Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What We've Learned From This Campaign:

In no particular order, here are a few things learned from this campaign season:

1. 50 point plans don't sell, but a hopeful message and a promise of leadership does. It's unreasonable to expect every politician to have bold plans about a million things, but not to expect them to seek out the experts who do and get them to create innovative, new policies for Massachusetts. Deval Patrick may not have 50 detailed plans, but he has "a few good plans." He's going to enact them and enact other good plans he finds along the way - just what any candidate for Governor should do.

2. Fear has no power in Massachusetts. Kerry Healey tried to scare the bajeezes out of Massachusetts and it blew up in her face. Amen.

3. Minorities can - and do - win. Always have hope and don't be afraid to run for office just because you're a minority. In this election, African American candidates have run strong campaigns across the country. Deval Patrick is going to win. Michael Steele and Harold Ford probably aren't. However, that has little to do with the color of their skin (especially in Steele's case, as he's a nasty Bush-loving Republican). Furthermore, there are gay and lesbian candidates who sprung up all around the country, from Cape Cod to Alabama, who will soon be helping to legislate laws across the country. The days where either African Americans or gay people can't win are over.

4. Progressive politics is alive and well. For years, progressives were the neutered base in the Democratic Party. We were the votes the Party could count on, yet there was no accountability. Yet, not only are we the base of the party, but we're also likely the plurality. We are stronger than the establishment. We've seen it in Deval Patrick. We've seen it in non-establishment guys like Jon Tester, Jim Webb and Claire McClaskill holding the line all across the country. We saw it in Ned Lamont's victory during the primary - even if he can't quite close the deal in the general. The Progressive and Netroot movements are burgeoning and growing faster than any other political movement in the country; in the years to come, the Democrat Party is going to look a lot more like us and the country will be better (and happier) for it.

5. Scot Lehigh is an idiot.

6. Newspapers suck, but that doesn't matter. Bad article after bad article didn't amount to a hill of beans. The Herald loved to gossip about Deval Patrick on the front page, seemingly on a weekly basis, reporting on such high entertainment as his sister's marriage problems. The Boston Globe let Frank Phillips run amok during the course of the entire primary season (primary season duck Deval hunting?). Few Globe articles stick to the nuts and the bolts of the story, reporting flowery innuendo before fact.

Yet, again, it doesn't amount to a hill of beans. If newspapers are wondering why their distributions are declining fast, they need look no further than the fact that they've ceased to be journalists and are now PR specialists, reporting press releases instead of serious stories. One day they'll figure it out, increase their reader base (be it online or in print) and create a lasting business model. That day isn't today.

Update: I'm well aware of the fact that there were more than one ads against Ford that were racist. However, those ads backfired for the most part - during the time they were aired, the race was essentially a dead heat. The reason Ford, in my mind, has fallen back in the polls has little to do with the color of his skin and more to do with the fact that he's a hypocritical, DINO SOB who could care less about the Democrats. People in Tennessee see this; consequently, he's not amassing the excitement for change necessary to win.

He's just like Joe Lieberman - the rare case of someone actually being as bad for the Democrats as a Republican majority. Quite frankly, I don't care whether or not he's elected - even at the cost of a possible Senate majority. He'd work against the Democrats so often that it wouldn't make up for the fact that we'd be able to have the committee chairs. He'd provide the same exact cover (and relish the position) as Joe Lieberman does for Republicans.

Agents for change in Tennessee must realize this. It has nothing to do with his voting record - I'm excited by guys like Webb, Tester and Scot Kleeb, who are all moderate to right of center - yet they don't actively work against the Democratic Party. It probably doesn't have a lot to do with his skin. He's just not offering the kind of clear picture and messages to resonate as someone wholly different than his Republican counterpart, so the people of Tennessee are going with their default pick.

Furthermore, I didn't say race or prejudice wasn't impacting the election. What I did say was "in this election, African American candidates have run strong campaigns across the country." Those campaigns have given a lot of candidates, including Ford, the chance to win. Sure, those candidates had to work against hundreds of years of history and mount an uphill battle. However, it wasn't an insurmountable uphill battle - as it would have been in years past. Even Ford could (and should) have won, but he lacked the message, ideas and differences to pull it off. And of course, I could be wrong and he *could* win. We'll find out late tonight.


Mark D. Snyder said...

Ive been to tennesee, its fucking racist down there! And the ads against Ford were racist. The color of his skin does play a big role in that race.

Ryan Adams said...

hence why I said especially steele... there definitely was racism imbued in the ads against Ford (I've written about it on this blog). However, I don't think it's why he's currently losing.

The reason why I think he's losing is because he's presented himself as a DINO in Lieberman proportions. If you stand for nothing different, voters aren't going to vote for change. That's why Ford's going to lose, not the racist ads.

Aaron said...

Yeah, but a Democrat in Tennesee can't realistically win if he's as liberal as someone like Patrick. That doesn't mean Ford doesn't stand for change.

Ryan Adams said...

Like I said, it has nothing to do with whether he's liberal or conservative. It has everything to do with whether he's going to backstab the democrats or be a strong, independent one.

No one is saying Jim Webb, Jon Tester or Scott Kleeb are liberal Democrats running in Conservative states - yet the entire netroots is supporting them (including me). The difference is Tester, Webb, et al are true blue Democrats - not providing cover for Republicans.

Aaron said...

Webb is a true-blue Democrat? He was a Republican who served in the Reagan administration, and he has publicly spoken out against John Kerry's anti-Vietnam activism in the early 70's.

I don't know nearly enough about Ford or the campaign he as run to make much of an argument. Do you have some reason to think that he would stab other democrats in the back?

Ryan Adams said...

Webb has embraced the Democratic Party - he's the exact kind of person we need in order to win back large swaths of Americans. People all around the country are learning the Republicans have been corrupted and influenced too heavily by the social agendas of the Evangelical movement. They're coming to our side - and embracing it.

John Kerry regrets some of the things he said in the 70s, why would Webb be thrilled with it? If Webb starts employing Liebermen-esque tactics of providing Republicans cover, I'll be happy to eat my words.

Anonymous said...

It's both imo. The racist ads did hurt him with some people, but maybe that could have been counteracted if he hadn't gone out of his way to be a worthless dino and alienate the base. Yes, there are gays in TN. Wealthy, politically active ones, too.

We also learned that Mass voters don't bother to take time to read the questions, so don't bother putting them on the ballot. Question 3 is down 58-42?

Ryan Adams said...

That's because "unions" are in it and people hate unions for some crazy reason (I think it's because they want union workers to suffer as much as everyone else, instead of trying to form new unions so everyone gets the same protection and rights).

The ads could have made an impact, but any racists who voted against Ford probably would have voted against him anyway. I doubt the ads had much of an impact on *racists*. The ads could have hurt Ford for other reasons, but I really, truly think the impact was small in terms of racism.

Anonymous said...

Nah, I don't think so. Idiot Republicans hate unions, but I don't think that's the case here. Rand Wilson got 20% of the vote against DeNucci on the basis of being a well respected union guy. I just think they don't know enough about the questions going in and don't want to take time to read and digest them, they're too long. I do agree though, about the suffer part. Way too many people whine on kos about how the union checkout person makes more than they do--so? If you take money from the checker, it's not going to go to you. You won't be any better off even if it makes you happy other people are suffering too.

I have to disagree about Ford. There are degrees of racism. Obviously, avowed racists wouldn't have considered voting for Ford anyway, although true low information voters may not be aware that he's African American, hence the point of the jungle drums radio ad. There are, however, many people who wouldn't admit to being racist, who get along with African American coworkers and like Michael Jordan or whatever, who would be uncomfortable at the thought of Ford dating their daughter or sister. That's who the ad is trying to reach. Who knows how large that population is, but every vote counts and obviously whoever made the ad thinks there's some sort of resonance there to tap into.

Ryan Adams said...

You're right. I just don't know how effective those ads were. What I do know is that liberals won in Ohio and Missouri, while moderates won in Virginia and Montona. Ford didn't lose Tennesee because he was a Democrat.

Maybe all my thoughts were wrong - and he really did lose because of racism. It's certainly possible. However, I think he lost because he didn't present enough reason - differences - to vote for him over the Republican. It's not a matter of liberal/conservative, it's more a matter of rhetoric and message. I wrote a blog detailing exactly what I'm talking about, but it's on Dkos and right now the archives are temporarily offline because of the increased traffic over there. When it's back, I'll link to it here.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd be interested to read it.

I think a big part of why he lost was that he tried to present himself as the traditional old school Southern good ole boy. Unfortunately, too many people who identify with that image or define themselves in that image weren't going to vote for him because of race. And he spent so much time and effort trying to define himself that way that it was off-putting to other voters who would otherwise be inclined to support him.

You could say that he wrapped himself in the Confederate flag and did a little too much to distance himself from anyone who has a serious problem with that.

We all know progressive Democrats will tend to rally to DINOs, especially in red states, but Ford pushed it too far and couldn't make up enough ground with the voters he was actually targeting.

Ryan Adams said...

Here are my thoughts on the subject. I think he failed to do what I suggest in that dairy because he was too often chopping his own feet off from under him by attacking his own political party - that's a no-no.

You can be a moderate or even right of center on most issues and run as a Democrat. However, you still need to stand for something. Most right-of-centers tend to be economic populists, which is a message that a lot of people can get behind (even, ironically, lots of wealthy people who think everyone should have their fair shake).

What Ford should have done was be more about what he was than what he wasn't; he should have made the race about how he could help lots of people instead of how he was against the gays and loved pretty much only the most religiously religious in religiontown. He didn't do that - and instead kept chipping away at himself by attacking the very party he was in.

Guys like Jon Tester got it right, for the most part, and they're also pretty conservative (although, Tester is more libertarian - which is something that appeals to even more people willing to vote for a D).

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