Point of View Columns

Thelma and Louise All Over Again

Last week already seems like such a long time ago. But it was only last week that it seemed that a zephyr of common sense and common purpose had visited the Democratic Candidate Carnival. And that was when the sainted Beto O’Rourke demonstrated some real common sense, and hopefully some sense of purpose, by withdrawing as a candidate. And it was certainly the hope of many that another 10-12 of the remaining twenty candidates might take the hint and gracefully withdraw and pursue their dreams of sitting behind the Resolution desk in the Oval Office some other day.

But those hopes were dashed upon the jagged rocks of disappointment and despair when later in that same long ago last week, former New York City Mayor and billionaire and Stop and Frisk Super Fan announced that he was seriously entertaining a plan to run for president as……..a Democrat, of course.

And in the following few days we began to hear that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick are now, less than 100 days before the Iowa primary, making a decision as to whether to make the Democratic Candidate Carnival a metastasizing monster that will swallow the hopes and dreams of the many who believe that the re-election of Donald Trump will create a real opportunity for autocracy to replace democracy in America.

According to Forbes Magazine there are only six or seven people in the world wealthier than Michael Bloomberg. And so it isn’t possible that someone is paying him to enter the most bizarre presidential candidate selection process since the Teapublican Clown Car in 2012.

While you will not find the names of Eric Holder and Deval Patrick on any Forbes list of the wealthiest individuals, they are both known to be honorable men with stellar reputations for public service and probity. But eliminating nefarious motives does not provide the hint of a clue as to the reasoning that does motivate these men.

What has to be clear to all who would see, is that this Democratic internecine battle on steroids is a recipe for the disaster that would be a second Trump term. What has to be clear to all who would see is that fractionating the Democratic constituency into twenty pieces and then hoping to glue them all together in Milwaukee next July is a fool’s errand.

What we know is that somewhere the right wing of the right wing billionaire backers of Trump – Adelson, the Mercer family, the Koch family, ET. Al. – are chortling and rubbing their hands with glee as they watch the Democrats hurtle down this road to perdition and inevitable defeat. And all of this is happening without them having to spend any of their own virtually infinite coffers of cash.

There is something to be said for the advocacy of principle over comfort and convenience. And there is also something to be said for employing real world vision in a real world where the advocacy of principle over comfort and convenience can lead to catastrophic results for millions of men, women and children for whom the political process is their last best hope for some gossamer glimmer of hope for a better future.

It should be all who care to watch this self-inflicted carnage in the Democratic Party that, as the actual primary voting and caucuses begin all of the candidates will be using live campaign rhetorical ammunition as all of the candidates seek to be the last one standing. But in such a scenario, the last one standing in Milwaukee next year will be bruised and bloodied and battered, surrounded by disgruntled and grumpy supporters of their opponents. These supporters will say the right things in front of the cameras and then sulk their way back home to half-heartedly support the so-called “winner”.

And meanwhile, Trump and his supporters will be sitting fat and happy, waiting to take on whomever this wounded warrior might be…..and it won’t be a fair fight.

Maybe Tom Perez can send a short video clip to all of the Democratic candidates – the clip can contain the last scene from the movie “Thelma and Louise” as they drive their car off the cliff in one last glorious gesture of defiance and independence. Which, of course, is just before they crash, burn and die.

Maybe, just maybe, some of the participants in the Democratic Candidate Carnival will get the hint —–before it gets too late……and it is getting late early.

Be My Guest

Sobering and Encouraging News From the 2010 Midterm Elections – Guest Column by Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.

The November 2010 elections had a lot of interesting results. First, it is clear that the Tea Party movement must be taken seriously,
Because it galvanized support around the country and removed Democrats and Republicans from incumbency positions.

More importantly, it was clear that much of the country was sour on the economic woes, searching for more jobs, and hoping to find ways to get our dollar moving in right direction. Despite the incredible efforts by President Obama in achieving significant economic success with the approval of the $800 billion stimulus and the new health-care bill, many saw the effort as reckless spending by Democrats rather than
meeting the critical needs to save jobs and improve the health of our nation’s people.
President Obama heard the criticism loud and clear and has not only agreed to work with Republicans, but has also called for meetings in November with the top Republican leadership.

This is a positive and encouraging sign. Despite the overall success of Republicans by reclaiming leadership in the House, Democrats still have a narrow lead in the Senate and will still be able to insist that parties come together to meet the enormous challenges that our economy faces.

There may well be some sunshine behind these dark clouds. The states of MA, CA, and NY remain largely Democratic. Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown won important positions against strenuous and expensive opponents to become California’s Democratic Senator and Governor, respectively.

At the same time, Andrew Cuomo was elected as the new Governor of New York, and both Senators Schumer and Gillibrand were re-elected to terms in the Senate.

Furthermore, MA had a clean sweep. After the shocking Scott Brown victory just months ago, Governor Deval Patrick, the first African American governor of the state, was reelected by a considerable margin, and all eight of the Ddemocratic House members were re-elected, several of whom faced their first serious challenges in many years.

Massachusetts is different, of course, but the Scott Brown victory, carried as it was by strong Tea Party support, was supposed to be a road map of sorts for Republicans to make serious inroads. Instead, the results, including the staggering defeat of initiatives to roll back affordable housing and the state sales tax suggest that voters understand the complexities of issues beyond sound bites.

Indeed, although Republican Charlie Baker sought to paint Deval Patrick as a colossal failure, voters repeatedly praised the governor for his steady hand in difficult times and thought that he deserved another term in office.

As was true for Deval Patrick this year in Massachusetts, 2012 will be a defining year for both President Obama and his future leadership, as well as for the Democratic Party’s ability to regain control over two branches of government.

If there is any chance of securing the presidency in 2012 and maintaining the Senate as well as possibly reconfiguring the House, it will require action on at least two levels.

In terms of policy, Democrats will have to articulate a compelling economic platform, supported by significant job growth in addition to demonstrating more genuine determination to address the obvious frustration and anger that is so prevalent in this country.

In terms of voter outreach, President Obama and his fellow Democrats will have to tap into the enthusiasm he was able to create with voters in 2008 generally and especially with
black and young voters.

Again, contrary to popular caricatures, Massachusetts can stand as a bellwether. Going into the election the prevailing opinion was that here, as across the nation, Republicans would be swept into office on the tide of an enthusiasm gap. The expectation was that their emotional support for their candidates would motivate their voters to the polls in overwhelming numbers.

I am not a polling expert, but while that may have been the case elsewhere in the country, here in Massachusetts we did in fact have near record turnout and the results suggest that the enthusiasm gap may not be as large as projected.

Charles J. Ogletree is Jesse Climenko Professor at Harvard Law School, the founder of the school’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, and the author of numerous books on legal topics.