About That House Race In Georgia

I realize it is easy to say now, but I never thought Democrats would win Georgia’s 6th congressional district. Once the spotlight was glaring on that race, it was all over. Those folks were, after all, mostly Republicans. Hillary got close (1.5 points), but didn’t win in that district. And a very right-wing Republican named Tom Price, now a member of Tr-mp’s cabinet, won his last race there by a gazillion votes. The people who live in that district may not like Tr-mp all that much, but they like being Republicans. And that is the key to understanding why that race, why losing that race by four percentage points (as Jon Ossoff ultimately did), was actually good news for Democrats. Don’t let anyone, especially a Republican anyone, tell you differently.

Our family has a dog. He’s not a Pit Bull or a Rottweiler. He’s a miniature Dachshund. People don’t usually think of little wiener dogs as aggressive beasts, but they are. More so than Pit Bulls or Rottweilers or other breeds of dogs, according to some studies. And they don’t limit their aggression to strangers or other dogs. They also tend to bite their owners and family members. Our dog has done that. He almost bit the nose and lip off my youngest son. Why? Because one night our cute little wiener dog didn’t feel well. And my son didn’t know that. He got down in his face and tried to be nice to him. His reward was an hours-long trip to the emergency room and fairly extensive surgery. He still has the scars to prove that you don’t mess with sleeping sausages who aren’t feeling well.

E. B. White (the American writer who wrote the style guide, The Elements of Style, and the great children’s book, Charlotte’s Web) said the following about his Dachshund, Fred:

I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do.

As I see it, the mostly Republican electorate in Georgia wanted to vote against Tr-mp. But they didn’t like all the instruction they were getting. All the publicity, all the money that 20161106_105254 (2)came pouring in from outside the district, caused Republicans there to respond like a disobedient wiener dog. They resorted to form. They voted Republican. That’s what happened there. It wasn’t a Democratic failure. It wasn’t a bad candidate (although it would have helped if he had actually lived in the district). It wasn’t a bad message. It was simply the fact that Georgia 6 was chock-full of irritated Republican dachshunds who didn’t like being told what to do. It’s pretty much that simple.

But given all that, Democrats did quite well. We should look at what happened in Georgia as a good sign. The wiener dogs were disobedient, of course. But when we compete in districts that don’t have as many wieners, we can win. Cheers!

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15 Comments

  1. Great post. 2 points of interest: 1) I received about 12 emails a day (not an exaggeration) from Ossoff asking for money and then for more money. Holy cats! It was really annoying. I like the candidate and was sorry to see him lose, but c’mon. 2) Karen Handel is a truly disgusting candidate. She is the face of the GOP. The dishonesty and callousness of her campaign and her platform should inspire citizens all over the country to say: “Sweet Jesus, I don’t want someone like that to be my representative.” Her victory is yet another reason to not live in or visit Georgia.

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    • I don’t disagree with you about Handel. She reminds me of one of those country-club, holier-than-thou Republicans whose entitlement demeanor makes decent people want to puke.

      I get those fundraising emails all the time, too. They do get annoying. But they must generate some amount of donations or they wouldn’t send them so often. And, occasionally, I find myself being reminded that I have a responsibility to help out a little bit.

      Ossoff was not the perfect candidate, that’s for sure. But he overperformed. There is always second-guessing after a loss, but I never thought he would win and I don’t consider his loss a “loss.” I consider it a moral victory. The late outside money that went into that race mostly came from scared Republicans. They genuinely thought she might lose. And that ain’t nothing.

      Duane

       

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  2. I’m not so sure that this race means that Democrats can win in other, less contested venues. I wonder if there is any connection at all between being “sponsored” by the DNC and winning elections. I’m beginning to think that the answer is a big fat “NO”! Perhaps Barrack Obama won twice because he appealed to non-white voters, who, along with white liberals, comprise a majority in this country, and that had very little to do with the DNC. It seems to me that the DNC does a terrible job of vetting and picking new candidates, and in helping with the campaign after picking them. Candidates who are incumbents are a different story, because they have a proven track record. I predict, right here, right now, that Trump will be a 4 year President only because he is tired of being President. Democrats will not gain a majority in the 2018 elections, as much as I would like them to. The DNC/Democrats are not selecting the best candidates, they are not running effective elections, and they are not in touch with the largest constituency they have, just sitting there waiting for Democrats to express alignment with them. It doesn’t look good to me.

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    • Michael,

      You express the feelings of a lot of people. I think it’s way too early to be so pessimistic, especially given that Democrats have over-performed in these special House races by a substantial margin (much like 2005, just prior to Dems taking back the House). But I must ask you something. You said,

      The DNC/Democrats are not selecting the best candidates, they are not running effective elections, and they are not in touch with the largest constituency they have, just sitting there waiting for Democrats to express alignment with them.

      Please explain what you mean. What do you think the Dems could have done differently in Georgia and South Carolina (where they over-performed, too)? How are they out of touch with “the largest constituency they have” and just who do you think that constituency was in, say, Georgia’s 6th district or in Kansas or in Montana or in South Carolina, all overwhelmingly Republican districts?

      I would genuinely like to hear what you think.

      Duane

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      • Sorry for the delay, Duane. I have some things that crop up from time to time that I must take care of, even though I am retired.

        I am influenced primarily by a book that my wife and I read titled “Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution has Created a New American Majority” by Steve Phillips. In this book, Phillips makes the point that African Americans, Latinos, Asians,”other” non-white groups, and white liberals make up a majority of voters in the US. He makes a good statistical argument that this coalition is the coalition that elected President Obama. Twice. I think a relevant point can be made that a white candidate attempting to appeal to this coalition has a difficult task, a task that was made considerably easier for President Obama by his ethnicity and his personality.

        However, I see very little effort by the Democrats to even try to appeal to this majority. One example is Hillary’s running mate, Tim Kane. I’m sure that Mr. Kane is a very nice, quite capable person – I have nothing against him. I think that if Hillary had picked a running mate who appealed to the “new” majority, she might have been elected. (BTW, I think that Hillary’s candidacy was based excessively on the idea that it was “her turn”, and Democrats really have to lose that idea if they ever want to be a political force in this country again.)

        In the instance of the Congressional race in the 6th of Georgia, who did the Democrats pick? A young white guy, with no government experience, who didn’t even live in the district, but promised he would move there if elected. In my opinion, that’s a non-starter for appeal to the “new” majority. Predicting that he would lose, no matter how much money the Democrats poured into the campaign, was a no-brainer. I wonder if the white liberal, African American, and Latino vote could have elected Ossoff, if he had appealed to that constituency. A good start would have been selecting a member of the new majority to run, I think.

        Here I must inject that I think appealing to the new majority does not mean just acknowledging how bad they have had it. Instead, it is painting a picture depicting how great things can be if the new majority can act together. I think the prospect of this new majority scares the shit out of the still-intact, still-powerful white “ruling class”. They will do whatever they must to ensure that the new majority never acquires power. That includes suppressing the vote, scare tactics for the white “ruling class”, passing laws that decimate the new majority ranks (health care, taxes, the “war” on drugs, unequal incarceration of new majority members, immigration laws to limit influx of new majority peoples, the list goes on and on.) The Republican party, to me, seems to be enacting legislation aimed precisely at the new majority, to keep it from growing, and to limit its power. They won’t stop until they feel safe, which right now is never, the way things are going.

        Bernie appeals to the new majority because of the social democracy aspect of his philosophy, promising better times for everyone, including the new majority. He has found a key to enlisting them, but other more direct keys may exist if a smart, understanding, new majority member with the right set of skills pops up to help. For instance, I think President Obama is one such person.

        I see the Democratic party as a poorer cousin of the Republican party. When they make decisions about candidates, they still choose members of the white “ruling class”, with a few exceptions. They still think that a ton of money makes the difference in winning or not winning. They lose to Republicans who are demonstrably not the sort of people any sane person would want to have power (body-slammer Gianforte, “I don’t believe in a living wage!” Handel, etc.) because Republicans are better at manipulating voters. You can win without manipulating voters. You can win by having an inspiring vision, a vision that includes everybody, even the scared white “ruling class”. In fact, I wonder if you can ever win until you win over that segment. Something has to change in the Democratic party.

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        • Michael,

          Thanks for the thoughtful response. (I know what you mean about being retired and still have time-consuming chores.)

          I’m glad you brought up Steve Phillips and his book. It gives me a chance to vent on this issue. I share his view that there is too much talk about reconnecting with white “swing” voters. You hear so much of that talk from pundits on television that you’d think Democrats were openly telling those voters to bug off. But Democrats actually have some policy proposals that would help the very voters who shunned them in favor of Tr-mp. In fact, there is mounting evidence that these voters aren’t swinging at all. They are, in fact, Republicans.

          Time will tell if some of those former Democratic voters will come back, but we can’t risk alienating the “New American Majority” by crassly appealing to the “white” working class. Our message, as Democrats, is that we are on the side of all working class folks, no matter the color, sex, sexual preference, etc. If that inclusive message (what sometimes gets labeled as “identity politics”) turns away, or keeps away, white working class people, so be it. We know that Republicans will do absolutely nothing to help them and we just need to keep reminding them of that absolute fact.

          I would disagree with you that Democrats aren’t trying to appeal to the Obama coalition. Contrary to that, they have received a lot of criticism for trying to appeal to that coalition too much. Despite what you said about the choice of Tim Kaine, many people chided Clinton and her campaign for ignoring and abandoning the “white working class” in favor of minority groups and women who care about their reproductive rights. I heard that kind of post-election criticism constantly.

          I would also disagree with your criticism that Hillary’s campaign “was based excessively on the idea that it was ‘her turn.'” I followed her quite closely. I read a lot about what she was doing. And there was not even a hint of entitlement in her commercials, her speeches, her interviews. She learned that lesson from 2007-2008, I think. This time she was focused at the beginning on policy issues, particularly as she battled Sanders. Then she turned to Tr-mp and his bigotry. I just don’t think it is fair to criticize her for a “her turn” entitlement strategy.

          Now we turn to that Georgia 6 race. I don’t disagree with you that Ossoff wasn’t the best candidate. Democrats have to do better in places like that. But that’s not why we lost that race. No Democrat would have won that race after it became the focal point of tribalist politics. As the South Carolina race proved on the same day, when it was just a normal, low-turnout race, Democrats overperformed even more than they did in Georgia 6. And we must not forget that even with Ossoff’s weaknesses, Democrats still overperformed by a long way. There are around 70 House districts that are less conservative than Georgia 6. And polls show that Democrats are widely favored over Republicans for Congress right now. That is all good news, and Democrats shouldn’t panic and try to reinvent themselves in order to have a broader appeal. We already have a broad appeal right now, even though there are things we can do better.

          Now, on to what you said about the fear associated with that New Majority. I have been writing about this for, oh, eight years now. I have called it “white angst,” “cultural angst,” and some other things. You are exactly right about the fact that frightened white folks (many of them frightened conservative Christians) “will do whatever they must to ensure that the new majority never acquires power.” The Tea Party backlash against Obama, the Electoral College “election” of Tr-mp, are the last gasps of white privilege in this country. We may have another decade or so to finally seal the deal, but politics will eventually change in response to the reality of an increasingly diverse electorate.

          You said something very insightful. You said, “Republicans are better at manipulating voters.” You are absolutely right about that. They are. That’s partly because Republicans benefit from the efforts of talk radio and Fox “News” and other forms of conservative media, none of which gives a damn about facts and “truth.” They can use the conservative media complex as a way to manipulate voters. Democrats don’t really have any such instrument of misinformation and manipulation. But it is also true that Democrats, as Hillary Clinton tried to do last time, tend to talk to people using real facts, as opposed to wacky ideas masquerading as facts. And real facts are often hard to explain, in terms of policy prescriptions and the limitations of a divided government.

          Finally, you talk about how the Democratic Party has to change, something I have already addressed. You also said,

          You can win by having an inspiring vision, a vision that includes everybody, even the scared white “ruling class.”

          Maybe. Maybe that’s possible. But you can’t woo that white working class by selling them a vision that doesn’t include folks of color, folks with different ethnic and religious backgrounds, the LGTB community, and women who value their freedom to choose their reproductive destiny. And I’m afraid that there is just too much tribalism at play now. I’m afraid the white “ruling class” has dug in, just like Southern whites did in 1861, as they did in the war’s aftermath, as they did with Jim Crow, as they have done all the way up to Tr-mp, whose “hero” was, uh, Andrew Jackson. I don’t think we are going to be able to add significant numbers of those folks to our coalition.

          Again, thanks for the thoughtful reply and the food for thought.

          Duane

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          • Duane, thanks for your thoughtful consideration of my comments. When I analyze what the Democrats are sending me and what I read in the left-leaning news on the internet, it leaves me uninspired.

            It seems to be a repetition of the same old tropes, with no new ideas (I have to admit that I don’t have any new ideas, either, but that’s not my job; also the ideas aren’t bad ideas – medical care for all, universal voting rights, health care for women, equal pay, living wages for everyone, halting the widening gap between the rich and poor, etc.).

            As matter of fact, the whole of the “news” these days has fallen into a pattern: Trump says, tweets, or does something (usually outrageous), and the left responds with, well, outrage, then Trump’s defenders come up with something to defend him, which usually doesn’t last one news cycle before it starts again. I’m growing numb, and I’ll bet everyone else is, too. That may be part of Trump’s strategy (or the strategy used by Trump’s handlers). If so, it’s working on me, at least.

            My instinct say that Democrats must do something different, something to disrupt this cycle. We’ve entered a domain of sameness that is deadly to real thinking and new ideas. Maybe that is by design, maybe not. Maybe it’s just my innate desire for something new and different. I don’t have any good answers.

            I’m worried.

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            • I’m worried, too, Michael, but I really appreciate the spot-on manner in which you have managed to articulate my angst. I guess misery loves company.
              I used to believe that the good guys would eventually win. You know — honor, truth, compassion, logic, reason would combine to make everything okay. Seems those days are gone — along with those ideals. My conservative friends have cashed out in favor of a sort of fiendish grab for absolute power to just bludgeon everyone they don’t agree with with or want to blame for their own stupidity.
              Of course, we know they’re getting conned and won’t be happy with the final results, but by then it will be too late for them and the rest of us.
              It CAN happen here — it’s happening now.

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  3. You’re on the money, Michael. The DNC needs a new look, a new name and some new names. Their “phoney survey” fundraising emails are tired and “leading”. Their “startling” headlines attempting woo voters are predictable and insulting. They nearly missed a true shake-up this Spring — and I like Tom Perez okay, but he looks like business as usual to me. They don’t know how to inspire, qualify or win.

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    • I sort of remember the same kind of criticism before the 2006 resurgence.

      I don’t disagree that we need new blood (all organizations do), but I don’t think we should be so quick to toss away the institutional wisdom that goes with, say, a Nancy Pelosi. I realize a lot of people don’t like her, but she knows how to get shit done. (By the way, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and others today seemed to be on a mission to get rid of her, after she supposedly had something to do with the Ossoff loss—something no one could possibly know at this point.)

      I disagree with you about the Democrats’ ability to “inspire, qualify, or win.” We have a fairly depleted bench right now, due to the lack of attention to local and state races all over the country the past several years. But the general message of Democrats—that the rich shouldn’t have all the money and all the influence—inspires the hell out of me.

      Duane

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  4. Anonymous

     /  June 21, 2017

    I inherited my mother’s 9 year old dachshund when she passed three years ago. This wiener was family, and it was necessary he remain in the family. After a 9 hour car ride from Lubbock, Texas, we had bonded. He is always at my heels, and if I leave the house, my wife tells me he howls until she lets him out, and he awaits on the front porch, running into the yard every time a white pickup passes, thinking I have returned.

    One morning, I heard him barking aggressively outside, and went out to see what had him excited. As I stepped out on the back porch, he was barking at a full-grown German Shepard that was eyeing my chickens in their run. As I looked back to the little guy, he charged the Shepard, that ran to a corner of the yard and was trapped by the fence. The little guy bit the Shepard’s leg, which yelped, jumped over him, and took off running out of the yard with the wiener in hot pursuit.

    Sometimes little wieners do things that are not in their best interests, and could ultimately end up harming themselves as well, but it is the nature of the beast. Like my lifetime member of the NRA brother, you can question their judgement and admonish their habits, but in the end, they are family. If Democrats could capture that blind loyalty exhibited by dogs and Republicans, we’d never lose another election.

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    • Nice story!

      Our wiener is a tough dog on this side of the fence. If he confronts an aggressive-looking dog on a walk, he plays the snob. He wants nothing to do with it.

      I agree with you about loyalty, but I don’t want it to be “blind.” And that points to a problem with Democrats. Our loyalty mostly isn’t blind. We can see. And that is what causes us such problems among ourselves. But I prefer that situation to the quasi-religious devotion that so many Republicans show toward their disgusting (these days) party. We’re more like a messy, argumentative family than a lockstep church group. We just need to learn when to stop arguing and start voting for the most progressive candidate on the ballot.

      Duane

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      • Anonymous

         /  June 22, 2017

        This is not our first dachshund, my daughter’s lived to be 19 years old. The last six years of her life, she had a hole in her ear the size of a possum’s mouth, where she was bitten protecting our yard. Her last year was spent in blindness, with little bowel control, so the vet came to our home with several of our daughter’s friends to put her down. I questioned why he had brought two syringes, because she was so small, but it ended requiring both to complete the job. So don’t sell your little guy short, if he encounters intruders on your property. These guys might outlive us both. As you know, I questioned the DNC’s logic in nominating Hillary, perhaps if people like myself had been more loyal to party in discussions with others, Trump might not be in office.

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        • I think our guy, his name is Fosters, is 11 years old. He’s had a very expensive back surgery (about 6 or 7 years ago now) and has had chronic allergy problems and some stomach issues over the years. But he seems to be in pretty good shape over all. We keep him at the right weight. But I don’t think I can count on him for protection.

          As for the last point you made, I’m not sure how much that primary battle hurt Hillary, but I’m convinced it hurt her enough to make a difference in the outcome of the election. The weird thing is that most of the battle was rather civil. There wasn’t that much to fight over, in terms of policy differences. But Bernie, and some of his most fervent followers (some still quite active today on social media and doing the same thing to the party that they did to Hillary), went after Hillary’s only real vulnerability—the perception she was greedy and dishonest—a vulnerability that all of us knew the Republicans, and Tr-mp, would exploit later on. I would rather he attacked her for not demanding single-payer or for any other policy difference than what he did. I could feel it in my bones that he was doing real, lasting damage. And I believed, and still believe, that he should have known better. I also believe that he didn’t know better because he was not a real Democrat with any real loyalty to the party, not to mention blind loyalty.

          I just hope all of us learn from that experience, me included. There is too much at stake to turn on each other. But I will say this. I can’t stand by in silence and watch some in the party (and many outside of it) demand that we toss out Nancy Pelosi, et al., people who have been real heroes in the cause. We need new blood, no one should argue against that. But we need institutional experience, too. The Democratic Party is big enough for the young and the old, the inexperienced and the seasoned. I don’t like what I see, in terms of some restless ideologues who want to hijack the party or else. It’s a fragile thing and the only hope we have of returning to political sanity.

          I still don’t think a majority of the country is ready for radical change in the Bernie sense. But if Bernie, or Warren, or someone wins the nomination on a platform of radical change (like single-payer), I’ll do all I can to help win. But it will be a hard sell. Thankfully, the way the GOP is screwing up the healthcare system, it may get easier by 2020.

          Duane

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      • Duane, you said,

        Our loyalty mostly isn’t blind. We can see. And that is what causes us such problems among ourselves. But I prefer that situation to the quasi-religious devotion that so many Republicans show toward their disgusting (these days) party.

        I think this is accurate insight. Conservatives have bought in to the conflation of party loyalty with patriotism, religion, gun rights, and the notion that if you’re poor, it must be your fault. Also, that healthcare costs what it does because of technology, not that it’s making people rich. They got religious fervor, we got boring data (are you listening, Hillary?) The Democratic party needs a good dose of charisma.

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