Sunday, January 28, 2018

Rural Democrats have permission to be different.

No pain, no gain.

Democrats taking on Walden need not be "Pelosi Democrats."   Time to distinguish yourselves.  

Greg Walden's seat is considered so safe  he can spend his time campaigning for other Republicans.   It is a rural, mountain west district. It is the kind of district that now votes Republican.  

The right Democrat can win.  The right Democrat is not a "Pelosi Democrat."

Nationally, Democrats are the urban party.  The diversity party.  The party of educated office workers.  The party that likes regulations because they allow people who are close proximity to each other to cooperate. The party that sees guns as a problem, not a tool.  The party that uses things that are logged and drilled and fracked and grown in the countryside. 

All six of the Democratic candidates fit comfortably into the mold of the national party.  They can live in the District and wear blue jeans and can live on a gravel road, but their policies would be equally electable in Portland or Seattle or any other blue-state city.  I say this not as criticism, but as objective observation.   

They are all good Democrats:
   They support DACA citizenship and liberalizing immigration.
   They support LGBT rights.
   They are concerned about climate change.
   They oppose a proposed natural gas pipeline to Coos Bay.
   They support expanding health care to everyone.
   They supported measure 101 to fund expanded Medicaid.
   They want taxes to be more progressive.
   They want to dis-empower special interest money in campaigns.
   They want solar and wind power, not fossil fuels.
   They want women empowered in the workplace.
   They want women to control their own reproduction choices.
   They want regulation of guns for improved gun safety.
   They want to protect public lands from commercial degradation.

Sage and Merkley.  Jeans aren't enough.
The national Democratic Party is not going to give significant assistance to the Democratic nominee because they do not consider this a winnable district.  

This is liberating.  

Democrats, you have been cut loose.  You do not need to be electable in Berkeley or Cambridge or San Francisco.  You can be a rural Oregon Democrat.  You can tell Nancy Peloisi to stay the heck out of your District.  

Style is not enough.  A home and career in the District, blue jeans, a jeep, a mountain home, hand shaking, and a back story on a farm all help, but it takes more to be credible.  

The Democrat needs to do something courageous, out of the box, and unpredictable to show that his or her loyalties are to the District, not the national party of urban sophisticates.  The Democrat needs to demonstrate credibly that he or she is different by expressing a firm policy point of view that will disappoint and offend the national party consensus and cost votes in the primary

No pain, no gain.  

What would that be?  Something that clearly demonstrates that the candidate thinks like and represents rural Oregon, not urban blue-state coastal cities.  The strategy does not work unless it is painful and controversial.  Saying one hates health insurers is good, but it is not painful nor unique to rural Oregon because everyone hates health insurance companies.  Saying one hates fracking is good, but not painful, since there are negligible fossil fuels in rural Oregon.  

Jim Crary's criticism of big money in politics is good--if he can generate real controversy--but Democrats agree with him.  No pain.

The Democrat needs to communicate that he or she hears the complaints and concerns that caused rural Americans to vote overwhelmingly for Trump.  They need to send a convincing signal that you see things their way.  That means a break with the Democratic consensus.   You have to show it.

Click Here: there is a case for higher harvests.
A Democrat who said he or she wants to expand timber harvests on public lands would catch attention.  Democrats have generally settled into being the conservation-environmentalist party.  There are O&C counties in the District and counties with Forest Service land.  A Democrat can say that environmental protections have swung too far and that forests are a renewable resource and that under-managed forests are a waste and a forest fire hazard.  Let the conservationist Democrats howl in protest. (You need them to howl in protest.)  Rural Oregonians resent people in Portland and San Francisco and DC telling them what to do with land in their back yard.  Sierra Club Democrats have five other candidates to split their votes among, and there is a case to be made that "wise use" is sound policy and that means cutting more trees.

A Democrats who says that talk of gun regulation backfires and that he or she is a 2nd Amendment Democrat would certainly create howls of protest.  There is a case to be made that gun control talk is as counterproductive as banning alcohol or marijuana.  One does not need to minimize school shootings.  One does need to acknowledge that talk of banning guns causes more people to buy guns.  

Short Clip: Clinton says a secure border helps America
A Democrat who says that immigration needs to be better controlled and that a better wall on the southern border is perfectly reasonable would shock many Democrats.  They would say he or she "sounds like Trump."  The Democrat could then argue he or she actually sounds like Bill Clinton and that immigration needs rules and controls, not blanket amnesty, to protect rural jobs.  Immigration free for all endangers future immigration because it creates backlash.  There is a progressive case to be made for immigration controls.  Welcome the howls of protest.  The Democrat could say his or her loyalty is to American rural farm workers, not immigrant farm workers.  

The Democrat needs to send a strong signal, one of unmistakable consequence.   The Democrat from the 2nd District should be a different kind of Democrat from one representing the national party.

That is the big distinction with Greg Walden.  Walden, in his leadership role, is now loyal to the GOP national party.  Currently all the Democrats sound like the national Democratic party consensus.  

Time for the Democrat to break openly and painfully from the Democratic consensus  (When you win election, don't worry.  Nancy Pelosi will welcome you with open arms.  You will be a star.)  Say you are a different kind of Democrat because Burns is not Portland and Medford is not Berkeley.

Time is running out to demonstrate that you are a Democrat who represents a rural, forested, ranching District and are proud of it.   You will demonstrate it by angering someone in your own base. 

Be the outlier.


Rick Millward said...

All the candidates at the forum talked about "finding things in common", "shared values" "focus on on solving problems together", etc.

Mr. Crary spoke about the definition of insanity. If anything has been demonstrated with certainty by recent events it is that a significant percentage of the electorate does not share American values. All the issues are debatable by reasonable people with expertise in the related fields. If there is merit to more logging on public lands, great, but the value should go back to the public. The problem with Regressives is that they either want to funnel the money into private hands or simply sell off the land. Either way the public loses. Same with grazing "rights", privatizing any number of governmental services, and all the rest. These actions should be suspect. State and Federal governments, with the people's approval, have set aside land and resources in the interests of the common good which includes using the revenue to finance said government. The wisdom of this was recognized 100 years ago and is now under threat. Vincente Fox recently said (I paraphrase) "These %^&$$ people are trying to tell us we've been doing it wrong for 100 years", and he's correct, we are right be outraged.

I think most Progressives have accepted that Regressives are not persuadable, and have to be voted back into the margins and under the rocks where they belong. Otherwise this country will be driven back to the 19th century. Candidates need to accept this and stop with the gauzy rhetoric. It's naive.

Rich Fairbanks said...

If you could make fire management an out-of-the-box issue, you could win in district 2. Residents of district 2 marinate in smoke every summer. We cant get enough crews in a bad fire year because 'smaller government.' We cant break the stalemate over cutting trees because the repubs know it makes a great issue for them. Fire is an excellent issue for the democrats because the bad effects of fire can be mitigated by community action and by government action. Just the sort of thing we preach, collective action and teamwork, science-based solutions.