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A Movement - and a Party - In Search of Leadership

by: Robert Cruickshank

Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 09:08:34 AM PDT

In Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli's story on the California Democratic Party Convention they emphasize that the key question facing delegates is how to counter the "passion" of the Tea Party movement:

The question that Democrats will answer over the next few months: Did the 72-year-old Brown and 69-year-old Boxer infuse the faithful with a Tea Party-like energy?

"Democrats weren't going to dress up in silly costumes like Tea Party members," said Auros Harman, a 32-year-old delegate from Mountain View. "But Democrats in Silicon Valley will be doing the groundwork. People will show up."

With respect to Marinucci and Garofoli - two of the best writers left in the shrinking field of California political analysts - they have misinterpreted what Auros Harman said, and what most delegates are feeling at this convention.

Democrats are committed to working to elect their candidates and beat the Republicans. We're in it for the long haul. But we are looking not just for new inspiration, but new leadership.

This is not a passionate convention. David Dayen called the mood somnabulant. A significant portion of the Northern California delegates did not make the trip down here, and of those who did, we've often discussed how this convention lacks the energy and life of recent gatherings.

That should not - and must not - be read as a lack of enthusiasm or a worrisome sign that Democrats are going to be bested this fall by a resurgent right.

Instead, what is happening at this convention is as I predicted: the California progressive movement is entering a very new phase. We have already demonstrated we have passion, and that passion is already being reconstructed as a deep reservoir of energy for future campaign fights. What we are now seeking is a plan for the next 10 years. The leadership and the agenda that will seize the opportunity we have in this state to beat back the corporate assault on what remains of the California Dream, and to revive and restore that dream for everyone living in the Golden State.

In previous conventions, starting from the transformative moment in 2003 when Howard Dean kicked off the progressive battle for the future of the party, California Democratic Party conventions have generally revolved around a single theme: the battle between progressives and moderates for control of the party.

But no longer. At this convention there will be no Art Torres to call a quorum to prevent an "out of Iraq" resolution as in 2007; our current party chair John Burton spoke from the E-Board dais in San Diego last November calling for withdrawal from Afghanistan. Nor are there battles over preventing anti-progressive stances from being taken on ballot initiatives as in 2009 - the party's June 2010 endorsements are the progressive endorsements.

Even what seems like the classic moderate vs. progressive battle, Jane Harman versus Marcy Winograd, isn't much of a battle. Each time Harman wins the local delegates, the more progressive statewide delegate body says "no" and pulls the endorsement from the consent calendar. It doesn't matter whether Winograd can actually get the party's nomination; Harman will be denied it, and here again, progressives prevail.

The war is over. Progressives won. Now what?

Read on to find out...

Robert Cruickshank :: A Movement - and a Party - In Search of Leadership
This convention is characterized by a search for new leadership. The delegates are going to work hard for the top of the ticket, but do not see that ticket as showing leadership. Everyone likes Barbara Boxer, but she isn't a visionary leader. Gavin Newsom and Janice Hahn have essentially the same left-of-center politics, so that contest became one of personalities (a contest neither won). Dave Jones and Hector De La Torre also share the same politics, and Jones won the party endorsement only by having worked the delegates more effectively, for a longer period of time.

Folks don't really know what to make of Jerry Brown either. It's not that there's concern he isn't progressive (though such concerns do exist), it's that he doesn't fit the old paradigms. He's not a moderate looking to screw over progressives, and he's not an insurgent progressive. He's an almost legendary figure, but who adamantly refuses to provide the clear-sighted leadership progressives seek. He might be a good populist, he might be moderate-friendly on certain issues, and nobody knows whether his "hoard resources until the fall barrage" strategy will succeed.

In short, the 2010 ticket is going to offer defense against the right, but isn't offering what most California Democrats really want: leadership.

As California enters its third year of the worst, most profound political and economic crisis in the 240 years since Europeans arrived, there remains a lack of hope and optimism that the crisis will be resolved favorably. Efforts to explore solutions to that crisis in 2009 revealed just how deep the problems are and how hard it is to produce the fixes.

Progressives are positioned to provide both the leadership and the agenda to get California out of the crisis. But so far, we haven't been willing to step into that spotlight. 2008 and 2009 were consumed with the battle to elect Obama and then implement his agenda. The passage of the health care bill marks the end of that first phase.

Importantly, that bill was hailed by most California progressives not because it achieved a great progressive policy victory (it did no such thing) but instead because it confirmed that the concept of using government to guarantee provision of human services is a popular, politically possible goal.

California is at a tipping point. The old ways of the last 30 years - extracting wealth from the middle and working classes to fuel the wealthy, destroying our public institutions and services to achieve the same, justified as a necessity to protect the late 20th century suburban model of the California Dream - those old ways are over. Done. Dead.

But what replaces it? Progressives instinctively know the answer - an urban, sustainable model that is backed by a strong public sector that serves the basic needs of its people. But we do not yet know to get there, and do not have any leadership, whether top-down or bottom-up, that is producing the answer.

So far, at this convention, that animating vision and agenda is lacking. Not out of a lack of faith that we can implement it, but because we're at a transition point. Progressives no longer have any villains within the Democratic Party, and in any case using villains as a way to motivate action has run its course.

We've reached the end of one phase of growth and activity in the California Democratic Party and the progressive movement. We're about to enter another, one where we have the opportunity to start talking about and implementing our vision, now that many of the obstacles to it have been pushed aside. That vision isn't on display at this convention. But it is percolating, coalescing, and requires progressives to learn how to deal with a new environment, where we're no longer fighting against a venal, corrupt Republican president and the Democrats that enable them.

Instead we are in a place where Democrats govern the nation, and though many of us are ambivalent about that governance, it means we have to consider new frames and new ways to achieve our goals. We need not just individual leaders, but a leadership agenda, one no longer focused on tearing down our perceived enemies but on building up new institutions, new ideas, and ultimately, new campaign victories.

More on that last piece later today - because there are indeed candidates here offering something new and exciting, and they deserve our attention and support.

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Harman retains endorsement of CDP (5.00 / 1)
So as you can see, I had to strike out the section on Harman, who did indeed retain her endorsement in the CA-36 primary on the floor just now. Does that change my conclusion that progressives have "won"?

I don't believe it does. There remains a lot of work to do within the party. But the fact that Winograd succeeded in twice pulling the endorsement, and nearly succeeded in denying the endorsement, is still to me a sign that progressives have a lot of power within this party. Had more NorCal delegates come down, Harman may well have been denied the endorsement.

However, and this is the key point, this didn't feel like an case of insurgents fighting a hostile party structure. This was a contest between two evenly matched groups within the party, where a Winograd victory very nearly could have been accomplished. Harman won not because of a desire to slap down progressives, but primarily because her talking point that we shouldn't overturn local district caucus endorsements carried weight. For a lot of delegates, there was also a desire to please the political establishment, and for still others, Winograd simply did not make her case that Harman's endorsement had to be pulled.

Progressives still have work to do to define the agenda and lead it forward. Harman is a classic case of the need to hold Democrats accountable - she played an instrumental role in re-electing George W. Bush by helping spike the warrantless wiretapping story.

Primarying bad Democrats is an essential part of building lasting progressive power. The call for vision and leadership I made in this diary involves continuing to battle against these kinds of moderates who are not on board with entering a new era.

My argument here isn't that progressives have the party to ourselves. We don't. But the era of the last 5 or 6 years, of struggle to be taken seriously and break a hostile party leadership. We've won that war. The party's future is our future. Now we must change from insurgent struggle to building a broad movement, with ideas and values and a vision that can not only win over wide majorities of the CDP delegates, but win over the state's voters.

There's still plenty of work to be done within the CDP. The fact that Harman could still get so many votes makes that clear. But that needs to get folded in to our offering a clear vision of California's future.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

status quo=alright with the cdp (4.00 / 1)
With all due respect, it's your job to say progressives have won, no matter what happens.  You could strike out your whole essay and you'd still come out with the same conclusion: "progressives have won."  But when Brown was picked, did progressives win?  No.  

How can you say Brown is not a moderate?  He's the classic example of triangulating politician who has gone to the center for his political career.  Prop 13?  Prison unions?

Jane Harman winning the endorsement of the CDP is exactly the kind of deflating but educational moment this convention was made for.  It's a signal from the elderly, moneyed we-have-ours-you-guys-can-move faction of the Dems that the status quo in California is just fine.

[ Parent ]
Let me be clear about this (5.00 / 2)
Progressives "won" because we've broken out of the ghettoes that the previous party leadership wanted to put us in. We have work to do, yes, but the barriers aren't there any longer. The question is how we move forward - to both solidify our hold on this party and to articulate a vision for our state's future.

Brown can't be easily identified as a "moderate" - his politics are more complex. However, I would definitely NOT class him as a progressive. I still wish he had faced a primary challenge, which could have provided this convention the kind of energy and sense of direction and choice that we need.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
status quo (0.00 / 0)
We have to face the demographic challenges inherent in the base, though.  If the CDP is mostly wealthy, elderly people and is mostly choosing (not even bothering with primaries these days) elderly, moneyed people to represent them, then OF COURSE we're not going to have a majority rule state congress... that would upset the delicate balance which has allowed the Republicans (under cover of the Dems "having the arms tied behind the back, but we know they didn't reaaaaally mind) to brazilify the state.  Wealthy people, whether Dem or Republican, have already got theirs, and they don't need to be supporting other peoples' kids or the less fortunate.

Wealthy dems in Palo Alto don't give a flying *&^% about schools in Humboldt County... heck, they can't even agree on putting a subway in their neighborhood because it would "look tacky" despite raising housing values.  

The Dems have aged into the party of the status quo, which is why I respectfully suggest that they are going to purposefully give this election away-- it's in their better interest, and rich old white people don't do things that aren't in their interest.

But hey, we'll see.  Maybe Brown will have some sort of epiphany and come out of his Cave of Memories.

[ Parent ]
Great piece (0.00 / 0)
Certainly reflects my thoughts on where we're at -- thanks, Robert.

I'm perplexed. (5.00 / 1)
A significant portion of the Northern California delegates did not make the trip down here.

Pardon me if I'm being naive--perhaps this happens all the time--but it sure has the appearance of lack of enthusiasm.  Why didn't these folks go?

Where do we go to find out how many didn't attend, and who they were? Were any of them victors in contested elections for delegates, thereby depriving someone else of the opportunity to attend and then not going themselves?

Still seeking answers about delegates. (0.00 / 0)
I'm glad to see this thread so active, and appreciate everyone's perspectives.  The account of the vote-count sounds...odd. I'm an outside-the-party progressive, so maybe I'm asking the wrong questions. I'll look elsewhere and report back anything I find.

[ Parent ]
Excuse me too.. (5.00 / 1)
  Brown is a triangulating politician with a track record to prove it and Prop 13 is a perfect example.

I think we're going to have another "Obama" moment on the Democratic side. Where we want the electable and safe Brown, but what we really want is Laura Wells or Peter Schurman.

I think this is an opportunity for Peter to shine, but he needs the MSM to embrace him enough to give him a chance to say what he needs. The California Democratic Party is lined up behind Brown. This is why I believe Peter got in almost too late. Where was he when leading Progressives wanted somebody to primary Brown????

Brown is calling for debates, they need to include both The Green Party and Peter in those debated but we both know that won't happen unless we DEMAND IT.

We all know what needs to happen, let's do it.

Most certainly that's (5.00 / 1)
very important, I saw no progressive push for an alternative candidate to Brown, none.  And Peter was there, I saw him all over the place, I kept running into him, he spoke at the caucuses, etc.

And when Whitman called for Brown to debate primary opponent, there was just one mentioned, Richard Aguirre and to me, he's not someone I do take seriously, his plan is far fetched, costly and quite hair-brained.

So there are a lot of issues here.  I personally asked the Brown campaign what they thought of Schurman and was kind of peeved by the answer, it was unprofessional unnecessarily disparaging considering they really have nothing to worry about, why not be gracious.

Democrats know how important the next Governor is going to be to this State but the disappointing part is that no Democrat really seems excited to take the job.  The state, because of how it's set up is ungovernable and sets up any sane person to fail in hard times like now with the tyranny of the minority and now with the added craziness of the tea party, the ignorant outrage is mind boggling.

OC Progressive
Progress, not perfection!

[ Parent ]
Yes (0.00 / 0)
Yeah the ignorant outrage is out there, Some are anti-tax types and some are those who'd rather We have 50 separate countries with almost no government to speak of, talk about insanity. Minority rule should end, I'd love to replace the 2/3rds stuff on taxes with maybe a 1% to 2% ceiling on taxes being raised and only if there isn't enough revenue coming in like now to eliminate a shortfall in tax revenue and get rid of the 2/3rds requirement on the budget outright.

Also We need to repeal Fuhrer Arnolds 2008 and 2009 Corporate tax beaks and institute an oil severance tax on all oil pumped within this states boundaries, whether onshore or offshore. Plus examine some of the $40 Billion in State Tax loopholes and see which could be eliminated from the tax code. All these could be done instead of more insane cuts.

[ Parent ]
I saw... (5.00 / 2)
Aguirre at the convention in that blue jumpsuit(?) of his, and he seemed like he had just walked in after a workout from Venice Beach.  He makes Mickey Kaus look like a serious candidate.  I dunno, maybe he can secure the dumb vote.

Now I wonder, why wasn't there a push for a more progressive alternative to Brown much earlier on, say last year?  Lack of organization?  Unwillingness of any progressive to run for the seat?

BTW, Brown came to speak to CYD, and he did say something that brought down the room: he pledged to not only stop the fee increases for college students, but to ROLL THEM BACK.

And don't think we're not going to hold him accountable on that.

[ Parent ]
Well, for many (0.00 / 0)
Newsome was it, he wasn't perfect but they didn't think he'd drop out before the primary.

OC Progressive
Progress, not perfection!

[ Parent ]
Newsom, I always add an e to his name (0.00 / 0)
I'm telling you, this weekend wore me out and I wasn't even running for anything, I feel for the candidates!

OC Progressive
Progress, not perfection!

[ Parent ]
I'm Not So Sure (8.00 / 1)
I don't see real progressive leadership at the state level.  The President pro tem and (former) Speaker delivered two quite Republican budgets last year, without the consolation prize of getting significant GOP support.  The CDP Chairperson ignored the delegates' clear preference for a Lakoff-style reform of the rules in favor of a half-baked "budget only" proposal.  Steinberg delivered a water package that was everything business wanted, and to heck with the Delta.

I keep being reminded of Bruno's rant on West Wing:

I'm tired of working for candidates who make me think that I should be embarrassed to believe what I believe! I'm tired of getting them elected! We all need some therapy, because somebody came along and said, "'Liberal' means soft on crime, soft on drugs, soft on Communism, soft on defense, and we're gonna tax you back to the Stone Age because people shouldn't have to go to work if they don't want to!" And instead of saying, "Well, excuse me, you right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-education, anti-choice, pro-gun, Leave It To Beaver trip back to the Fifties...!", we cowered in the corner, and said, "Please. Don't. Hurt. Me." No more.

I've had enough of this.  Let the Apocolypse come, because then maybe we'll finally have the courage to do the progressive thing.

agreed (0.00 / 0)
It's time for a Line in the Sand.

[ Parent ]
Very good post (6.50 / 2)
And watching Burton's incredible antics at the podium, I was struck most by the contrast with what I consider the next generation of leadership.

I've had a chance to see and interact a little with John Chiang, Deborah Bowen and Dave Jones; all three strike me as incredibly talented, accessible, dedicated progressives who would follow into any battle.

Each of them articulates a progressive vision, and they do it not in vague terms or ideology, but in very concrete measures that are the actual responsibilities of the jobs they are elected to do.

OC Progressive is Gus Ayer, former Fountain Valley Council member.  

I'm hoping that the Governor *after* Brown (0.00 / 0)
will be one of those three or a few others.  We are building a better bench.

Burton's been good most of the time, but Marcy seems to have gotten under his skin.  On the other hand, she wasn't exactly trying to avoid it.  The "leave it to the locals" issue that Robert identifies did have a lot of sway, probably decisively.  That's OK.  Getting under 60% of the delegates to support upholding an 86.2% local endorsement is something that may resonate for Harman in upcoming votes.  At least, that's the theory.

[ Parent ]
There was no "war" that progressives won....... (0.00 / 0)
virtually all decisions on policy issues over the past 20 years have been made with almost unanimous agreement. There have been tactical differences...for example the decision to not take a statewide position on the medical marijuana act and leave it up to the county party committees ---but on Iraq, marraige equality, choice, labor, civil rights, foreign policy, net neutrality and consumer issues, the Dems are all together. There were splits on the tax measures last time around but the lineup was hardly progressive versus liberals(Sorry that it might ruin the story line but there are very few moderates on the Democratic State Central Committee).

You were wrong about Harman losing . I think you insult the integrity of the local activists in her district---very few people I've meet in the Party back down to incumbants. Maybe its difficult for you and some others to accept but the local Democrats prefer Harman over Winograd. I talked to a number of them..they like Jane even if they don't agree with one or two issues.  I suspect it won't just be the activists that support her...Harman will probably rack up a big win in June with the rank and file. But I agree with you this is not a loss for progressives even though the chair of the Progressive Caucus spoke for Winograd. Most of the people I talked to who voted for Harman felt she was right on most(but not all) of the issues and her overwhelming local support reminded delegates that people from Eureka, San Diego, Hollywood, Orange County and San Francisco shouldn't be overturning the local groups support in most cases. Self-identified progressives are the vast majority of delegates and yet a majority supported Harman.

Party leadership will usually rally behind incumbants, whether its Harman or Feinstein--but on the issues there has long been great agreement(except when the house of labor is divided).

A final note on the phony war---Art Torres did not make a quorum call to defeat anti-Iraq war resolutions. He pleaded with the person who made the call to withdraw it. He--like virtually all the delegates--supported all three of the anti-war resolutions(in fact the two which were delayed passed unanimously at the next executive board). Unfortunately, less than half of what would comprise a quorum was still there(many of those Northern California progressives you reference left early to catch flights home)and adhering to the the rules was not an anti-progressive move. The process that culminated in the quorum call was sloppy and the Party has codified its resolution rules to provide more transperancy. Not a pro or anti progressive move, just a move to ensure fairness.

With regard to the "overturning" argument (5.00 / 2)
Harman used that to win, but there's one rather massive flaw to that argument:

The endorsement is of the California Democratic Party. Not of the 36th District Democrats, not the Santa Monica or Redondo Beach Democrats, but the statewide party as a whole.

If the state party's name is being put to this endorsement, then no, the local delegates do not have the right to dictate what that endorsement will be.

The current rules reflect this. The local delegates make their recommendation. The relevant caucus at the CDP can further act on it. And then the whole party - all the delegates - ultimately decide whether they sign off on it or not.

The local recommendation carries enormous weight. Overturning it is possible but not easy. So the locals already have their voice, but since it is an endorsement of the state party as a whole, the locals do not have the right or the power to ensure that the rest of the state should go along with it.

Nor should they. If we are going to endorse as a state party - more on that in a moment - then the ultimate decision power has to rest with the entire delegate body, who must be able at times to reject the local recommendation if they see fit.

That is, if the party continues to endorse. Under the current electoral system, I do not believe the party should be doing so. If Prop 14 passes, however, we'll need to reassess the role of CDP endorsements in the top-two primaries. Prop 14, in fact, could very well make the endorsements far more contentious and therefore more important than they are now.

But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it in June. For now, I think the real story here is that the emerging belief among many Democrats - not just progressives - that blind incumbent protection is bad and that primary challenges are good and healthy is itself a belief that not everyone agrees with just yet. There's going to be a lot more fighting over this in the coming weeks, months, and years. It's a fight we need to have, and a fight we need to win.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
A lot of straw in that response.... (0.00 / 0)
I understand the rules. My argument said that in my opinon most delegates felt that the state convention "shouldn't be overturning the local groups support in most cases."
I understand the state convention has the power to overturn--reversse--fail to adopt--whatever verbage you feel most comfortable with--the local groups decision on who the local nominee will be. The state has the power to overturn these local decisions but most delegates respect the wishes of the local delegates. They know the people best and are in the best position to know who the best candidate should be. There are exceptions but I submit most delegates felt Harman was not the exception to the rule that you almost always go along with the local group. Her large margins of support--70-80% at the local caucus and the convention caucus--reinforced that perspective.

If Winograd has won the local endorsement and the State overturned it, there would have been cries of outrage of usurping the local grass roots and charges of conspiracy from the same people this weekend who insisted that the State delegates should overturn the local position . If Winograd would have won the local endorsement I would have  

[ Parent ]
supported the local caucus decision. (0.00 / 0)
I do agree with your opinion that we should junk the pre-primary endorsements in the current system but re-think the issue if Prop 14 wins.

[ Parent ]
Here's what I saw of the Winograd / Harman fight (5.00 / 1)
This is from the simi-live blog I was running at the convention for my local club this weekend. I say simi-live because there was no internet either at the hotel or at the convention center. The CDP didn't feel the need to turn it on. They called it a cost saving measure, but I have to wonder if it wasn't to help knock some of the wind out of the Progressive's sails.

Anyway, when I walked in I saw about a thousand Winograd signs and literally three Harman signs, and I had to walk all the way through the hall to get to my seat in Region 10 right up front. People were up at the mics making arguments for and against setting aside the pre-endorsement vote that took place in the 36th District in March. This whole fight was happening because Winograd had successfully had the pre-endorsement nomination pulled earlier in the month. Harman had won the pre-endorsement vote in her district with 72% of the vote of those delegates in the district that voted. Most of the arguments against setting aside the pre-endorsement vote revolved around the idea that the state party shouldn't vote to countermand the wishes of the constituents. Now I don't know what happened at the pre-endorsement, but Winograd should probably have pulled out a better performance. That said, I feel that Democracy demands that we hold our representatives accountable, and primary races and this type of action on the part of PDA and the Winograd campaign are how this is done. If the vote were in favor of setting aside the pre-endorsement vote, it would mean that effectively the CDP wouldn't endorse either candidate in the race, not that Winograd would be endorsed.

Chair Burton and the leadership including Eric Bauman seemed to be actively hostile to the Winograd campaign and the Progressives. After calling for an initial vote where the people for Winograd were to hold up their credentials, Burton dithered strangely and things became confused up onstage. It was weird and there was no one counting the votes. Then they started all over again and called for the vote starting with the Harman people this time.

They counted fairly quickly. Then it was the Winograd supporters and the Progressives turn. To me it looked like the Progressives had it. There was more dithering and conferring on stage and the vote took forever to count for some strange reason. Burton was really insulting to the Progressives, especially when he finally doddered over to the podium and belatedly told us to put down our hands as if he'd forgotten there was a vote going on. It was very strange and seemingly vindictive behavior. He then yelled at the crowd, apparently because someone had yelled something at him. Something about how he didn't think it was right for the state body to overturn the district's vote and he lauded Harman which he's not really supposed to do. I agree with you Robert that this is the CDP's endorsement and the pre-endorsements are recommendations.

Anyway, the vote totals they gave us were 599 for Harman and 417 for Winograd. That definitely didn't look like what I say, but whatever. I will say, Burton continued to act strange when he came up to the podium by saying that he didn't believe that the people counting the votes were "blind or that they can't count" which was kind of a strange comment. This was before he told us the numbers. Again, whatever. My guess is that during all the strange dithering while they were counting the Winograd vote, they might have made a decision to include the votes from the pre-endorsement the month before in the vote there on the convention floor. It would explain all the strange behavior and the numbers.

Let's think rationally for a moment (4.00 / 2)
1.  Didn't the Winograd campaign have observers  watching the tallying of the vote?  Has the Winograd campaign called 'foul' or objected to the tallying because of observed miscounting?  They were there for the counting process and they were backstage for the tallying of the vote.  If there were inconsistencies, why haven't we heard from them yet?

2.  599 + 417=1,016 delegates voted in this.  There were 1,993 credentialed voters for this convention.  That leaves 900+ votes that weren't organized by the Winograd campaign to stick around.  All they needed were 183 of those delegates to stick around and make the difference.  That's not even raising the discussion of the 900 or so delegates that did not even bother showing up at the convention.  

I voted against the challenge by Winograd, not because I like Jane Harman, but because I respect the will of the local delegates more than I dislike Jane Harman.  There are a few situations where I might have voted differently, such as if the member of Congress in question had a freezer full of cash they'd got caught with, but disagreeing with the member's position on issues isn't enough.  When we start subjecting our party members, elected or not, to ideological purity tests we might as well join the ranks of the Tea Partiers because we will have become like them.  This vote seemed to be more about Progressive Ideological Purity than anything else, and that's not good enough of a reason to overturn the local delegate's decision.

Now, if the vote total had been closer, enough to show that the difference made in garnering support for the incumbent was solely because of appointed delegates from elected officials instead of local delegates elected from the district, I might have had a different opinion.  I didn't hear a peep that this was the case in this particular circumstance.  If it was, the campaign should have done a better job.  What it looked like was a Progressive flexing of their political muscle and an attempt to strong-arm their candidate over the wishes of the local delegates.  

[ Parent ]
Ideological purity? (4.00 / 1)
Harman undermined our Constitution with her support of warrantless wiretapping and helped Bush get re-elected by assisting in the spiking of the NYT story in fall 2004.

It's not about "ideological purity," it's about the fact that Harman has gone out of her way to earn a rebuke from the state party.

As to the issue of "local delegates," keep in mind that as a DSCC delegate, the choice of who to endorse is yours. The local caucuses advise, and that carries weight, but the final choice is indeed your own. If you want to use that choice to say "I'll do whatever the locals say," fine, but keep in mind that many of those local delegates are handpicked by Harman and are not an objective reflection of Democratic sentiment in CA-36. Some grassroots delegates who weren't picked by or who don't owe anything to Harman still endorsed her, and those votes carry much more weight to me, even though I did still vote for no endorsement.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
Not a purity test. (5.00 / 1)
I'm not saying that the Winograd campaign has called foul or filed any complaints. I'm just reporting what it looked like to me and exactly what I heard. I disagree with the false equivalency that by pressuring a member of congress because of serious past transgressions, Progressives are somehow like Tea Partiers.  

Once again, I'll agree with Robert that the "overturning" argument is severely handicapped by the fact that the endorsement of Harman is the CDP endorsement. Not the CD 36 endorsement. I think it is healthy that we are questioning whether or not a congressperson like Harman should be endorsed by the CDP. As I stated earlier, it's one of the few way we have to try and keep candidates honest.

The term purity is rapidly becoming an slur, as in purity troll. What shall we call those who are willing to throw away any principle in the name of "winning"? Triangulators? Progressives are all for winning and large majorities in the Congress too, we just don't believe we should compromise our principles to that end.

[ Parent ]
a belated reply (5.00 / 1)
My apologies in taking so long to reply.  It wasn't meant as a sign of disrespect, just that my partner Robert and I took the kids to Disneyland after the convention and we spent all day there.  

I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq way back when, but I did believe the general opinion of the time about Saddam Hussein continuing to seek WMD and did not disbelieve the intelligence that was being presented.  Harman's actions at the time were questionable, and I do believe holding her accountable for those actions is appropriate.  What I don't believe is appropriate is what happened at this convention.  

Get a challenger to her and run in the primary: Great

Try to win over the local delegates to not endorse her: Great

Make a point at the convention by pulling her from the consent calendar and forcing another vote at the Saturday caucuses:  Fine, Okay, it makes a strong point and makes it clear that people aren't happy.

Pull it from Sunday's agenda just to make a point:  Not so good at all, especially when you have people trying to argue it's 'just to make it clear we're not happy'.  How does the California Democratic Party win by doing this?

The  whole point in the original post of "Progressives win" created a feeling in me that there was a war on between the California Democratic Party and California Progressives, and that Progressives believe they are separate from the CDP.  It's an Us versus Them mentality that is guaranteed to split the party and I believe has caused a lot of the problems over the last couple of years.  This latest battle over Harman's endorsement is just another example of this problematic mentality.  

If the Harman vote among local delegates had been swung by appointed delegates, I might see validity in the points made above, but the vote at Saturday's caucus was far too  overwhelmingly in support of Jane Harman to be swung solely by appointed delegates.  Had the vote been different, my vote on Sunday, and support of taking it to the floor would also have been different.  Coming in at 84% on Saturday sent a clear message that it was genuine support for Harman by her local delegates that carried the vote.  

Sometimes it's best to just bite our tongues and support the candidate with the most support.  In 2008, when my candidate (Hillary Clinton) lost the primaries to Barack Obama, I had to swallow my doubt about his comittment to LGBT issues and support him.  Since then, with just a lot of fancy speeches and a little bone or two here and there, I still largely bite my tongue and support him because he is our President and a Democrat.  When his Justice Department argues to support DOMA by saying that my partner and I aren't ideal for raising my niece and nephew, I don't call for his impeachment or consider trying to keep him from being endorsed as a Democrat.  Nor do I do either actions when he allows his Defense Department to kick out LGBT service members.  

As a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, as a member of congress who voted against DOMA the first time, as a member of Congress who voted FOR Health Care Reform, Jane Harman is far more supportive of me and my family than many other Democrats.  In some ways, she's done more for my family and I than Barack Obama has done.  Issue by issue, she's closer to the CDP platform than many other members of Congress whose endorsement the state progressives did not even try to block.  

Sunday's actions felt more like a witch hunt by progressives who were out for revenge because of a single issue: The Iraq War.  In doing so they stepped on the super-super majority of delegates from the 36th congressional district who made their opinion clear on Saturday.

If the actions of the state Progressives this last weekend were any indication of where you want to take the Democratic Party, I fear we will soon not only find ourselves in the minority, but we will have lost the meaning of being Democrats.  This whole Us versus Them mentality is divisive and will kill us as a party in the end.  We are all Democrats, and while we may not always agree, and while we may at times not even like each other, we can and should move forward in unity on the vast majority of issues upon which we agree.  

Sorry for repeating myself a few times in this, but it's the core of why this last weekend and the whole Harman fiasco has bothered me so much.  If the purpose was to rebuke Harman, run a dang resolution rebuking her for what she did back in 2002/2003.  Trying to block her endorsement when the local delegates overwhelmingly support her candidacy was simply abusive and petty.  It screams 'don't cross the progressives or we'll tar and feather you all we can'.  Is that what we want?

[ Parent ]
Not an us vs them proposition (0.00 / 0)
I disagree that the Progressives are trying to split the party or that we are against the rest of the party. Harman's transgressions go well beyond the the Iraq war. Wiretapping... Torture... Helping Bush get re-elected. Arguably these are not the actions of a Democrat. She is a Blue-Dog and that is why she has been the recipient of such ire.

When the primary is over and she is the official nominee, you won't find Progressives calling for a Republican victory in her district. But if she wins in November, we will have to wonder if a Democratic candidate actually won.  

[ Parent ]
Harman got 86% of her CD delegates' votes at the Convention. (0.00 / 0)
And since Winograd only got 72% at the initial CD caucus vote, that means the Winograd people couldn't even manage to get all of their delegates to show up at a convention in their own area.

DKirk is 100% correct.

I'd add that I have found the Winograd people's venom against Harman -- calling her a war profiteer, a torturer, and the like -- offensive.

(And no, I'm not a close relation or anything.  I think her husband is some kind of distant relative, but I've never met him.)

RM 'Auros' Harman
Delegate, A.D. 21, CA Dem State Central Committee
Treasurer, CADem Business and Professional Caucus
Board Member, Peninsula Democratic Coalition and Peninsula Young Dems

[ Parent ]
correction... (0.00 / 0)
Harman, not Winograd, got 72% at the initial caucus.

In any case, the point was that Harman performed better in the local-delegate vote count at the convention than at the initial caucus, which implies that Marcy couldn't get her people to show up, even though the convention was at most an hour's drive for any of them.  That shows pretty poor organizing skills.

Yet another example of a group that's loud and noticable, but doesn't get results.

RM 'Auros' Harman
Delegate, A.D. 21, CA Dem State Central Committee
Treasurer, CADem Business and Professional Caucus
Board Member, Peninsula Democratic Coalition and Peninsula Young Dems

[ Parent ]
I dunno... (0.00 / 0)
 I never said Peter wasn't visible to people to people that follow this stuff everyday and go to Conventions, but the vast majority of people don't follow races this closely and I can tell you for sure out of 100 people nobody knows who Pete or Laura is and who's fault is that?

Newsome dropped out because he wasn't able to get the money to mount an effective campaign against Brown. As for name recognition he would have worked.

Green Party candidates don't have the money to flood your email box, your mail box, the radio or TV with messages.

Democrats have been continually blamed Nader for the lost of the 2000 elections and say if we are serious about a third party it will garner enough votes to defeat a Democrat. Isn't this the reason why we should be worried about the "Tea Party"? Won't they splinter the Republican Party?

This is why I have a hard time taking the DNC and other National arms of the Democratic Party seriously. They are concerned about the Tea Party for what? They say 3rd Parties are a bad idea and then give some BS reason for not being further to the left.

What we have now is real GOP which is the Democratic Party and the nuts in the other GOP is the Republican Party.

Unless Brown channels his father (which he hasn't done up to this point) we'll end up with a Governor no worst than Arnold but no better either. He might support some things we want, not get in the way in others, but won't do the heavy lifting needed.

Not sure about excitement, its hard to get excited about Primaries, mid terms are always for the hard core, the party base anyway, not for the casual voter that comes around every 4 years.

The way I see it we the party base do the heavy lifting so the casual voter can just make the "right" choice when we REALLY need it.

With due respect, Mr. Cruickshank, Joe more or less got me right. (0.00 / 0)
Hi.  I'm Auros Harman.  (And I approved this message?)

I think Joe Garofoli got one word wrong in the quote -- I'm pretty sure I said "aren't", not "weren't" -- but his overall take on what I said is right.  I think there is a fair amount of affection and support for Barbara Boxer, who may not be a "visionary", but is passionate and effective on the most important progressive issue on which she has clout: climate change.  Her "elections have consequences" comment, putting James Inhofe in his place, was classic.

As for Jerry Brown, there are a lot of things I disagree with him about -- I particularly wish he, or ANYBODY in high office, would start trying to educate people about why commercial and industrial properties don't deserve Prop 13 assessment rules -- but the man's not afraid to try out new ideas, and again, if you care about energy policy and climate change, the guy is a hero.  It's because of his policies, and those implemented at the CA Public Utilities Commission by his appointee Robert Batinovich, that from the '70s on, California's energy-intensity (energy used per dollar of GDP generated) has vastly improved, while the rest of the country was getting worse.  Our GDP has soared, our population has increased, and yet our energy consumption has stayed more or less stable.  When the rest of the country finally follows our lead, it will free up billions of dollars that consumers and businesses currently waste on coal, oil, and gas; and, as a side benefit, it will make a large dent in our CO2 reduction goals.

I agree with you on the big picture -- it was terribly disappointing to see the brief period when we had 60 votes in the Senate produce so little truly transformative legislation.  The healthcare bill is a major achievement -- but could've been better.  The stimulus bill was important -- but could've been better.  And so on.  The Dems kept introducing their bills "pre-compromised" rather than introducing a strongly progressive bill and then telling the Repubs, "Say publicly what compromises would lead to you actually voting for the final product, and we'll consider it."  I kept wondering, "Don't any of our guys know how to play this game?!"

But still, I think Boxer and Brown will get the support they need, because folks like them -- in spite of any disagreements or disappointments.  Democrats know that you can consider somebody to be a good representative, while still questioning some of their choices.  The Tea Party is noisy -- not because they like anyone in particular, but because they hate Obama.  And, as we've seen, Republicans who court Tea Party support may face backlash for the slightest deviation from the TPers' crazy orthodoxy (birtherism, for instance), and in the long run, those old white folks are going to die off, and the new generation replacing them is not going to forget that the GOP was the party of spittle-flecked hatred.

We may not have foaming-at-the-mouth costumed loons ready for TV cameras, but history is on our side, and we have plenty of "regular folks" willing to join in phonebanking and precinct walking -- willing to do the work that actually wins elections.

RM 'Auros' Harman
Delegate, A.D. 21, CA Dem State Central Committee
Treasurer, CADem Business and Professional Caucus
Board Member, Peninsula Democratic Coalition and Peninsula Young Dems

Why people didn't come (0.00 / 0)
Most of the delegates I spoke to who didn't come said they couldn't afford it. After having put more than 900 miles on my car, paid the convention fees, bought a few meals, and paid for some distant--but more affordable--parking, I can see what they meant. If I wasn't still spry enough to walk far enough to get the cheaper parking, I'd have paid a LOT more. It's been a tough year financially. Most of these expenses went on my credit card. And my hotel was chez mother, 40 minutes away from downtown, but with free breakfasts. It was the only way I could afford to come myself.

While I applaud the increase in training sessions under the new administration, a convention can still be a frustrating time for many. Events overlap. Many are very early or quite late. Signage is lacking or confusing. This one involved a lot of walking. And, as I pointed out earlier, many of the delegates are not youngsters. It's not easy for some to scamper a few blocks to catch part of competing events--especially when you can't find them or didn't get the email or see the flyer. I missed a few that way. The votes that most of us come for are still held the very last thing on the very last day. And some couldn't stay that long. So there's always room for a quorum call of the type you mention. There's little formal opportunity for networking unless you can afford one of the paid meals or can stay up long enough for the evening events. When committee and caucus meetings start at 7 or 8 in the morning, that can be difficult too.

Given all this, it's hardly surprising that some delegates decide they just can't afford it all.

Hi Chris! (0.00 / 0)
I totally get what you're saying -- I was kind of ticked off that my own caucus, the Business and Professional group, was scheduled on Friday afternoon, when our core constituency was at their jobs.  We should've been given a Saturday time.

And yes, things are always insufficiently organized -- though of course, that's partly a function of never having enough staff hours to devote to the organization.

In any case, you still have to wonder why folks run for delegate slots, if they're not going to be able to make it?  Couldn't they at least make the effort to find proxies?  And, as somebody asked higher up the thread, isn't it unfair for these folks to run for slots, and then not use them?

One area where I think the party could make a difference: Making a serious effort to enable poorer out-of-towners to get lodging with locals.  Ask local delegates, and local politicos, to offer up crash space, or to tap their networks for the same.  Then folks can carpool in to the convention with people who know the area.  This would also function as a great form of cross-region networking.

RM 'Auros' Harman
Delegate, A.D. 21, CA Dem State Central Committee
Treasurer, CADem Business and Professional Caucus
Board Member, Peninsula Democratic Coalition and Peninsula Young Dems

[ Parent ]
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