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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

  • Help end world hunger
  • Friday, November 06, 2009

    Progressive Democrat Issue 235

    This blog got some major readership during the election. Not sure how much of an effect it had, but certainly in some of the smaller races where I cover Progressive Majority candidates I think I make a bit of a difference.

    Lots of election roundups in this issue. Progressive candidates did very well in Washington State and Minnesota. Not so well in Pennsylvania or Colorado. Virginia and New Jersey governorships switch to Republican. NYC continues to be dominated by political machines and developer money. I would say that the elections were NOT a referendum on Obama, who remains very popular everywhere but the South. Rather it is a referendum on the Democratic Party which has been tending to do what it always does--water down its message until it no longer seems to stand for anything. This always happens for good, logical reasons. But people don't vote for good, logical reasons. They vote for a strong message that they feel attracted to and the Democratic Party is not delivering that right now. Obama often is, but the party as a whole is not. That is what is happening.

    I mention this in some of my coverage below, but I want two clear lessons from this year's elections to be noted.

    First, corruption is starting to be a winning strategy again. In 2006 and 2008 corruption was a major factor in defeats around the nation. Many Republicans and a few Democrats lost elections because of corruption. It now seems voters are going back to their earlier acceptance of corruption. I say this partly because of results in NYC (where corruption was never really rejected) but also in New Jersey where someone who was clearly corrupt was just elected Governor.

    But the other lesson is one that Democrats should have learned years ago and need to keep being reminded of: the weaker your message, the greater your chances of losing. Republicans can lie, steal and cheat their way to victory. Democrats have to clearly and strongly and honestly state their message and they do well. After winning big on a strong message in 2006 and 2008, Democrats are backing off from that strong message. This is hurting them. You DON'T win votes with a wimpy message. Corzine in New Jersey was always something of a weak candidate. He never offered a strong message to voters. That left him vulnerable even to a Republican whose "clean" image had become seriously tarnished by revelations of corruption. In Virginia Creigh Deeds looked to have a real shot when he was running a more progressive campaign. Then he started to run to the right more and more. As he ran to the right his support faded. To all Democrats out there: a good honest campaign with a clear, strong message is what wins it for Democrats. Never lose sight of that. Perhaps it is time to remind everyone of a little book that I believe Obama made use of called The Political Brain by Drew Westen. In it Westen uses psychological and neurolgical analysis (real science!) to show what works and what doesn't in an election. Obama, from what I can tell, made use of Westen's ideas to great effect. Clinton also used similar tactics and is, to some degree, a model of what works in Westen's book (as is FDR). Democrats need to read this book and always keep it in mind.

    Voter apathy (which includes acceptance of corruption in their politicians) mixed with a weak Democratic message usually means a win for Republicans. I sure hope our Democratic leaders across the country are paying attention to that lesson. Going along with that lesson is the fact that Blue Dog Democrats are seeing a substantial fall off in their fundraising while an aggressive progressive like Alan Grayson was able to raise over $500,000 in 24 hours by pushing a strong progressive message on health care reform (I chipped in $25, which is all I can afford right now). The message Grayson was emphasizing to inspire that $500,000 in 24 hours:

    And while we are on the topic of a strong progressive message from Congress, over the objections of anti-American Republicans, the Senate passed a bill extending unemployment benefits.

    I also am adding to many of the state focus pages contact info for how you can get active in healthcare reform in your area. We have to keep up the pressure...in fact we have to increase the pressure. Check your state page for contact info or go to Health Care for America Now.

    One final bit of information that may be under most people's radar. Remember back in 2007 there was an odd incident where some Israeli jets violated Syrian airspace and there was some dispute about what really happened? I considered it very telling that although there was a clear border violation, NEITHER nation really wanted to make a big deal of the event. Of course there were accusations going back and forth, but overall both Israel and Syria kind of wanted everyone to stop talking about it as if BOTH nations had something to hide. Well, Salon.com has an article on what seems to have happened.

    Here is this week's newsletter:


    The Return of Homeland Security Presidential Directive #12

    Why Do Republicans Hate Our Veterans?

    Ned Lamont Announces Run for CT Gov

    Silicon Valley Area, CA Focus

    Orange County, CA Focus

    San Diego, CA Focus


    NYC FOCUS: Did the elections matter?

    Brooklyn, NY Focus

    Queens, NY Focus

    Bronx, NY Focus


    Austin/Travis County, TX Focus

    Dallas County, TX Focus

    Houston/Harris County, TX. Focus


    Atlanta, GA Focus

    Fayette County, GA Focus

    Coweta County, GA Focus


    Warren County, NJ Focus

    Sussex County, NJ Focus

    Passaic County, NJ Focus



    Michigan Congressman John Conyers: Public Option Is Necessary



    Charlottesville/Albemarle County, VA Foucus

    Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania County, VA Focus

    Hanover County, VA Focus



    Latest from Alex Sink for Florida Governor

    Florida Alliance for Retired Americans on Healthcare Reform



    Illinois Focus: Melissa Bean and Bill Foster, Give Us Our Healthcare These two are definitely critical to reform efforts. Please keep writing them and get them to support a strong Public Option.


    IOWA ACTION: Help protect air quality in northwest Iowa


    Wisconsin for Healthcare Reform: Facts and Actions


    Colorado Senator Bennet On Healthcare Reform


    Nevada: Public Option Model that SAVES Money


    North Carolina Justice Center: Myths About Health Reform



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