Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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A Cost Worth Bearing: Sustainability and the Democratic National Convention

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At this year's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, considerable efforts have been made to "green" the event . From low-toxin paints to increased recycling, the convention and its organizers have taken on the immense challenge of putting their money where their political mouth is.

But as is sometimes the case, going green isn't easy logistically or financially. When asked about the additional costs incurred by greening the Democratic Convention, Chief Operating Officer Theo LeCompte responded that "moderate" additional costs were created.  

For those of us who don't believe the earth has an infinite amount of resources, additional costs are not a major deterrent. For many on the conservative side though, "additional costs" related to efforts at sustainability are unacceptable and a further indication that the "libs" are attempting to bankrupt the U.S.

Until the present, many advocates of sustainability have gone on the defensive, claiming that up-front costs of going green will be trumped by the long-term economic payoffs. Unfortunately, this argument in particular hasn't appeared to win over the hearts or minds of conservative nay-sayers.  

Positive Endorsements: A Better Way of Winning (Most of the Time)

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The great endorsement given to DNC committee member hopeful for Virginia Ben Tribbett by Chap Petersen and Leslie Byrne brought up an important phrase, "positive endorsement", that I have been as guilty as anyone else at neglecting. The shame of "negative endorsements" for Ben is that his stellar political record speaks for itself, no negativity need apply. Beyond Ben's political record, though, are the ideas that Ben stands to bring to the DNC and how these can sustain Democratic Party power, and consequently a better America for all Americans, for the foreseeable future.

Blue Virginia's own interview series with Ben revealed some of his ideas about pushing the DNC and the Democratic Party into the 21st Century with confidence and momentum. The first idea surrounded social media and its use to enhance the effective use of the Voter Activation Network.  Secondly, Ben is a "grassroots guy" who understands the dynamics, concerns, and wants of the folks who are the backbone of the Democratic Party.  You can't run a representative body effectively unless you actually know what those you represent want, duh! Lastly, and following the second point, Ben will bring a democratic sentiment to the DNC.  Administrating within a political organization like the DNC is about looking out for those who are governed for and Ben knows this.

In these passionate political times, it's easy to "go negative," even against members of our own party who have served with some distinction.

But guys like Ben who truly care about "the people" and REALLY want to make a difference in for the better are rare, so rare that winning with whatever means necessary seems reasonable.

Ben's political record and compassion speak for themselves, however. When the votes are completely tallied, that should be all that's needed to elect Ben to the DNC.  

Where Was Frank Leone in 2009?

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Suspend disbelief; somehow 2013 will be different than 2009 because a slate of insiders will shake up the DPVA. Democrats will win more because we will get more of the same old thing. Somehow maneuvering the rules to one's advantage is more important than leadership, innovation, and success.

"Democrats did an extraordinary job in winning Virginia for President Obama in 2008, but that momentum did not carry through to 2009 statewide campaigns...One my priorities for my next term on the DNC will be to work with DPVA and the DNC to have a smooth transition that will enable us to carry Virginia both for the Presidential and the Gubernatorial (and other 2013) campaigns."  - Frank Leone's blog

DPVA played a passive role in 2008, staying out of Obama's way after a lukewarm introduction. A fundamental deficiency of the DPVA: there is no ground game. Plankholders in the DPVA were late to the Obama wave and failed to fully embrace his candidacy or his Presidency. DPVA willingly rode along to the battle so long as Obama provided the army; reminiscent of first Manassas. The pitiable DPVA cheering squad, left to its own devices in 2009, fell back on an amorphous strategy of abandoning an identity with the Democratic Party. The entire strategy was centered on preserving incumbency. Even that limited objective was lost.

What Democrats get in Virginia is a grand appreciation for accounting and an absolute disregard for investment. We focus on keeping an accurate count of our diminishing influence. That explains the redistricting fiasco. That explains why we counted on the Obama chickens but laid a statewide egg in 2009 when we couldn't keep them in the coop. Where was Frank's strategy then? But to be fair, he was and is really just an observer no matter the bloviating on his blog. There is nothing any DNC member can do to sway Senator Saslaw's strategy of self-preservation, making much of Frank's ideas hollow.

So, if you want a DNC member who can explain the failure process precisely, you have your man. Or maybe Frank would put it this way: you have your NOVA white guy. Really? Vote for me because I'm the white guy from Arlington?

Oh, and for a bit more accounting, be aware that these are not the only Virginia seats at the DNC table. There are at least two more that must be considered in the representative mix. But that doesn't help Frank's calculus.

Frank Leone’s Conflict of Interest: A Case Against His Reelection to...

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Next to Frank Leone's substantial conflict of interest  between his "day job" and his alleged Democratic Party values during the evenings and weekends, Brian Moran looks like St. Francis of Assisi.  Given Frank Leone's reelection bid for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on June 2, this point is all the more significant. Do Virginians want to elect an individual to the Democratic National Committee who protects some of the most vile environmental and human health offenders, a man whose law firm boasts of defending "DDT and related pesticides" on its official website?

"Our partners' experience in the environmental area dates back to the early 1970s, when several of them were involved in the world-wide defense of DDT and related pesticides as well as some of the earliest litigation under the then-new federal air and water statutes. As the number and diversity of state and federal environmental regulatory programs have grown in the intervening years, so has our practice."

No longer can or should the Democratic Party tolerate the type of pseudo Democrat that Frank Leone represents, the type whose greatest affinity is for Big Business and, by association, the Republican Party. If you value money, that's fine, so do I. If you value the rule of law, that's great, I do as well. But Mr. Leone's job has consistently been to bend and pervert the law for client's whose dubious business practices should have been legally punished, not allowed to continue business as usual.  

When Democrats Must Vote in GOP Primaries

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A couple of months ago, Frank Leone opined that "Virginia Democrats Shouldn't Vote in GOP Primaries." His legalistic rationale: it's "malevolent interference." Well, here's the bottom line, without a Democratic candidate in the race, Republicans have all the say. There's nothing malevolent about wanting a vote in your representation.
"One caveat - there may be the rare time when people actually think a GOP candidate is worth voting for (McCain in 2000, some would say) - but mostly Democrats think that they want to vote for the 'weaker' GOP candidate. Don't bother." - Leone
Frank seems blind to the fact that Virginia Democrats increasingly have no say in local and state elections unless they vote in Republican primaries or for Republicans. City and County Democratic Committees are reluctant for many reasons (some not so honorable) to field any candidates at all. And if there is no Democratic candidate, then the only say Democrats have is by voting in the Republican primary or backing an Independent or Republican in the general election, hoping a less reactionary soul will win out. That is not malevolent. It is informed self-interest. Frank is really expressing the self-cultivated paranoia of the DPVA Central Committee. They know Republicans pull off malevolence without a hitch. They also know that they just don't have what it takes to organize a successful raid on a Republican primary.

Former DNC Chairs Support Marriage Equality . . . Who’s Missing?

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Interesting development in the push to include marriage equality as a plank in the Democratic platform adopted in Charlotte later this year:

Four former chairs of the Democratic National Committee called on the party on Wednesday to embrace marriage equality in the 2012 Democratic platform.

"We are proud that the Democratic Party fights for working families, economic justice, and equal opportunity for all," said Howard Dean, Donald Fowler, Steve Grossman and David Wilhelm in a joint statement. "Times change but our principles must always remain strong. That is why, as former chairs of the Democratic National Committee, we stand with Freedom to Marry, 22 Democratic senators, Leader Nancy Pelosi, and more than 35,000 Americans in urging the Party to include a freedom to marry plank in the platform that is ratified at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this September."

Dean, the former governor of Vermont, served as DNC chair from 2005 to 2009. Massachusetts Treasurer Steve Grossman led the organization from 1997 to 1999. Fowler was South Carolina state party executive director and CEO of the DNC convention in Atlanta in 1988 and was DNC chair from 1995 to 1997. Wilhelm ran the day-to-day operations of the 1992 Clinton-Gore presidential campaign and was DNC chair from 1993 to 1994.

A Party In Search of a Message

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If the leadership of the Democratic Party of Virginia has any smarts at all (which I doubt), they will read carefully the direct, cogent, and insightful comments that have been posted in the past several days on Blue Virginia and on the petition at change.org and seriously consider how to implement some of the improvements recommended there.  

I want to focus on one criticism that occurs over and over in both places: the lack of a message that can be repeated enough to refute the "no taxes, no government" echo chamber that comprises the Republican message. We Virginia Democrats need a strong message, and we also must learn how to "market" that message to the voters. In every campaign there is an unspoken question in the minds of every voter. "Why should I vote for that candidate?" The answer to that question is what a message should entail.

As one person said on Blue Virginia, "We need a message.  A consistent, compact, hard-hitting message... A message that we spread all day every day - not just for 30 days before an election."

Another person stated, "All the organization in the world won't do any good without a consistent message that can be stated briefly, that grabs attention," Or, how about this comment? "Have a message, give the message, and give the message again. Make it a strong, unabashed Democratic message. Short and sweet and firm."

The Democratic National Committee has an excellent mission statement on its website, one that can easily be made into a message for Virginia.

You Rock, Debbie Wasserman Schultz!

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A calm, cool, and highly effective response to the utterly crazy, classless comments by right-wing extremist Rep. Allen West (Teabagger Extraordinaire) about DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Nice job, keep up the great work!

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Selected as New DNC Chair

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Excellent pick for DNC Chair!
President Barack Obama has settled on Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) as the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, top Democratic sources said Tuesday.

Wasserman Schultz, 44, was chosen for her strength as a fund-raiser and as a television messenger, and for her clout in the crucial swing state of Florida, the sources said.

I had a chance to meet Rep. Wasserman Schultz at an event in Arlington in March 2010 and was very impressed. Congratulations!

Tom Perriello for DNC Chairman

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Cross posted at Daily Kos

While Republicans discuss potential replacements for Michael Steele at the RNC, there has been surprisingly little commentary about what to do over at the DNC.  Tim Kaine is a nice guy who did a good job beating the RNC on the fundraising side - though, with the flood of unregulated corporate money going to secretive front groups this election, that didn't end up mattering very much.

But where Kaine and the DNC utterly failed is in getting out a clear, convincing Democratic message.  Remarkably, Dems lost the votes of millions of people who agree with them on a broad range of issues.  When you have voters believing that John Boehner will do a better job standing up to Wall Street than Barack Obama, it's obvious that something this election season went very, very wrong.  Democrats failed to motivate the Obama voters, including the young and minority groups, and proved unconvincing to working class constituencies who have the most to gain from Obama administration policies on health care, credit, student loans, etc.

Cleaning up these messes and rebuilding the Democratic base will require bringing in new faces with fresh perspectives.  One who should be at the top of the list is a just-defeated Democratic Congressman who became a nationwide hero for not backing down from his progressive, pro-Obama positions in a tough, conservative district - Tom Perriello.