Back in-person business

We haven’t seen each other in a long, long time. We are putting in-person Indivisible Elmwood back on the schedule, with an initial meeting for May 23, 4:00 pm at the usual safe house. Naomi and I are both fully-vaccinated (Pfizer). We expect all of you are, too. Yes, there will be chocolate brownies. And a lot to catch up on. RSVP.

Virginia House of Delegates

“Isn’t this where we came in?”

Four years ago, we were getting the Virginia Democrats into within a coin-flip of state control. Now it is time to defend and extend.

I have volunteered, via Bluebonnet, to do data diving for Ben Moses, the Democratic candidate for the 59th House of Delegates [Assembly] district. He’s an M.D. and served as an Army doctor. Great bio. This district is in green on the map. No cities, and the only town you have heard of is Appomattox, where Robert E. Lee surrendered.

VA HD-59

This is a tough district, the eleventh-most Trumpy out of one hundred. But the Republican incumbent has convictions for DUI, illegal hunting, and minor weapons violations. He is also a pathetic fundraiser who may have to be bailed out by the larger party, taking away contributions that could go elsewhere.

I don’t want to reveal the Moses campaign’s plans and inner workings, but it is a matter of public record that he has already raised more than the Democrat from last cycle, with six months to go. This is the first time the Democrat has serious professional organizing. I am considering hosting a fundraiser for him as an Indivisible Elmwood event. Who would be interested?

Of course, the candidates we have supported before, Alex Askew and Nancy Guy, also need funds for their re-election. However, Joe Biden carried their districts by about 10 points. They need to get identified Democrats who have voted before to go to the polls. Moses needs to turn out infrequent and new voters, which will be more expensive.

SB 271 for better Sheriffs

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has introduced SB 271, the Sheriff Democracy and Diversity Act, to allow all registered voters to run for Sheriff — reverting back to the eligibility requirements in place from 1850 until 1989.

“Liberal” Alameda County has a particularly bad sheriff, a Republican friend of ICE, manager of notoriously abusive Santa Rita Jail, and promoter of militarized policing. A major reason is the 1988 requirement that restricted sheriff candidates to law enforcement officers in reaction to the 1980 election of reformist prison lawyer Michael Hennessy as Sheriff of San Francisco.

Indivisible Elmwood has nominated SB 271 to California State Strong for endorsement by the state Indivisible organization. The coalition supporting this bill now seeks endorsements and support letters from all possible organizations, professional associations, religious congregations, local governing bodies, institutions, etc. Please promote this bill widely. Contact Judith Stacey: judith.stacey@nyu.edu for additional information, to arrange a zoom, and/or to provide a support letter or endorsement. Thank you so much.

Weiner’s full press release.

Fact Sheet.

Sample support letter.

Actions we can take after the failed insurrection

Indivisible groups around the state and nation are putting pressure on their Congressional representatives to act promptly to forestall additional damage to our democracy and national security from Trump and his followers. Scripts from national Indivisible for calls or emails are online here and here. If you prefer a shorter version, I’ve emailed this message to Diane Feinstein and Barbara Lee:

Trump is an immediate threat to American democracy and national security.  It is absolutely essential that you take a leadership role in getting him removed from office ASAP via the 25th amendment, impeachment, or any other constitutional means—before he pardons anyone else, incites any more violence, or does further damage.  Every hour Trump remains in office, he presents increased danger to democracy and safety.

Bruce

We win Georgia x 2

I doubt any of you are waiting for Indivisible Elmwood to make its declaration, but we have flipped both Senate seats in Georgia. Senator Raphael Warnock. Senator Jon Ossoff. Not entirely how I expected the Democrats to regain control of the Senate! Al Gross didn’t come close and the insipid Cal Cunningham made the always-fatal mistake of cheating on his mistress.

We sent a great deal of money, postcards, letters, texts, and phone calls to help make this happen. The margins are close. Every act helped. Sometimes you get the miracle.

Donations that build for the future—the Movement Voter Project

As we look back on the achievements and shortcomings of our Indivisible Elmwood work over the past months, our support for the Movement Voter Project has represented something a bit different—a longer term investment in the future we’re hoping for.  The MVP approach is described on their web site here, and they’ve just produced a YouTube video that’s worth watching if you’d like to feel good about our political efforts this year.  And needless to say, the Movement Voter Project could put new donations to good use in Georgia and beyond!  B&B

On the fraudulent claims of fraud in Michigan

Far better than the average article in Politico, Tim Alberta gives us the timeline of the ginned-up fraud claims in Michigan, stopped when one small-town conservative lawyer clearly said: No.

Sample

And when [Republican Senate candidate John James] says he’s troubled that half of Michigan’s voters feel they were cheated, he would do well to remember that he was the one telling them they got cheated in the first place.

Tim Alberta, The Inside Story of Michigan’s Fake Voter Fraud Scandal

Next Steps:

We fought the Trump abomination from College and Ashby and we won!

Thanks to those of you who joined us for a discussion about the future of our group. Here are the main points from our meeting:

  1. We will need some time to find and digest all the analysis that will take place of what exactly happened in November and which actions were most useful. Everyone is interested in building up a progressive ground game in the swing states.
  2. Meanwhile, the website is useful so it will stay in operation. Andy will continue to post his analysis and everyone else is welcome to post any and all information and updates. If you want to post and can’t, Andy can give you permission. Just email him.
  3. Meetings are on a hiatus. We’ll resume at some time in the future when we have a clearer idea of what we (that means all of us) want to take up next.
  4. Congratulations to Sally Brooks for winning our “Guess how much we raised” contest. We have three terrific pieces of political swag for you.
  5. Finally, THINK GEORGIA. Donate via EBAA to Voter Movement Project (supports 13 grass roots groups in Georgia, not tax deductible) and to Stacey Abrams’ tax-deductible project Fair Count.

Some first lessons from the election

About five minutes after I closed our Election Night Zoom fifty years ago (or so it feels), Atlanta reported its first results and the NY Times Georgia needle lurched from +1 Trump to +0.4 Biden. (The final result is +0.2 Biden.) My mood brightened, and by the time I went to sleep, early next morning, Wisconsin and Michigan had counted enough for Biden to have pulled even.

Nothing, however, saved our down ballot results. We lost all the toss-ups, and some we were expected to win. I can’t pretend to have definitive answers, but partial results follow, of which the most important, for Indivisible purposes, is the first.

We thought that more voter engagement and higher turnout were unequivocally positive signs.

And this is false. Turnout was the best in a century—but! We discovered there was still a huge reservoir of pro-Trump voters who had not voted in 2016. Biden lost Texas (not close) with more votes than Trump got there in 2016 (not close either). Trump got more votes than Obama ever did, and I believe in every state we flipped, Trump ran better in defeat than he had winning in 2016.

Democrats seem split about whether to get even more infrequent but pro-D voters to the polls (youth turnout was still only ~55%), trying to win over rural white Trump voters, or (my preference) discouraging rural white voters enough they revert to non-voting.

As someone who formerly believed this postulate, I don’t know what to say: I think it is important we try to increase political participation and have a better-informed citizenry, but about half of the increase is from citizens who are “informed” by Newsmax, Facebook, and other disinformation sewers.

To keep things in perspective, the reversal of the 2018 Wave leaves the situation we expected after the 2016 election.

That is, a moderate-sized Presidential Victory, a narrow House majority, and a very close Senate. Unfortunately, we have to hope this is enough to start undoing the damage of the Trump Regime.

We were partially a victim of our own polling leads

Late-in-cycle polls showed R down ballot candidates improving, apparently as Republicans against Trump decided Biden was going to win and they could cast their usual ballot, except for President.

Democratic messaging still needs work

Bruce is, of course, correct that Defund the Police is an idiotic slogan and a gift to the Republicans. Biden repudiated it, but it was still out there enough to be used in anti-D ads. What makes this doubly annoying is that a majority of the country thinks we have serious problems with policing as currently constituted. Better slogans on the same issue could have been used as positives.

The Cunningham and Gideon campaigns are coming in for special messaging criticism, too much of the old “Watch me work across the aisle” nonsense that hasn’t worked for Democrats since the dawn of time: see Donnelly (IN), MacGrady (NC-09 twice), etc. Of course, Cunningham made the same terrible error as Gary Hart: he cheated on his regular mistress, who then blabbed to the press.

Outreach to Spanish-speaking voters failed in Florida and especially Texas

Before jumping to the wrong conclusion, note that there was no similar failure in Arizona and Nevada. Beto O’Rourke has written on what he thinks went wrong. (Note that when AOC, Beto, and sacrificial lamb Doug Jones all make similar comments about party errors, they are probably on to something.) I’ve heard that our Spanish-language ads were late and few, which can not be blamed on lack of money: Democrats everywhere had plenty of money. Some of the problem was R willingness to ignore the coronavirus and do canvassing as usual in areas that need it. This may help us down the road by killing off more of their volunteers and supporters. In Florida, I’ve heard that the D are too associated with “socialism”, while on the other hand Bernie Sanders did better-than-average there, so, hmmm. Historians of race relations point out that one way groups like Cuban and Venezuelan immigrants might assimilate into the dominate, white American society is by joining in oppression of African Americans, following a path trod by German, Irish, and Italian immigrants generations back. Let’s see what we can learn looking at the results more closely. And, let’s clone Stacey Abrams and send her to Miami-Dade, the Rio Grande Valley, and North Carolina, because she will find any voters we can get but haven’t.