In 2000, Nader’s candidacy was the combination of Comey letter / Russian Rumors that allowed the Gore campaign and the DC consultants to point a finger at something other than their own incompetency and failure to fight for every vote in Florida.
At the time I remember, well, the uproar when Nader said the two political parties are pretty much the same. He was roasted for that by many including me, but what he was speaking about overall, has come true.
This interview in the Intercept is brilliant and is a must read for anyone who wants to help fix the Democratic Party, or probably more likely at this stage create a party. I learned so much from it.
Here are the quotes that really jumped out at me.
First he traces the shift in Democratic fundraising strategy back to 1979 – when we were all just little baby Democrats –
Nader calls these millstones around the neck of the Democrats.
The first big one was in 1979. Tony Coelho, who was a congressman from California, and who ran the House Democratic Campaign treasure chest, convinced the Democrats that they should bid for corporate money, corporate PACs, that they could raise a lot of money. Why leave it up to Republicans and simply rely on the dwindling labor union base for money, when you had a huge honeypot in the corporate area?
That was a huge decision that caused major (and still does) brand damage to the Democrats.
I think this observation on Reagan and the impact it had on politics and on the Democrats is also spot on.
The second millstone is that they didn’t know how to deal with Reagan. And the Republicans took note. That means a soft tone, smiling … You can say terrible things and do terrible things as long as you have [that] type of presentation.[Democrats] were still thinking Republican conservatives were dull, stupid, and humorless. They didn’t adjust.
I had never thought about that – but it’s true – Reagan changed how the conservative Republicans presented themselves in a unique and extraordinary way.
But with all our focus on the Midwest and rust belt voters, that was where this article really opened my eyes.
You don’t run a 50-state [presidential] campaign. If you don’t run a 50-state campaign, number one you’re strengthening the opposing party in those states you’ve abandoned, so they can take those states for granted and concentrate on the states that are in the grey area. That was flub number one.
Flub number two is what Ben Barnes, the politically-savvy guy in Texas, told me. He said, when you don’t contest the presidential race in Texas, it rots the whole party down … all the way to mayors and city council. So it replicates this decadence and powerlessness for future years.
When they abandoned the red states, they abandoned five states in the Rocky Mountain area, and started out with a handicap of nine or ten senators.
You may remember from your history, the two senators from Montana were Democrats, Senator Church from Idaho was a Democrat, Senator Frank Moss, great consumer champion, Democrat from Utah. Now there’s almost nobody. The two senators from Wyoming are Republican, the two senators from Montana are Republican [John Tester, the senior Montana senator, is a Democrat], the two senators from Utah are Republican. I think the Democrats have one seat in Colorado. Then you get down to Arizona and that’s two Republicans.
So they never had a veto-proof majority even at their peak in the Senate. And of course later when they weren’t at their peak it cost them the Senate again and again. And now they’re in a huge hole, with the debacle in the Senate races in 2016, they’re facing three times as many Democrats up for reelection in 2018.
This also showed me why this won’t be a quick fix – we are talking 30 – 40 years of destruction of basic party principals – we will have to figure out how we get back to where we should be – or how we start a new party that does that.
Great article Jon Schwartz. Thank you.