Bring back the Yippies

How would Abbie Hoffman have given testimony to the new House Benghazi! committee?

Weekend competition. How would Abbie Hoffman have given testimony to the new House Benghazi! committee?

300px-Flag_of_Yippies.svg Yes, there is an issue of bad taste since people died in the Benghazi consulate. The issue applies first to the creation of the committee as an electoral stunt.

Yippie flag courtesy of Wikipedia

Progressive activism and the politics of federalism

Kos is right to say that progressives who don’t like Clinton should focus on non-presidential politics. But this brings up a bigger point about why Progressives have come to think like monarchists.

An eon ago in blogtime, Kos dared to tell the truth that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee in 2016. More controversially, he argued that, given Clinton’s organizational advantages and broad, overwhelming popularity in the party, progressives who don’t particularly love her politics, as Kos doesn’t, should avoid wasting their time and donations supporting a populist Democrat against her in the primaries—which will only break their hearts—and focus instead on down-ballot races. Those races really matter, for reasons that shouldn’t need stating (though Kos lists a few) and progressive candidates might actually win some of them.

I agree with about 90 percent of what Kos wrote. I would only add that down-ballot races not only matter in themselves—legislatures, by the dog, make the laws—but also provide excellent opportunities for slowly taking over a party. When the religious Right in the late 60s and early 70s felt outraged by what it saw as creeping secularism (especially the Supreme Court’s ban on school prayer), it voted for the relatively secular Nixon for President but focused its real energy on taking over school boards, city councils, and local Republican precinct organizations. Now, in many parts of the South and West, and to a large degree on the national level, the religious Right is the Republican Party: not every Republican must adopt its rhetoric, but none may oppose its core policy positions. More recently and on the other side, the Working Families Party, which leans social-democratic and regards the Democrats as frenemies, has scored impressive successes, where the local demographics and ideology lean in its favor, by starting with school boards and city councils.

In some sense, Kos’ point should be obvious. It combines three basic insights: that the efforts of one person make the most difference in the smallest settings; that it’s good strategy to pick one’s battles; and that the U.S. political system is sprawling and decentralized, with multiple centers of real power—which is bad for accountability, but good for activists looking for somewhere to make a difference. Surely smart people, on reflection, already know all three of these things. But why, judging by the comments Kos has earned, do progressives have a hard time drawing the conclusion?

Continue reading “Progressive activism and the politics of federalism”

Vladimir Mikhainovich Romneyov

Obvious GOP candidate for 2016: gun-lover, gay-baiter, hates liberals. And you can see Russia from his house.

There’s lots of nonsense being talked about how the Republicans don’t have a natural candidate for 2016.

In fact, there’s someone with (1) huge name recognition; (2) a strong anti-gay record; (3) unlimited willingness to violate human rights in “anti-terrorist” campaigns; (4) a love of weapons and cheap machismo; and (5) no liberal tendencies whatsoever. Mitt Romney praises him.  As an extra bonus, you can see Russia from his house.

Ted Cruz, eat your heart out!