The DNC's Right Realignment

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Enter Stage Right: Patrick Murphy (U.S. Rep. Florida) 

By Elizabeth Mahoney

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. DSA’s perspective on the 2016 elections can be found here. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

On July 26, concurrent to the Democratic National Convention’s star-studded attempt to make everybody forget everything that transpired during the primary, New York Mag published a great piece on the Florida senatorial race. What they call “the second-strangest campaign of the season” is worth reading about for a few reasons; because the general election might be able to defeat Marco Rubio’s mercurial reentry into national politics and hand a rare Florida win to the Democrats; because Alan Grayson — the $16-million-tax-haven owner, who, policywise, lands on the left wing of the Democratic Party — is great entertainment; and because Grayson’s primary rival, Patrick Murphy, is a quiet, but powerful, signal of where the Dems are headed.

According to NY Mag:

The son of a construction magnate, Murphy initially followed his father into the GOP. In 2007, he made a $2,300 campaign donation to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Strange. What’s he doing in a Democratic primary?

Murphy explained that the subsequent rise of the tea party persuaded him to become a Democrat. In 2012, he decided to run for Congress. Fortified by $550,000 in donations from his father, Tom, to two super-pacs supporting his candidacy, Murphy beat the tea-party darling Allen West by fewer than 2,000 votes in what was that year’s most expensive House race. He was assigned to a seat on the Financial Services Committee, which he used to hoover up campaign donations. With a campaign war chest of $5.2 million in 2014 — the second-largest of any Democratic House candidate that year — Murphy won reelection by almost 20 points.

Wow! So what’s he done in office?

Ranked among the most conservative House Democrats by National Journal, Murphy voted in favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline and tougher security checks on Syrian refugees. 

Democratic kingmakers […] also respected the elbow grease he showed in seeking their endorsements. “We busted our tail trying to get that support from everybody,” Murphy told me. It didn’t hurt Murphy’s cause that his father began giving generously to other Democrats. In the past few years, Tom Murphy has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and their affiliated super-pacs.

Patrick Murphy represents the perfect confluence of establishment Democrat strategy and establishment Republican meltdown. He didn’t switch parties because he saw the light of liberalism — he switched because he, like many old-guard conservatives, was outflanked by the Tea Party. And the formidable institutional support he’s won from the DNC seems to come from two things: their insistence that the only way to win in red states is to appear as indistinguishable as possible from the conservatives they oppose; and his father’s money.

Bernie Sanders’s primary run had a lot of people predicting, and hoping for, a left-wing Democratic realignment. At times, Hillary Clinton has tried to take advantage of that hope, selling the idea that really, she wants what Bernie supporters want — she’ll just be better at implementing it.

But with an avalanche of national conservative figureheads flocking to Hillary Clinton — former Reagan aide Donald Elmets, billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Dallas Maverick's owner Mark Cuban to name a few — the great Democratic realignment might run in the other direction.

While none of these figureheads have actually changed their party affiliation, they’re sending a powerful message to young conservatives with political ambitions. They’re validating, and creating a national voice, for the Patrick Murphy route, a route that on a district-by-district basis has a lot of power to shift Democratic policy rightward and bring the party ever closer to corporate control. And with Clintonites still firmly at the helm, there will be no institutional resistance to this drift — in fact, they’ll salivate over the chance to recruit more red-state-friendly Murphys.

Meanwhile, the labor movement, through their inability to unify around Sanders during the primary, has already signaled that whatever happens, they’re along for the ride.

This poses a dilemma to a socialist left that’s only just come to prominence in the wake of Sanders and is trying to figure out how to relate to the Democratic Party now that it has a tiny bit of power.

Contra Harold Myerson, left realignment is not the “reality based” option. Sanders’s campaign demonstrated the power of using a Democratic platform to disseminate left-wing ideas and cohere a scattered left. It reflected the reality that overwhelmingly, the average person’s political experience is filtered through electoralism, and that the Left’s ability to reach those people depends in part on maintaining an electoral presence. But it did not demonstrate the feasibility of reforming the Democratic Party.

Not all of the Bernie or Busters who had the gall to boo (boo!) the DNC’s glitterati were convinced of the first two points. But they were convinced of the third, and they weren’t wrong. And they showcased an independent and uncompromising approach that socialists should cultivate and focus, not dismiss.

Because of the intractable two-party system, socialists will have to keep using Democratic platforms and running in Democratic races in order to influence the electorate and win power, but they shouldn’t do so with the intention of reforming the party. For this reason they’ll need both Bernie and Busters and people organizing in labor, in Black Lives Matter, and in the community in order to build up organizations of popular power independent from the election cycle, and to keep third-party power in their long-term vision.

Our job is to win both realignment cheerleaders and Bernie and Busters to this vision.

Elizabeth (Ella) Mahony is a member of the Brooklyn Democratic Socialists of America and the Left Caucus.


Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. DSA’s perspective on the 2016 elections can be found here. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

 

Grassroots Fundraising: Paying for the Revolution (9pm Eastern)

June 23, 2017
· 46 rsvps

Are you new to socialist organizing? Or after many years do you still struggle, raising money from members when you need it but without a steady flow of income or budget to plan ahead? Are you afraid to tackle fundraising because it seems so daunting or you are uncomfortable asking people for money?

In this webinar, you will learn why fundraising is organizing, and how to do it – face to face, through fundraising events, and other ideas.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

Instructor:

  • Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

Training Details:

  1. Workshops are free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have preferably headphones or else speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt talt@igc.org.
  5. If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt schmittaj@gmail.com 608-355-6568.
  6. Participation requires that you register at least 21 hours in advance -- by midnight Thursday for Friday's webinar.

NOTE: This training is scheduled for 9:00pm Eastern Time (8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6pm Pacific, 5 pm Alaska, 3 pm Hawaii).

Data Security for DSA Members

June 27, 2017

Ack! I googled myself and didn't like what I found!

WHAT: A DSA Webinar about "Doxing"
WHEN: 9PM EST, 6PM PST

We're proud of our organizing, and chapter work is transparent for both political and practical reasons. However, there are basic precautions you can take in this time of rapid DSA growth to protect your privacy.

Key Wiki is a website that meticulously documents DSA activity and posts it for the world to see. If you're an active DSA member, likely your name is on their website. This is an example of "doxing".

As DSA becomes larger, more visible, and more powerful, we might expect that more websites like this will pop up, and more of our members' information might be posted publicly on the web.

Join a live webinar on Tuesday, June 27 with data security expert Alison Macrina, to learn:

  1. what is doxing? with examples and ways to prevent it
  2. how to keep your passwords strong and your data secure
  3. where to find your personal info on the internet and how to get it removed
  4. social media best practices for DSA organizers
  5. what to do if you've already been doxed

Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/9173276528

Call-in Info: +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 917 327 6528

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 8 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.