Thanks for this guest commentary. My post on what happened at the Polk County Democratic convention is in progress. -promoted by desmoinesdem
Of course we don’t believe in kings, but it’s a simple way of trying to explain why the Polk County Democratic Convention yesterday was 12 hours long and threatened physical confrontations. Most of what I’m writing is from a Sanders campaign point-of-view, which views itself as somewhat insurgent against a Democratic Party which is established and organized.
A movement to change politics as it is makes its supporters enthusiastic, hopeful, sensitive, suspicious, if not more-than-a-little paranoid. Bernie Sanders, since his speeches in Iowa starting in the summer of 2014, has been fully engaged with a language and mindset that common people are excluded from politics, and as a result, from being able to improve their lives through fair government. The party best-suited by position and dogma to effect that change is the Democratic Party – which is a problem, because Senator Sanders, like many of his supporters, aren’t what would be considered loyal Democrats by the Democratic Party.
I can’t speak for all of the Sanders’ supporters, but I consider myself a loyal liberal first, Democrat by virtue of the political environment second. We are, by-and-large, deeply unhappy with Neoliberalism and a Party that embraced some conservative ideas to the detriment of it’s base and to the people of the country they claim to represent.
The Party, OTOH, doesn’t understand why these people don’t understand the sacrifices and compromises it’s had to make to keep the country running, particularly since the other half of the duplex increasingly keeps trying to either stab them in the back every time they talk & their roommates keep trying to set fire to the building.
So we’re not building a relationship with a solid foundation off the bat.
Sanders’ supporters aren’t idiots and have witnessed and participated in the Iowa citizen democracy before, but they’re inexperienced. They’re hot-headed because they’ve got the vision, and they’re mad because of the reasons stated earlier. They’ve been to maybe a couple of caucuses, but don’t remember as much as they thought they did. We’ve got ideas, man.
Clinton’s long-time party supporters are wary of these ‘new’ people. There’s lots of new people, excited and motivated supporting Sec. Clinton, but the Party regulars are more or less in charge. They can manage to herd those cats. But between the history of the VRWC against Clinton, and the general vicious disparagement of Democrats in general, they’re not very accepting of criticism from people they’ve never seen or only marginally know from a few events. The Democrats are dependent on a vision of a life-long loyal Democrat, someone brought up in the fold, used and educated to the fine arts of politicking and (uh oh) compromise. Dealing with a bunch of new people that look at them suspiciously may be a bridge too far.
Now add razor-thin statistical results built on odd maths, paperwork and seemingly byzantine rules and resolutions. Party answers that sometimes were patronizing or condescending. Paranoia & rumor went unchecked in the preference groups. It’s no wonder that post-caucus night debate and now the Party convention were shitshows of bad attitudes and hurt feelings.
The problem is no one’s gone out of their way to foster trust. The Iowa Democratic Party has been welcoming, wants to form a bond and bring these new people into the tent, but a relationship of trust and leadership is a different matter. With all due respect, sending out Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad to bond with the audience isn’t going to be enough. You have to have thoroughly trained precinct volunteers. You have to be so transparent that you almost have to disappear. You have to put everything out there even if you feel redundantly naked and exposed. You’re going to have to put up with some little assholes biting your exposed butt and deal with them fairly. And last, you have to scout the newbies and see whom has got some leadership, but you can’t do like you used to, by asking how many doors have they knocked and how many envelopes they’ve stuffed.
Sanders’ supporters have to get a hold of themselves and work the better angels of their natures – and yes, that includes getting a handle on some of the people in their preference group and either sidelining or inviting them to leave. It means keeping the focus on not the what the Party or the Hillary Campaign is doing This Time, but keeping your eyes on the real opposition – no more wild speeches from the podium or floor. Keep the lines of communication with the Party open and keep communicating, even when you feel like they’re being inattentive, dismissive, or secretive. Try and meet the Hillary campaign’s leaders and also learn who they are.
This is growing the Tent. This is accepting the Tent. It’s messy, hurtful, difficult, repetitive, and never ending. But it’s also worth it. Eyes on the prize, folks.