For The Life of Me

Laura Hubka chairs the Howard County Democrats and serves on the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee. -promoted by desmoinesdem

For the life of me I do not understand why we are still fighting and arguing about what happened last election cycle. Are we children? Are we never going to admit some stark truths because it does not fit our narrative?

We sat back in 2008 and told ourselves that the Republican Party was on the way out. We sat back in 2010 and lost, and we sat back in 2012 and told ourselves that the Republicans had an “IDENTITY CRISIS” and they could not and would not realign themselves with voters. Especially those of color or any other subjugated minority group such as LGBTQ. Even though we were hemorrhaging from the underside. We lost so many seats all the way down the ticket and it continued through 2014 and 2016. But somehow the Republican Party was the one that had to do a check up?

The Democratic Party leadership at the very top were looking at polls and looking at dollar signs but NOT at the PEOPLE! Populist politics is popular and somehow they thought that the Democrats had the edge on that. EVEN though the Democrats were taking just as much money from the big banks and corporations as the Republicans. We actively sought out to run big money candidates with out a care in the world. They thought just because they had the money and spoke about “democratic” ideas that the people would just “get it”. They thought that because they had “name recognition” that they were a shoe in to win. They forgot that there is the internet and that people can look up donations and whatever else they want. They forgot that our party is not innocent. They forgot to look in the mirror.

I was right in there with them in 2008 and some of 2010. By 2012 the door knocking was changing, the messaging was off and I knew it. The party did not want to listen. Obama carried the presidency but we were in a deep slide already as far as the people were concerned.

Money is NOT the answer. Not anymore. You can shut me down and tell me to go sulk in the corner because “just don’t understand” But I’ll tell you what. I know people in leadership worked their way there and did what it took to fight in the past. I think they have lost their way by trying to be more like the Republicans because they are under some sort of illusion that that is how we will win. I feel I KNOW what I am talking about because I am down here in the trenches with the voters. Those of us down here know exactly what needs to be done and I am sick of people pretending that we have to “go along to get along”. I call BS!

I am going to fight! We need to take this state and nation back. Yes we need to make America greater than it ever has been! This is not an election cycle job, this is a job that never stops, a job that never pays and a job that causes great pain and anger in your soul. But I am here and I will fight. If it does not feel right then I am not going to do it. I know my people. My people live in Iowa and this nation. I will do what is right for my family, my state and country. I have not felt that much patriotism since I signed my enlistment papers back in 1983.

We have a fraud as president. He will do much damage. We are to blame and we better start realizing that RIGHT NOW. We are out of excuses and time. There are things we can do and first off that is teaching our candidates to win with out big money but instead donate our time, sweat and tears to REAL progressive candidates. They will win if we help them.

I plan on having monthly meetings in my town of Cresco. I am going to dedicate myself more than I ever have, which has been a lot. I am going to start DOING what we say our party does and reach out and be unafraid to show my liberalism, my progressive nature, my love of our children, education, clean water and air.

For the life of me, I hope you will be in this with me.

Maintenance Notice - As of November 14, 2023 we are still seeing issues with replying to comments...Thanks for your patience, this will be restored.

  • Best Post I've Ever Read on the Bleeding Heartland Blog

    Laura, preach!

  • Focus on money hurts the party

    Hillary outspent Trump 2 to 1 and we still lost across the ballots in Iowa because we had an anchor, not a sail, at the top of the ticket (DLC recruiting Judge to run was another disaster). Democrats can not be the party of high finance, of Wall St. donations, of corporate welfare, of tax breaks for so-called “job creators”, for big ag’s continued pollution of our water and erosion of our soil. Bernie demonstrated that money flows from the bottom up if the candidates work their campaign, their policies and their messaging with same bottom up philosophy.

    • counterpoint to that

      Our Iowa House and Senate candidates were outspent in most of the battleground districts–in some cases by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of them were very good candidates with strong roots in the district. They had knocked thousands of doors, but you can’t consistently win competitive races when you are outspent by that much across the board.

      I will grant you that money alone is no guarantee of a winning election strategy.

      • One step further--

        There are over 600k registered Democrats. That means if one in six Iowa Democrats signed up for $3/mo recurring donation to the Senate Majority Fund and/or House Truman Fund, they would raise every cycle enough to target a dozen Senate districts and closer to two dozen House districts. Also, small donors would become the largest share of the funding. It’s not just that no PAC would come close–almost no PAC would even be relevant.

        At a glance, I’d estimate they have four recurring contributors for the Senate. Four out of 600,000. One of them is a labor leader, and another’s last name is “Gronstal.”

        I don’t know that it’s actually possible to get money out of politics. Even at a state legislative level, having a manager, field person, and bare-bones mail program will run you six figures. But even if we can’t get PAC and big donor money out, we could dilute its effect into obscurity if we all* jumped in for the cost of one Starbucks a month.

        *”All” in this case means ~18% of registered Iowa Democrats. So not even that many of us.

        • that's an interesting idea

          but only a tiny fraction of people are interested enough in politics to donate to any candidates or political parties, ever. Historically, small-dollar donors may get excited about a charismatic candidate like Howard Dean or Bernie Sanders, but I am really skeptical that large numbers of people would sign up to make recurring small donations to the Iowa Democratic Party or House and Senate leadership funds. I am not aware of that model working anywhere.

        • I only wish

          That I heard more from the party – at any level – without requests for money attached. Calls for action are invariably asking for money, and its significantly less often that they ask for participation. Knocking on doors, attending meetings, making phone calls, helping in the community.That becomes even more evident during years without a presidential election, and I worry is part of why the party has grown weak in so many places.

  • Counterpoint to the counterpoint

    It might have helped those down ballot Democrats if we’d had a stronger, more populist, enthusiasm-generating Democrat like Sanders at the top of the ticket who would have been a better foil to Trump. Having a wildly unpopular Democrat like Hillary Clinton makes it hard for our party to get people to vote at all. That was evidenced by this election’s low turnout rates.

    • Plenty Popular

      Shortly before she declared, HRC had one of the highest favorable ratings of anyone on the political scene. She was net positive until halfway through primary season (um, thanks Bernie?) She won more votes than any candidate for President except for Obama 2008. We run a real risk if we let right-wing lies (or outright sexism — look at a chart of when HRC’s favorable are really high versus when they are low; the lows are when she shows any ambition, the highs are when she is simply doing her job) turn us against our own qualified candidates.

      But it certainly serves no positive purpose to eat our own at this point. It isn’t merely a candidate problem when Dems have been losing US House seats for years, losing state legislatures and governorships for years, and when down ballot candidates of all stripes (i.e. Feingold, to her left) underperformed her. Saying she is a bad candidate takes our eyes off of the more structural problems that won’t be solved just because HRC won’t be running again.

      • Don't blame Bernie


        This usually comes as a surprise to many HIllary supporters, but it was not “her turn” nor was she entitled to the nomination without a Primary opponent. As a candidate himself, Bernie was not under any obligation to ensure that Hillary would win the nomination or the presidency. He was in it to win it and so were his supporters.

        Further, in poll after poll throughout the Primary season, Hillary polled roughly even with Donald Trump while Bernie Sanders crushed Trump in the same polls. He drew hundreds of thousands of excited, energized people to his rallies while Hillary’s rallies were lackluster at best. The writing was on the wall, Bernie was obviously the better choice and most likely to win in November, yet the Democratic Party established went all out to take him down.

        While the Party bears much responsibility for the November loss by their own corrupt behavior, the one most responsible for losing to Trump was Hillary herself.

        Would you have ever imagined a Democratic presidential candidate partnering with a Republican operative (David Brock) to attack her own Party?? Of course not – that would be political suicide, right? Well, Hello… That is exactly what she did. Can you imagine a Democratic presidential candidate playing name-association to link her Democratic primary candidate to murdered children, and then telling him to apologize to their parents?? Or a candidate convincing a respected Civil Rights icon to lie about her opponent’s participation in the Civil Rights movement? Those are tactics stright from the playbooks of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove and, I think, it disgusted many traditional liberals and progressives (That’s not how we roll).

        We learned from the Obama presidency that you don’t win and you don’t move your ideas down the playing field by putting on the opposing team’s jerseys and pretending to be them… and that’s what she attempted to do.

        Ultimately, when true Democrats (in the mold of FDR) have regained control of the Party from the Third-Way centrists and the talking heads have moved on to other nonsense, her campaign will go down in history as the one of the worst in recent history and the best example of what not to do.

    • Exactly

      Well said

  • What the Future Could Be

    We had a glimpse in 2016 of what the future could be under (true, progressive) Democratic control when hundreds of thousands of Americans turned out at rallies to hear Bernie Sanders speak.

    Sane, informed Americans still love the Democratic ideas espoused by FDR and today, by people like Bernie Sanders and Nina Turner.

    And yet, even though he was clearly the most popular candidate on the trail (nationwide), the Democratic Party pulled out the Lee Atwater-Karl Rove book of dirty tricks and did all it could to crush him and demoralize his supporters. (Hillary consistently polled about even with Donald Trump while Bernie Sanders destroyed Trump in nearly every poll).

    Barack Obama spent 8 years giving gifts to the Republican Party only to be kicked in the face every single day. Americans did not elect him to give way to the GOP. by 2008, the GOP had let terrorists kill 3,000 people on our soil, invaded a country which had nothing to do with the 911 attacks, and got 4,000 American troops killed over there, and called off the search for Bin Laden and, for their grand finale, destroyed the US economy and brought on a global recession which is still reverberating today.

    Democrats had to sit by and watch as the President broke promise after promise: Refusing to hold Wall Street and its execs accountable (indeed, letting them use government tax dollars to pay themselves billions of dollars in salaries and bonuses), let the GOP basically poison the ACA legislation leaving 30 million Americans without health insurance, continue America’s longest wars (which he had vowed to end and, as of now, are approaching the fifteen year mark), perpetuated the Bush tax cuts, signed off on a Budget Sequester which has devastated our poor, working poor, and lower middle-class, tried to push through a disastrous trade deal, did little to fight the Republican blockage of his Supreme Court nominee, and basically kept silent while Republicans were doing everything from disenfranchising tens of millions of voters to attacking abortion rights. Centrism and Third-Wayism has totally, utterly failed.

    Yet after all of that, our Party tried to force us to accept a candidate who flat out refused to release the details of her multiple $225,000-a-pop speeches to Wall Street and who refused to hold press conferences or even take questions from the press. And she was basically shaping up to be Obama on steroids – more giveaways to Wall Street, growing wealth and income disparity and worst of all, the likelihood of escalating wars and military presence in the Middle East.

    This candidate partnered with a Republican operative (David Brock who had successfully assassinated Anita Hill’s character during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings) to attack the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party! Yes! To attack her own Party! Brilliant, huh? Oh but wait, it gets better. She went on to link her Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders to murdered Sandy Hook children and told him to “apologize” to their parents. She somehow convinced a Civil Rights legend to lie about Bernie’s participation in the Civil Rights movement and about Clinton’s (aka Goldwater Girl) supposed involvement in the movement, and sent her own daughter out to lie about Bernie’s positions on health care. Her mantra throughout the Primary season was a resounding “Oh no we can’t!” in response to Bernie’s message that, as a people, we can restore liberalism in this country and save the Middle-class.

    Yet our Party and bought-and-paid-for MSM talking heads tried to convince us that she was the more electable, the more popular, and more universally loved candidate. When that message clearly failed, their fall-back position was, “Well you either vote for Hillary or you’ll get Trump.” Really? How about this for a campaign slogan” “Vote for Hillary because she’s the lesser of two evils!” Yeah! Now are you exited about her candidacy???!!

    So in the end, Democrats have taken kicks to the gut not only from Republicans but from our Party.

    And, Ms Hubka stated, we have to get involved. But I don’t think people-power alone will be enough. We need the backing of a national Party. For a generation now, the Democratic Party establishment at national, state, and local levels has totally ignored local and state elections while Republicans slowly took over school boards, judgeships, city councils. If we are to be successful, in regaining control from the wingnuts, we have to either build up a new, liberal, independent Party or else purge the Democratic Party of corrupted leaders and officials and remake it to reflect true liberal, Democratic values.