‘The Front Page’

An answer for Aaron

by , posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2020 at 6:31 pm

Cousin Aaron is a hoot. Pretty much every day he posts something on Facebook that makes me smile. Today, however, he posed a more serious question to his Facebook friends.

This was my answer for Aaron:

At the risk of taking your question too seriously, here goes … I am a political historian by training and I’ve been politically active for a good 45 years now, and I think Biden is the worst nominee the Democratic Party has put forth since at least before FDR. And I detest Pelosi, Schumer, and the entire Democratic establishment, too. But from their left, not their right. So, as bad as I think Biden & Co. are, I think Trump is worse. If I lived in a swing state where there was a risk that Trump might grab the electoral votes, I’d hold my nose and vote for Biden as the lesser evil. But I don’t live in a swing state, so I’m free to make a principled vote for what I believe in, not caring that my candidate won’t win, because, given the reality that either Trump or Biden will win, this election is already lost as far as I’m concerned. There is no winning with such a choice, only damage control.

And for me, damage control means doing as little as possible to strengthen Biden’s hand, and those like him within the Democratic Party, even though I want Trump voted out. The reason why I try to thread such a needle is because I think the only reason someone like Trump gets elected in the first place is because the faction of the Democratic Party that has been in charge for the last forty years or so has so abandoned and alienated the working people of this country that many of them had long since concluded that that type of Democrat had nothing to offer them but the same old b.s. that had already failed them, and so, if they hadn’t given up on politics altogether by then, they had become desperate enough to buy into Trump’s con job. So, while I want to see Trump lose, I believe that the only hope we have for things to change for the better in the future is for the Democratic elites who are in the pockets of Wall Street, and all the hacks and grifters who are their enablers, to be driven out of power within the party, so that the Democratic Party can begin to represent the interests of the folks on Main Street once again, instead of taking them for granted. I know that isn’t going to happen in 2020, but I just want this election to be over so I can put my shoulder to the wheel again, trying to help clean up the mess that is today’s Democratic Party.


The enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend

by , posted on Saturday, April 25th, 2020 at 2:50 pm

The Democratic establishment is not composed of democrats, it’s made up of elites who, not unlike our “Founders” were, are opposed to an excess of democracy (which the so-called Founders considered to be as big a threat as monarchy). And U.S. political history has been a never-ending contest between the forces of reform who have sought to democratize our republic — the anti-slavery movement, the women;s rights movement, the labor movement, the civil rights movement, etc., — vs. those who defended the status quo or, worse, sought to roll back progress whenever it was made.

The Democratic Party was once the party of those democratizing impulses, but that hasn’t been true for a good forty years or more now. Trump must be defeated, but our problems didn’t begin with Trump’s ascension to power and they won’t end with his defeat. The removal from power of the not-particularly-democratic Democratic establishment is also a necessary condition for progress, if not for survival of the species itself, every bit as much as the defeat of even greater evils farther to the right are, and that’s why we have to remember that even when we share a common goal, like defeating Trump, with the Democratic establishment and it’s enablers, the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend, and the path we take in hopes of reaching that common destination, the strategic and tactical choices we make that frustrte and anger establishment Dems and their loyal followers, will necessarily differ from that of our intraparty rivals.

cross-posted from Facebook


The landscape of what we think is possible

by , posted on Friday, January 4th, 2019 at 6:32 pm

When you are in the minority, and you can’t legislate, you concentrate on messaging. And progressives are in the minority in the House Democratic Caucus. They shouldn’t be looking for a seat at the table alongside the leadership; they should be focused on supporting the candidacies of movement-oriented progressives everywhere they can, so that they can increase the leverage they have when sitting across the table from the leadership, until one day they have the votes in the Democratic Caucus to win the leadership themselves. They should be paying their dues to Progressive Caucus PAC, Justice Democrats PAC, PCCC PAC, not the damn DCCC, where their money will be given disproportionately to candidates who will vote against them in the Democratic Caucus. And, in the meantime, within the House, as long as they don’t have the numbers to force the issue(s), “shaping the landscape of what we think is possible,” as AOC puts it here, is EXACTLY what they should be doing.

I’m with her.

Cross-posted from Facebook


The First Thing

by , posted on Tuesday, January 1st, 2019 at 1:00 am

It has been all but impossible to read anything written about Lauren Underwood since she won election to Congress from IL-14 in November that doesn’t point out that she is the first woman, and first minority, to represent her district.

Which is true. She is.

But it is also not entirely true.

It all depends on how you read, or write, one of those “firsts.”

For example, I used to live in IL-14. I lived on Aurora’s east side for a year or so, I lived on Aurora’s west side for another four years, and then Boulder Hill after that. And if I was still living in IL-14 it would not be true that Lauren Underwood was the first woman representing me in Congress. That’s because I had a woman representing me in Congress the entire time I lived in Aurora. Her name was Charlotte Reid.



What’s the anti-Pelosi endgame?

by , posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2018 at 1:46 pm

So, there’s this question a lot of us are asking ourselves: Why is Bill Foster doing this? Why are any of them doing this? What’s the endgame? I finally began to think I could see the logic, if you want to call it that, when I read something at CNN.com.

Clearly, the strategy has never been to challenge Pelosi in the Democratic Caucus. It’s to hold the line against her getting 218 on the floor, in hopes of creating a stalemate that ultimately forces Pelosi to withdraw from consideration, creating the possibility of a compromise candidate being put forth to end the crisis. But who? Steny? Maybe. He gets them where they want to go ideologically, which is to the right. But this little detail caught my Illinois-centric eye:

“‘It doesn’t seem like there’s an alternative as part of their strategy,’ said Rep. Cheri Bustos, an Illinois Democrat, who acknowledged that some Pelosi critics reached out to her to urge her to consider running for speaker.”


This is why we can’t have nice things

by , posted on Monday, November 19th, 2018 at 10:46 pm

Instead of mounting a progressive challenge to corporate Democrat Steny Hoyer as Majority Leader, Congressional Progressive Caucus Vice Chairs Ruben Gallego, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jamie Raskin, Jan Schakowsky, and Mark Takano, and rank-and-file CPC members Alma Adams, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Don Beyer, Lisa Blunt Rochester, André Carson, Judy Chu, Katherine Clark, Wm. Lacy Clay, Steve Cohen, Elijah Cummings, Danny Davis, Rosa DeLauro, Mark DeSaulnier, Debbie Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Lois Frankel, Jimmy Gomez, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Joe Kennedy III, Brenda Lawrence, John Lewis, Ted Lieu, Dave Loebsack, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn Maloney, Jim McGovern, Gwen Moore, Jerry Nadler, Grace Napolitano, Donald Norcross, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Frank Pallone, Lucille Roybal-Allard, José Serrano, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Jackie Speier, Nydia Velázquez, Maxine Waters, Peter Welch, Frederica Wilson and John Yarmuth all signed a “Dear Colleague” letter [.pdf] on November 13th endorsing Hoyer, who is unopposed, for Majority Leader.

I wonder how many of them supported Levi Tillemann‘s campaign.


In Lafayette Square

by , posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2018 at 9:54 pm

I work about four blocks from the White House, so I decided to make my way over to Lafayette Square before heading home to see if people were gathering there. Walking into the park around 6:30pm from Pennsylvania Avenue, I didn’t hear much at first, but then I realized there was a crowd of people over on the west side listening to a speaker. It was dark, so I couldn’t tell how many people were there, but I’m guessing it had to be several hundred. Maybe more.

The last time I was in the park like that was as the Gulf War was about to break out. I remember going over for a few nights and just standing there, staring across the street at Bush 41’s White House, standing vigil, I guess, with other protesters while somebody pounded on a drum.

I can’t help but think there are more nights in Lafayette Square to come.

Crossposted from Facebook


Guethle. Yes, Again. And Again, and Again…

by , posted on Sunday, March 18th, 2018 at 11:01 am

Not long ago I wrote this post about Guethle’s smear mailer against Pete Janko, his opponent in the 14th Democratic State Central Committeeman race. But the mailer was just the opening volley in what is turning out to be a comprehensive – and expensive – arm of Mike Madigan’s campaign to hold on to power at all costs.

That smear mailer was quickly followed by this letter:

And then things went multi-media.


Guethle’s Glass House

by , posted on Friday, March 2nd, 2018 at 2:01 pm

As we are approaching this primary – one that most people agree is leading up to an historic wave election – I want to spend some time thinking about what it means to build the Democratic Party locally, how to recruit candidates, how to increase involvement, how to actually get and keep people enthused and engaged and out there going door to door, and perhaps most importantly, how to build a bench. I want to talk about how Kane County Democratic Chairman Mark Guethle is doing that job.

And I want to start by taking a tour of the career of a local Republican. Bear with me, and I think you will find the trip illuminating.


The Brolley Question

by , posted on Thursday, March 1st, 2018 at 6:01 am

Last year, early in the cycle, the Progressive Fox‘s Downtowner told of receiving two pieces of information about then-prospective IL-14 candidate Matt Brolley—that he was not a resident of the district and that he had pulled a Republican, not Democratic, ballot in three out of the last four primaries—and then she offered her own take on that news. Reasonable minds could have differed regarding the importance of those two pieces of information, but it would have been hard to deny that the news was relevant information, that it was not widely known, and that some would find it to be of interest as they attempted to educate themselves regarding the evolving choices before them in IL-14.

And yet, the post—not the information about Brolley contained in it, but the very exercise of communicating that information and presuming to offer an opinion about it—was considered unreasonable by some. In particular, a cluster of negative reactions from a handful of Kendall County Democrats when I shared the post on Facebook caught my attention. Kendall County is where I’m from, it’s where my political roots are the deepest, and I found myself giving a lot of thought to what those Kendall Dems had to say.