Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Sanders to Iowa, Local Meeting

Wishful thinking usually comes to nothing in electoral politics. The landscape is littered with the bones of "draft" movements. I mean actual draft movements, not faux "grassroots" efforts that are de facto campaign structures like Ready For Hillary.

The wishful thoughts of the left end of the Democratic Party are turning away from a reluctant Elizabeth Warren to Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The rumpled, cantankerous outsider feels like a perfect fit for a certain niche of Democrat.

And unlike some people, Sanders is actually willing to set foot in Iowa. He'll be headlining an Iowa fundraiser on May 17. (Unfortunately, a schedule conflict with our county Hall of Fame event.)

As the pundits say, no politician ever goes to Iowa by accident. We even got a caucus date this week: Monday, February 1, 2016, still first. Although the reality of cheater states breaking the rules likely means Monday, January 4 instead. I bet the beret.

So far, with No Show Hillary an overwhelming favorite, things look dull. But some locals are holding a Draft Sanders meeting tomorrow night at 7 at the Iowa City Public Library. I'm curious but likely won't show up, more for personal reasons than political.

The ringleader looks to be history professor Jeff Cox, who chaired the Johnson County Dems in the mid 80s. These days his only involvement with the party proper is stuff like this; he's an inevitable fixture in whatever effort is most left at caucus time, such as Dennis Kucinich or the 2012 uncommitted effort. Jeff's the guy who gave me my gangsta rap nickname "the assassin of hope" when we debated the justice center in the fall of 2012.

(The real source of our tension: Cox went down with the ship for former auditor Tom Slockett. We had a strong conversation on the subject just before the cameras rolled in that debate. Poor Yale Cohn raised the subject without knowing. If you rewatch it knowing that, you can just feel the love.)

The left of the left in Johnson County these days doesn't seem able to grasp the concept that people can agree with them on some things and disagree on others. They also have an unfortunate tendency to make their attacks personal. (Which is part of what's had me writer's blocked this week.) At the moment I'm considered an "establishment tool" who's "carrying dirty water" because I'm backing Janet Lyness, so I suspect I'd be hounded out of the room rather than accepted on my own terms.

But worth noting: a drive earlier this week down the major north-south street where Cox and spouse law professor Lois Cox live shows no Zimmerman sign in the yard...

Tangent: I see John Zimmerman trying to score political points on the kid who had magic brownies mailed to Burge. Fact check: It doesn't matter who the county attorney is, that kid gets arrested. The University is working under federal zero tolerance policies. If they don't arrest the guy they're risking federal funding for the whole school. Doesn't matter how loudly a county attorney candidate says "I won't prosecute," the arrest still happens. And with a no-prosecute local policy, it likely goes to FEDERAL court especially with the postal service involved.

This is a bad law that should be changed, cc: Congressman Loebsack, Senator Grassley, Senator Braley, but a county attorney can't change it. Sure, Eric Holder is making pot a low priority. But you can't promise that Jeb Bush's attorney general will let it slide. Hell, you can't promise that Hillary Clinton's attorney general will let it slide.

Which inadvertently gets me back to the point about the caucuses. None of my local critique is in any any way Senator Sanders' fault. A lot of us "establishment tools" (in what possible universe am I "the establishment?!?") are very, VERY interested in an alternative to nomination by coronation. But coalitions need to be broad based and people need to feel welcome.

There's also a slight problem that is Sanders' responsibility: he's not a Democrat. He aligns with the Senate Democrats. Democrats in Vermont support him. Sanders even reluctantly let his name get put on the Democratic primary ballot when he first ran for the Senate in 2006. He won the nomination overwhelmingly, then declined it, and the Democrats didn't replace him. This was just to keep a Some Dude from claiming the nomination and splitting votes.

But he's not a Democrat. He calls himself a socialist, which is fine by me. He runs as an independent, which in the unique situation is OK. He's savvy enough to understand the dynamic of vote-splitting in a winner take all election. But if he's going to seek the Democratic Party nomination for president, he'll need to call himself a Democrat.

That said, this is a really, really interesting development, and I'm willing to overlook a few local disagreements if anyone wants to take it further.

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