Saturday, March 14, 2020

An Unconventional Situation and An Unconventional Brain

My initial reaction to the Iowa Democratic Party's decision to postpone county conventions hasn't been good. In part that's because locally, our local decision was pushed by the venue cancelling our site reservation before we could consider what we wanted to do on our own.
I had some negative feelings about the convention site host because of some caucus issues. (The caucus chair in that precinct made it work in a not as good site, but I still think the Iowa code section that says tax-supported facilities "shall provide the space required" means "SHALL," not "unless there's a ball game." If we ever have a caucus again, which I doubt, we need to press that point or strengthen that law.)

In part my bad reaction is because of some other pre-existing conflicts with some other people and, now that I'm out of the closet about it, because of my place on the autistic spectrum and the impractical obsessions I get as a result.
I reject advice, sometimes even good advice, if I have rejected the person. And then I can't apologize, even if I should, because I'm still mad about the initial conflict. I don't know if I can find a way to sincerely apologize to the person I privately told to 🤬 off this week without some action on their part to make good the original thing I was angry with them about. I know that's wrong of me... but that's the kind of thing I struggle with.

I feel like I was treated unfairly on something a very long time ago, and that everyone else who has done the same thing I did since then has been treated differently. The backstory:

I'm the only person in our local organization who has ever been sanctioned for not supporting a nominee. I was removed as first vice chair in 2000 for refusing to support Al Gore, even though I did not violate any formal rules by publicly endorsing a non-Democratic candidate. All I did was loudly, but privately, express my opposition.

Yet every person since then in our county party who has done what I did, or even more, has been given a pass. Yeah, that still makes me bitter. Why is it OK to refuse to support Hillary Clinton or Fred Hubbell or Terry Dahms, but not Al Gore? Why is it OK to not back the nominee unless you're Deeth? My brain needs to have a WHY and it needs to have fairness, and I react badly when I don't get that. I'm asking for the same that was asked of me, which I was unable to do, and then I resent when others who can't or won't do it don't suffer the consequences I did.

Us Bill Bradley supporters were told, in almost these words, "you lost, 🤬 you, get on board." Which was exactly the wrong way to handle me, and so was belittling the issue I had with Gore. But nowdays, we are expected to kiss up to the supporters of the losers and listen to their "demands." That may be smarter politics, but I'm still mad that I didn't get the same respect in 2000 (or, for that matter, in 2004). Which makes me less inclined to extend that same courtesy. That's not smart politics for me, but that's the struggle in my head. Holding grudges sucks but my brain can't let some of them go.

Maybe this disclosure just makes me look foolish. 

The funny thing is, I now realize that my bitter opposition to Al Gore was a case of an autistic obsession of mine outweighing practical politics. That's not to say that, if I had it to do over again, I would do something different. The PMRC was wrong and those hearings, during my college radio days, were too formative a part of my political DNA. I never got over it, and I understand my brain well enough now to know that I never will, even though time has passed the underlying issue by. All I can do is try to laugh about it.

Anyway, I am trying hard to wrap my head around this whole virus thing in my own way, and it's hard work. I understand all the facts but something about this crisis is pushing all my oppositional defiant buttons and I don't understand why which makes it more frustrating. My weird on the spectrum brain lets me accomplish some amazing things, but sometimes it's a real barrier as well. 🤯

Thursday, March 05, 2020

The End Of Persistence

Thank you to Elizabeth Warren and all her organizers, volunteers, and supporters. I was proud to caucus for her and I am proud to support Joe Biden now. Since Warren is not going to be president, I hope to see her not on the ticket or in the cabinet, but where she is: in the Senate, nudging the Biden Administration in a more progressive direction.

More important thoughts for Iowa Democrats:

It is critically important for supporters of Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigeig to attend county, district, and state conventions. Not just for national delegates (which are locked in at the CD level, even for the dropped-out candidates), but for state central committee and other important offices. (And platform, if you care about that, which I don't.)

With Biden's poor showing in Iowa, if the supporters of the dropouts abandon the conventions, the Sanders faction will take over all those critical offices. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for the Sanders faction in the Democratic Party. But it should not be a disproportionately large or loud place. I welcome anyone who is willing to join the party and follow the rules (which Sanders himself is not). 
Some of those rules are: support the nominee, the national convention is not a deliberative body or place to protest, and end your campaign when the writing is on the wall.

If everyone shows up, the Sanders faction is weaker (26% of the Iowa state convention) than it was in 2016 (roughly 1/2 of state convention). But if only Biden and Sanders state delegates show up, it's 62% Sanders.

And since most of the mainstream team-player 2016 Sanders supporters abandoned him for other candidates, the remaining core of Sanders delegates is even more likely to act out in negative ways. There are good Sanders people - but at each level of convention in 2016, the supporters got more and more hard core and more and more difficult, culminating in Jill Stein signs at the national convention. Some states chose Bernie Or Busters as presidential electors who refused to support Hillary in the Electoral in College. We can't afford that kind of stupidity. A Biden win is going to be very, very narrow.

It will be a challenge, motivating the supporters of the former candidates to spend all day at a dull convention. The new no-re-align rules make it harder. But it is absolutely essential to a united party and a successful year. We need an actual effort to make this happen.