…to newly elected Pennsylvania State Committeemember Chris Bowers
. Chris' decision to engage with the organized Democratic Party as an elected Party official, first at the ward level and now on the State Committee, is distinctive, if not unique, among the leading national bloggers. He's not only to be congratulated for his victory, but commended, for his example.
I'm cautious about some of the lessons he finds in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, though. For instance, he cites a candidate, Anne Dicker, whom he lauds for a second place finish in a three way race. Dicker finished ahead of a candidate who had apparently wrapped up significant institutional backing. That's fine enough, I suppose, but the candidate who actually won seems to have lacked those institutional resources, too. I'd like to learn more about the actual winner, because those are usually the best campaigns to learn from
, but Chris takes this away from the results...
The party lost to both labor and the netroots. All the money in the world, and all the establishment support in the world, is officially good for last place. Change or become irrelevant.
That's a pretty broad judgment to draw from a single race, but there is a grain of truth within it. It's certainly true that you don't need all the money in the world, or even the most money in a field of candidates, to win an election. You do need enough, and Dicker seems to have fallen short on that score, but you don't need it all.
There's really no way, though, for the Democratic Party to 'lose' a primary election. They have a nominee, which is the purpose of the primary. If there's any losses to be counted, it will be because the people who participated in any way on any side of the primary aren't every bit as, or more, engaged in securing the nominee's victory in November.
The Party certainly can't 'lose' an election to labor, either. Organized labor continues to be an integral part of the Democratic coalition, perhaps the
integral part. A win for labor is a Democratic win.
Lose to the 'netroots'? Well, I dunno. I hope not. I'm not exactly sure what the aim of the 'netroots' is, or what their general commitment to the Democratic Party as such might be. Of course, that's partly because I'm still uncertain what exactly the 'netroots' is. I've been a blogger for going on three years, sure, and I read dozens of 'em. A substantial part of my political activism these days is informed by the internet. On the other hand, I'm a self-confessed Party hack, and have been for going on forty years. Am I a 'netroot'? Or am I just the grassroot I've been all along? I'm hopeful that the distinction becomes increasingly irrelevant as more people follow Chris' example.
One thing I'm pretty sure of is that we don't need to promote artificial antagonisms between folks who, on election day, at least, need to be on the same side.
On a more positive note, I hope that Chris sees himself reflected in this observation…
Were it not for mavericks such as Chuck Pennacchio willing to take on long-shot campaigns, it is difficult to imagine that nearly as many new committee people would be ready to take office for Democrats tomorrow. I know I wouldn't.
Good for Chuck Pennacchio. But inspiration is like a game of tag, Chris, and you're it. I'm hopeful, no, I'm confident that your example will inspire people from coast to coast to take the first steps toward engagement with their local Party organizations. I'm confident, in fact, that in not so long a time, there will be State and National Committee members in place across the country who were initially inspired by your example. Thank you.
And Chris is right about this...
...all of the progressive and reform defeats will eventually succeed as long as the people who participated in those losses keep trying.
…because he's right about this.
Hell, that is probably how the establishment came to power in the first place.
The Party, after all, is just the people who show up, led by the ones who stick around.
Leaders like Chris Bowers (welcome to the 'establishment').
Leaders who know, as he says...
Give up easily, and be defeated easily. Never give up, and eventually you will govern.