The state senate district where I’m the DFL chair happens to be deep blue, not one where we have to worry much about holding on to our legislative seats. However, as our incumbent legislators remind local DFLers, they can’t get much done when they’re in the minority. Even their seniority and designation by their caucus as a committee ranking member won’t stop vindictive Republicans from kicking them off said committee. So our safe-seat legislators need more DFLers to win in not-safe seats, which gets to why our district did some message testing when it would appear we really don’t have to — and maybe, doing the minimum, we don’t have to. But we want to win; as in a majority of seats, not just the easy-to-get majority of the votes in our district.
Now when I say “message testing”, I don’t mean some proper bit of research your political science professor would have approved of. We don’t have those sorts of resources, at least with other things we have to do. But we can still do something. We can’t pretend what we did is strong research we could get published in a proper political science journal. But we think we have something useful.
Specifically, we have two issues where we did some testing, one intended for offense and one for defense: the offense being automatic voter registration, and the defense being paying for transportation infrastructure. The forum was the tables we set up at neighborhood events in our district as we do each summer and autumn. Usually we have a passel of candidates to talk about, but most of our district, ironically enough given my plea to pay attention to local elections this year, had no elections, and it happened that was the part of the district with neighborhood events where we could set up. Normally our top priority at these events is voter registration, and next trying to strike up conversations so we can find out what prospective voters are thinking about. If anyone wants some jargon, this is sometimes referred to as an “untargeted canvas”. Generally of course, most people are already registered (though some aren’t, and they would not have shown up in a list of registered voters) and they don’t have an issue to comes to mind right at that moment, so we took advantage of having no candidates to test reaction to messages on those two issues. We had flyers on each issue (which we’re willing to share with other party units) but no one sees those right away, so we’re bringing up whichever issue we bring up and flyers are details and follow-up. Basically it’s verbal communication combined with paper they can take with them.
The next GOP presidential debate starts tonight at 8PM central time. Yes, once again I’m skipping the “undercard” debate because it just doesn’t matter. This debate is on Fox Business, which will be the first time that channel has been watched by pretty much anyone. Fox Business: because the Wall Street shills on CNBC just aren’t conservative enough! So I’ll be simultaneously noting what the candidates say, doing some instant fact checking (no time for linking, so your own fact checking of my fact checking is advised), and maybe even providing some instant yet clever commentary.
So click the “read more” link if you’re reading this on the home page, and hit your browser reload button once in a while. Feel free to comment, but do understand that I may not have time to get it posted right away. Please excuse me if I miss something visual, because my eyes are on the editing page, which means essentially the debate is radio for me.
When Bernie Sanders was asked about the bizarre things Ben Carson said in the past, he said it wasn’t fair to hold candidates accountable for what they said decades ago. I would agree with him if he were speaking just generally. We shouldn’t be held accountable for something we said decades ago as if we were prevaricating flip-floppers just because we now say something different. We change our minds on some things over time, and would we want a candidate incapable of that? Likewise, we all make factual errors. Possibly we all not only make factual errors, but at some point believe something nuts, which is embarrassing once we figure it out. We all have some time when we behaved badly, and our worst moment back whenever shouldn’t define us.
So looking at Carson’s claim that the Egyptian pyramids were built by Joseph as granaries, if that’s all it was, a factual error, a belief he no longer holds, a bad moment that happened to get recorded on video, then Bernie would be right. We should, were that the case, just move on to current issues and forget a speech 17 years ago — but that’s not what happened. It could have been what happened, if Carson, asked about it now, had said something like he wasn’t an egyptologist but should have known better as an educated person, or now he knows better and is a bit embarrassed about it. However, he said he still believes it. That’s different. That changes it from something he said 17 years ago to something he says now. Thus why I disagree with Bernie. This is completely fair game in terms of judging Carson as a prospective president.
What does one crazy belief have to do with being president? Nothing, were it only one isolated weird belief, one mistake that wasn’t repeated. However, it’s part of a pattern that has persisted right up until now. Carson says a lot of weird stuff, now, not only in decades past. What he’s said about Obamacare being worse than slavery, Jews being able to fend off the Nazis if only they’d had more guns, and prison inmates turning gay after being raped all happened recently. That first instance might be mere hyperboly, the second is a common belief on the gun nut right despite its easy debunking, and the third is maybe just unskeptical ignorance, but how to explain away the pyramids claim? And also throwing in the opinion that scientists can be ignored on what the pyramids were built for because some believe aliens built them? Either he’s thinking of the archaeologist character in “Stargate” under the misapprehension it was a documentary, or he keeps giving the impression he disconnected from reality.
There was an odd moment during the last Republican debate. Just one? Well, this one was mostly missed, though it jumped out to me. John Kasich said, “I was on Morning Joe at a town hall, and a young student stood up and said, ‘Can I still be idealistic?'” It was odd because, first, does any real person talk like that? Maybe so, but the second oddity is Kasich trying to appeal to young voters, because that hasn’t exactly been his strength lately.
During a recent town hall at the University of Richmond, Kasich had students behind him where they could appear on camera, but getting him to take a student’s question was evidently a lower priority. When finally he called on a student, before she could ask her question, he decided to anticipate her question by saying “I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift concert tickets.” Sure, because what else might a young adult be interested in? No need to take my word for it that she felt patronized. Take hers.
The older members of the audience chuckled as my friends’ jaws dropped to the floor. It was astonishingly clear that Gov. Kasich did not come to Richmond for my vote.
While the lectures were condescending, the real issue was that Kasich chose not to listen to students in his forum. Most of the questions came from older members of the community, many vocalizing their support of Kasich before throwing him a softball question. Kasich barreled through a Planned Parenthood question, dismissing the young woman who posed it, and derided me when I had the audacity to raise my hand. Kasich came to Richmond to pander to retired Republicans. He could gain points by belittling me and my peers, so that’s what he did.
What continues to strike me is the hypocrisy of his condescension. He touted his ambitious energy as an 18-year-old man, but as soon as I, an 18-year-old woman, exhibited ambition, I became the target of his joke. The same passion that drove Kasich to speak with President Nixon drove me to ask the candidate a question I care deeply about.
This is the candidate touting that a student asked him a question about idealism? The reason Kasich would say that in the debate is obvious. He’s trying to signal to Republicans that he can address their problem with younger voters because they respond to him. Well, looks like “respond” can be negative as well as positive.
UPDATE: Fox cut out early.
I watched much of today’s testimony by Hillary Clinton in front of the House select committee on Benghazi, and I tuned into Fox News’ coverage because it’s important to hear what the other said is saying, and respect the legitimate points they’re making because … there’s not one of you reading this who believes that. OK, I wanted to see how the spinners of the Republican bubble would respond to finally having their long dreamt of day of getting to grill Hillary, only to watch their years of pumping Benghazi disinformation melt in a mouldering mess of conservative conspiracy theory tears with a warning sign saying “never believe you own propaganda”. Remember Mitt Romney’s Obama-won’t-say-“terrorism” moment? I’m guessing the GOP doesn’t remember, because they gave us about 10 hours of such moments.
In the early afternoon recess Fox wanted to talk about anything else but the hearing. Given that this was pretty much the news today and the subject could no longer be avoided, at the second recess they actually tried saying this hearing they cried for day after day for so long didn’t really matter, because Hillary is under FBI investigation and that’s her real problem. Pardon the spoiler, but she isn’t under FBI investigation. In the evening they got down to it. By “it”, I mean repeating the same debunked falsehoods they’ve been feeding their credulous audience for three years.
Perhaps you were disturbed by an odd rising laughter today. That was the sound of Democrats cautiously chuckling early as Republicans seemed to have little beyond repeating their old talking points, which laughter grew as with the realization Hillary gave the GOP a nice gift of the proverbial “enough rope”, mixed with some irritation they were keeping her there to the point of exhaustion, finally ending with the political equivalent of a blue screen of death as Trey Gowdy, sweating so profusely that he must have been painfully aware of the self-inflicted wound the country was watching bleed, at last ended the Whitewater hearing. Oops, I meant the Benghazi hearing. Totally different.
No, I didn’t plan to publish this a year from now and get the date setting wrong. Most of us actually do have an election coming up. This year. In just over a couple weeks in fact. Nov. 3rd is actually an election day, the off-year election, except I hate and wish to banish that phrase “off-year” as there is no such thing — even for those of us who actually don’t have an election, there are things to be done. Call it an odd-numbered year, and then consider something more odd: that we have to plead with frequent-voting Democrats to vote.
Normally I wouldn’t be asking the readers of a liberal blog just to vote. Delay that. In an even-numbered year, I would’t be asking readers here to vote because voting could be safely assumed, and the appeals would be to get down to your local campaign office and help knock on doors, or something else useful. Not that I’m not making such an appeal, but the fact is when it comes to local elections, Democrats have a tendency to skip them. It’s anecdotal, but I’ve heard people who never miss a midterm say they just don’t care about city council or whatever is up this time. The terrible levels of voter turnout in odd-numbered years (for present purposes, I’m including even-numbered year elections that happen in odd months) suggest that the anecdotes are right. A lot of Democrats just don’t care.