Never underestimate the power of a laundromat. When you live wherever you happen to be sleeping that week and you work insanely long hours, you can reasonably assume that you a) won’t have time to do your own laundry, and b) even if you did, there won’t be a washing machine. Maybe you’re staying with a local supporter. If that’s the case, they’ll assure you repeatedly that late-night laundry won’t bother them. I never managed to work up the nerve to start a washer at 1AM, half because I was just too tired to stay awake long enough to put the clean laundry in the dryer, and half because I was absolutely sure that I’d probably mind if someone came to stay at my house and started my washer that late. So, the answer is wash-and-fold. Most laundromats have a rate that they charge for a pound of laundry. They don’t do underwear, but pretty much everything else can get dumped off with them one day and picked up the next, all ready to wear and smelling of dollar-store detergent. It’s best not to own anything that isn’t capable of being crumpled, chafed, and powdered, unless you happen to own a lot of dry-clean clothes. When I started my first real campaign, I was shocked that people would buy new clothes instead of doing laundry, until I realized that sometimes you just need clean underwear. I’ve probably spent as much on underwear during campaigns as I have on other clothes and shoes and makeup combined.
There was an op-ed in Newsweek yesterday in which Gordon Brown called for a globalized New Deal. He said that we needed a new Marshall Plan. This was, of course, reasonably debated in the comments field.
To begin with, you have to understand what the Marshall Plan was. It was essentially a stimulus package meant to help Europe recover from WWII. Nobody’s really sure how well it worked because there were a lot of factors contributing to the rebuilding, but we do know that by the time it was over, growth in Marshall countries had hit about 35% on average. They’d have grown anyway in the postwar recovery, but most people think the plan helped by a good few percentage points.
So. The former Prime Minister of England writes an economic piece meant to be digested by average America in the single most ubiquitous doctor’s-office magazine in the nation (except for Field and Stream, for some reason) and what is the response? Half reasoned critique, half insanity. The reasoned critique, whether or not I personally agree with it (and mostly, I didn’t) I’ll leave alone. Those are the people I want voting. I want them talking to their neighbors and friends and coworkers. But the others…
My concern is less that people think that Obama is secretly trying to undermine the country for his Chinese overlords, and more that these are the people engaged enough to read a full economic op-ed. These are the people who are paying attention, and more than that, engaging in some kind of discussion. And they’re starting with a fundamentally different set of facts than I am. They move from a discussion about infrastructure stimulus without missing a beat into EPA regulations, as though Obama created the agency. (Protip: It was Nixon. Sorry.) They talk about Marxist plans to turn the country over to China and 1000% inflation. And half the time, they have facts to bolster their claims.
Of course I think my facts are right. And they think theirs are. My concern is that it’s impossible to decide policy before you agree on the problem. If I think that the Bush tax cuts are a major cause of the debt and that less than one percent of the discretionary budget is foreign aid, and you think that the money is all being spent on foreign aid and that the tax cuts are the not-evil kind of stimulus spending, we will never come to a consensus on a solution.
I don’t like to see people refusing to use the Google a bit before they formulate their opinions. But I give them all the credit in the world for at least having thoughts on the matter! First step, engagement. Second step, research. That’s all I’m saying. I don’t ask that you know everything. I certainly don’t. And I’m routinely put in my place by people who know more about this thing or that. I just ask that you not feel personally attacked when you’re informed that the original bank bailouts were GOP policy. I’m not angry or insulting you, I’m just reminding you about the timeline; a lot of stuff happened in three years and it’s easy to confuse it, that’s all.
I talk to voters for a living. So, I hear all the complaints and misinformation. And the one thing I hear most from the left is that they just can’t understand how the country has gone so far right.
The short answer? They worked harder. Just like they pioneered direct mail and phone trees, they realized way before we did that small races lead to big ones.Decades ago, Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson and Phyllis Schlafly started pushing people to run for school board and city councils nationwide. It normalized their views, and now they’ve moved up the ranks sufficiently. It’s why moderate and even conservative Republicans are getting primaried nationwide; this is the fruit from what they started in the 80s.
Politicos in suits are fond of saying that all politics is local, but a lot of my fellow liberal staffers aren’t so fond of, well, going local. Sure, they’ll talk about community initiatives. They’ll set up gardens and volunteer projects and events. But rarely will you find a liberal activist willing to crack a Bud Light with someone living in a trailer park for a chat unless there’s press nearby. Remember when Hillary had a shot of whiskey, and we talked about how in touch she was for days? That…didn’t play so well with the people who think that Jim and Jack are the highest of the top-shelf.
We’re losing the culture war because we only have our eyes on the big prizes. We’re not willing to elect moderates to small positions, or dump the resources into them that the GOP has for decades. We don’t have the patience for it, because it means incremental gains when we prefer sweeping cultural change. And if, by some miracle, a small-town Democrat gets themselves elected sans party support, we attack them for not being liberal enough instead of encouraging them to keep moving up the ladder. The GOP elected thousands of people and moved the overall discussion rightward BECAUSE so many of them were moderately right-wing. They made sense to their friends and neighbors. Then they were cherry-picked for higher office based on ideology and lockstep values; that’s how we wound up with Cantor and West and Bachmann. And we’ll keep losing until we admit that their blueprint gets results, and start to copy it.
Today, I was told that I have a lot of energy, but that I might be a bit too fiery. The person who told me this is concerned that I might lose focus on voters. He thinks that it’s possible I’ll be caught up in the bigger pond in the state capitol. I think that’s possibly the funniest thing I’ve heard in ages, including pretty much everything Michele Bachmann says about the Founding Fathers!
Here’s why I keep going, despite the stupidity I keep running into:
No matter how ill-informed or apathetic you are, you can always become engaged. You’re not going to do that by yourself; nobody has ever spontaneously decided to look up the details of the federal budget. It’s a process. My job, the way I see it, is to translate between the wonks and the regular people. Sure, it’s great to throw around facts and figures about debt vs. GDP and cuts to block grants; people get engaged when you tell them that the new Boeing contract (the one that every branch of the military is arguing against) is the reason their kids won’t get art class this year. They become interested when you tell them that their paycheck will net a bit less next year because their bosses needed more money and Washington listened. They get interested when you explain Social Security in an accessible way. They’re waiting for someone to come along that will engage them without arguing or condescending, someone who can explain things on their level by using real-world examples that they can relate to.
I am not good with internal politics. I’m terrible with who said what about whom, who might run for what and undercut which other candidate, and who thinks that someone else is kind of dumb.
I’m good at talking to voters. I’m good at answering basic questions about ideology. I can explain just about anything to a Republican and leave them thinking that maybe I’m not crazy for being a liberal. I’m a wonk, a political junkie, whatever you want to call me. And because I have a passion for politics and history, I love sharing it with people. That’s my profession and my calling. And for every ten idiots I talk to, there’s a person who wants to know more. They’re the reason I carry on. And those people are impossible for me to forget or look past.
I’ve been absolutely slammed this week with a series of events. One of them was a two-day local fair at which I sat at a table, publicly being a Democrat. Here are some of the comments I got:
“Don’t they know that this is a Republican area?”
“You’d be a conservative if you weren’t so poor.”
“Why do you hate the troops?” (said to my USMC combat vet husband. It was beautiful.)
“Don’t you know that taxes are what’s wrong with this country?”
Here’s the thing. The park that you’re in right now? Paid for with taxes. The grass being green in a desert region? That water and mowing isn’t free. Guess how maintenance is paid for? The bathrooms just over there? How about the streets you drove on to get here?
I asked one man who was adamantly anti-tax if he’d be willing to pay a toll to leave his driveway. He was shocked and appalled by the suggestion. He then reiterated that no tax money should be spent on anything but defense.
These people vote.
Also, standing fifteen feet away and looking disapproving will not make me curl up in a ball and die of shame. Clucking your tongue and shaking your head are likewise ineffective. Come back and talk to me when you know of a specific program that you’d cut, how much of it you’d cut, and what its effect on the overall economy would be.
Dear C-span caller:
If you honestly think that the prospect of a late Social Security check is analogous to Nazi Germany, I have a favor to ask of you. Please don’t call in on the Democrat line. I’ve been to Germany, saw Dachau. It’s not at all like a late check. It just completely isn’t at all like it. Not even close.
I’d like to win this argument. Stop trying to help. I appreciate that you have an opinion, and that you’re on my side. I guess I’m just trying to say that maybe you’re helping the other guys more. Nothing short of genocide is like Nazi Germany. You are not Anne Frank. And now, I sound like a crazy person when I agree with you on the debt ceiling.
I’m crazy, sure. Just not in a Godwin kind of way.
I’m glad that you’re registered to vote. The problem is, I have the voter reg rolls in my hot little hand, and your name isn’t on it. This means one of the following things is true:
You’re registered with a different address, which means that unless you want to vote provisionally, you need to fill out this form.
You’re registered under your maiden name, which means that unless you want to vote provisionally, you need to fill out this form.
You filled out a registration form and it didn’t get processed correctly, which means you need to fill out this form.
You never registered to vote, which means that if you want to vote at all you need to fill out this form.
You’re registered in your own alternate universe, in which case I say good luck finding your polling location come November.
The lesson? Fill out the damn form. I’m not here for my health. Alternately, tell me that you don’t want to vote. I’ll shut up, I promise!