Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Democrats: aspiring leaders in a tough moment

Jeet Heer says Democrats Need To Pick a Leader. Now.

The time is ripe for a concerted, coherent opposition to Trump even before he’s inaugurated. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is facing this national crisis leaderless. ...

Having lost the Presidency and both houses of Congress, Democrats have no agreed national spokesperson for the opposition to the GOPer/Trump ascendancy. (Those of us who identify additionally with opposition outside the electoral arena also lack universally legitimate spokespersons, though there are some damn fine ones in particular sectors.)

Heer's candidate for the role is Senator Elizabeth Warren. He makes a case.

... With her sharp, relentless, and often funny criticism of Trump, Warren has already stepped up to the plate as the party’s most stalwart voice.

All that is well and good; I wish very much that Warren had stepped up as a 2016 candidate. She might have headed off the Clinton debacle -- or maybe not. But much as I respect her, I don't think that over the next couple of years she is going to be the essential factor in the electoral political leadership against the shit show coming at us.

That leadership, if there is any health left in the system, is going to come from a younger generation of potential Democratic figures who hope that the party's 2020 nomination will be a valuable prize and who push and shove to make themselves its obvious claimant. Note that this is the route Obama took after election to the Senate in 2004.

So who is out there, trying to show their chops?
  • New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is definitely making a move with a call for a filibuster of General James Mattis's appointment as Secretary of Defense. Because Mattis only retired from the military three years ago, his appointment would require a Congressional waver of a law preventing military leaders from taking high civilian jobs until they have been retired for seven years. Gillibrand is positioning herself as critical to preserving civilian control of the military -- and as a smart tactician who has seized on a vulnerable hook at which to create friction for the incoming administration.
  • Newly elected Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is proving to be mighty feisty for a newbie. I made some tiny contributions to her election, so I get her communications:

    Our government is built on a system of checks and balances, and I promise you this: I will be one hell of a check and balance on President Donald Trump. 

    Our fight is one for our future and the America we know it should be. And nobody is going to take that away from us. It is our voices, our mass, our people, and we are going to continue to fight ...I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and be that warrior for you...

    Right attitude. She's already trying to raise money for other Dems. We'll have to see what else she does.
  • Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is uttering fierce condemnations of Trump's claim that Hillary Clinton's popular vote triumph is fraudulent.

    “Your choice to spread false conspiracy theories and to claim millions of fraudulent votes is not only unbecoming of a gracious winner, it is downright dangerous to our democracy...” ...."Peddling this nonsense and stoking these fears undermine our system of government — and your own election, damaging the public’s faith in our democracy.”

    Brown is up for re-election in 2018 from a state Trump carried (and a state where Republican voter suppression is quite advanced), so this is pretty out there.
We're in a moment when ambition might very well provide incentive for unusual boldness. Political caution isn't likely to be a career booster in the current circumstances. Let's encourage them to compete for the role of most effective insider leader of resistance.

Who else should we be watching?

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