“Casablanca” had its premier on this day at the Hollywood Theater in New York City. As a story, it’s pretty much a romantic potboiler, and more than a few have noted its propaganda element. What makes it one of the great motion pictures is the acting (and not just the leads; right down to the bit parts) and the script, which won an Oscar. How many other movies can you think of that have so many memorable lines?
I am watching this again tonight.
For the people who couldn’t bring themselves to voting for the lesser of two evils (keeping in mind her “evil” was in no small part the product of a 25-year-long right-wing smear campaign), I hope you’re enjoying the greater evil. I read a comment on one friend’s social media thread that said “Bernie.would.have.won.full.stop.” That’s nonsense. I’m sure there are lots of people who will cling to that belief as tightly as millions of people hold onto the “fact” that Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim. But there is no telling what would have happened once Fox and the Echo Chamber went after Bernie. I can guarantee, for example, we would have heard the words “Jane” “Sanders” and “fraud” regularly on the Murdoch network. I can also guarantee — and look at the UMass-Amherst voter data analysis study released last August that showed the Sanders voters who ended up voting for Trump were significantly motived by racial attitudes more than economics — that, given the choice between a candidate who appealed to them on economics (Bernie) and one who appealed to them on race (him), there’s a serious possibility those voters, in the end, would not have stuck with the Senator from Vermont.
Morevoer, that “full.stop” attitude buys into the now-entrenched meme that white working class voters, angry at being ignored by elitist Dems, made the difference last year. Oh yeah? Check the stats on white suburban women, folks. Then factor in voter suppression (particularly in WI, where white working class voters helped create the Koch fiefdom).
But, believe it or not, this rant is not about the past, but about what lies ahead. Forget the “Bernie-will-be-back-in-2020-and-lead-us-to-the-grand-progressive-dream” talk. We are 49 weeks from the next election, and here’s the playing field we face:
The Rs are about to pass a ruinous tax bill (I have next-to-zero faith that any of the reported wavering or undecided Rs in the Senate will do anything but return to the fold come the vote, expected this Thursday). That will open the floodgates for the mega-donors (and was the primary motivation for stampeding the bill through in the first place). While that bill spells disaster down the road, for next year, its supporters can rightfully claim average Americans are getting a tax cut. What’s more, they’re calculating the economy will at least keep perking through next November. Most predictions of a slowdown or recession put it in 2019.
The Rs have a deeply baked-in advantage in House races via their control of so many state governments. They only have to defend 8 seats next November; while Dems have 23, along with Bernie and Angus King in Maine. At least 9 of them are in states that voted R in 2016. Only 1 R – Dean Heller in Nevada – is on most lists of states likely to flip. So ignore the calls I sometimes see on social media of “C’mon, we only have to win 3 seats in the Senate and 24 in the House; we can do this!” They make it sound as though victory is within easy reach. It most assuredly is not.
While our side (Dems and progressives) has scored some wins, I am quite suspicious of any talk of a “blue wave.” Dems have a losing record in special Congressional races (including a candidate Bernie backed), and Roy Moore has re-taken the lead in poling in Alabama.
Peeling off whites who voted R last year is a huge, huge lift.
Dem turnout in off-year elections tends to be lower than R.
Women and minority voters are the Dems’ constituency. They may be able to persuade some white working class voters to switch, but that’s tinkering around the margins at best. We should note with concern – alarm if we see the results popping up in other polls – of recent data showing the enthusiasm of black women is dropping. This is the absolute number one most loyal Dem constituency. That needs to be shored up, and getting more women in general out is absolutely crucial. For that, we need a new message; based on last year’s results (and the flummoxed reaction of Dem leadership regarding Franken and Conyers), we should not count on sexual predation to change enough women’s minds.
And note the changing demographics of the working class. It will be white-minority in 15 years; more importantly, its youngest cohort, workers aged 18-27, will be minority-majority in 2021. Appealing to working people of color is essential.
Young people. We’ll see. The Virginia results were encouraging.
If you’re going to try to peel R House seats, work hardest on those in blue states. There are 9 Rs in the NY delegation and 14 in California. That’s 23 of the 24, just doing the most simplistic math and not accounting for individual Members’ popularity. Of course it’s more complicated, but the general point is still salient. But it’s probably more fruitful than trying to take away seats in deep-red country. Note more than a dozen House Rs voted against the tax bill, and all but one were from CA, NJ, and NY. Think they hear the banshees?
Finally, can we stop devoting precious time and resources to impeachment? That.is.not.going.to.happen.full.stop, even if Dems take back Congress. I’ve mentioned this before, but I will again: I worked in the Senate in1998. When the articles of impeachment came over (Henry Hyde and Bob Barr sanctimoniously carrying them across the Capitol for the cameras), Strom Thurmond spoke to his caucus. He said, “It takes 67 votes to get rid of this fella, and we don’t have it. Let’s get this over with.”
Oh and BTW, the Rs did not have a good time in the fall elections after that. If you don’t have 67 votes, it’s a waste of time and only likely to invigorate the administration.
There, got that off my chest.
One of the great minds of his time, nominated seven times for the Nobel Prize in Literature. He wrote nearly 50 books, the most famous of which is Brave New World.
Instead, he was gunned down by a Cleveland police officer three years ago today.
Okay, no, he wasn’t one of the great presidents, but nonetheless, I and millions of others still ponder and mourn the what-ifs.