State-by-state election analysis: Cliff Schecter and Jay Ackroyd on Virtually Speaking

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It’s election day at last. I’ve been looking for a state-by-state and race-by-race analysis, offered as a sort of scorecard you can fill in yourself as the inning-by-inning game progresses. (The next post will be a scorecard to use if the game goes into extra innings.)

And I found an excellent one, from Virtually Speaking a few days ago. The participants are Dem analyst and consultant Cliff Schecter and VS host Jay Ackroyd. It’s excellent. The discussion goes by very quickly as Cliff gets to the races one after another. My guess, he’s 90% right on his picks at the very least.

Here’s the discussion. Enjoy. (Hint: Holding down the right and left arrow keys performs an excellent fast-forward and fast-rewind. Use them for navigation.)

Listen to internet radio with Jay Ackroyd on Blog Talk Radio

Note near the end (at roughly 49:45) the talk digresses into “why isn’t Obama more progressive when progressive governance wins?” territory. Cliff and Jay disagree at that point. That disagreement matters, in my view.

The inability to “get” why Dems diminish their electoral chances by not being more populist after entering office — as opposed to running as populists before entering office, as Obama did in 2008 — is exactly why progressives always lose … to Dems.

I’m going to revisit that strongly in the weeks ahead. Howie Klein at DownWithTyranny has said, for example, that Steve Israel, Pelosi’s chosen leader of the DCCC, has risked loss of the House in order to get fewer progressives elected. It’s what Dems do — killing off progressives — and starting tomorrow I’m going to hit this hard. So should you, progressive boys and girls.

I do agree with Cliff that parties can be and have been changed from within. Look at the (admittedly AFP–funded) Tea Party candidates. But it takes courage — and aggressive, effective tactics. We may have the courage, but we sure don’t have the tactics; our insiders almost always lose to NeoLib leaders.

In addition, we have the wrong measurable — the means by which we determine if a plan is succeeding. (For example, let’s say you wanted to be a faster athlete, but your measurable, the way you measure results, is how much weight you lose. With that measurable, you’ll never ever get there.)

Progressives shouldn’t be measuring whether we have More Progressives in office — we know from experience that more progressives still doesn’t deliver more wins. Progressive office-holders get rolled by NeoLiberal Dem leaders and their enablers every single day of the week.

If progressives want wins, guess what they should be measuring — Progressive Wins. But that’s me; I’m all for being effective and building an effective progressive coalition. Call me madcap.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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One Response to “State-by-state election analysis: Cliff Schecter and Jay Ackroyd on Virtually Speaking”

  1. Nephyo says:

    Your link for “effective progressive coalitions” appears to be broken.

    One should be warned that from about 8 minutes to 23 minutes into this podcast is dominated by a very passionate rant by Cliff Schecter on why Romney is terrible and Obama is not nearly as bad. It’s interesting but if you’re just looking for a rundown of the races you might want to skip that. They also go back to the Obama question several times while running through other candidates and the debate at the end you mentioned. A quick list of the best most progressive candidates is at the very end at 1:06:40. It’s all definitely worth listening to though. 
    The most interesting thing Cliff said was this: “There is a reason why he’s doing disproportionately well in states that are supposed to exactly reflect the national average.”   I think that perfectly sums up the Obama strategy and style of governance. He has tried as hard as he can to match the average state and not tried to lead anyone to a different way of looking at things or alter the state of conventional wisdom. Thus he would preserve the status quo and get re-elected. It’s almost as if a win exactly on the margins like this is precisely what they planned all along. The question is why? Why would he not want to change the political landscape to one that is more favorable to Democrats?

    When Cliff argues that the Democratic party can be changed from within he is of course right but I don’t think he fairly represents the other side of that debate. Making the Democratic party more progressive is certainly one important means of promoting progressive change but it’s hardly the only one we should care about. There are at least four others I can think of off the top of my head that could also and have historically at least sometimes helped lead to progressive change. Outsider agitation, trying to pass progressive ballot initiatives, promoting more progressive third parties, and trying to make the Republican party more progressive. Certainly the path of least resistance that gets the most attention during an election season right now seems to be to change the Democratic party from within. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep our eye out for opportunities to promote and score “progressive wins” through any and all other means as well. Getting a progressive third party enough sway that it can make a significant impact on the national stage and trying to make the Republican party more progressive seem like long shots to me given the current political climate but I would not begrudge those who want to explore those avenues of attack anyway. You never know when a new strategy will catch hold and be effective. Nobody ever thought something like Occupy would work until it did.

    So those arguing against the Democratic party I don’t take as believing that any and all democrats are utterly hopeless and a part of the enemy. I see them as arguing that there are better and more effective places to put their energy than bending over backwards to elect Democrats, especially not centrist, corpratist, or blue dog democrats. And I party agree with them, except that I would argue that spending some effort fighting for those few truly progressive democrats is clearly worth doing. It just makes sense though to say that democratic party activism does take a lot of energy on the Left away from other effective strategies, like direct action, and that is a serious problem that often gets dismissed around election time because we are too worried about making sure the scary Republicans don’t win.

    I would like to know more about what counts as “progressive wins” in your book and how you intend to count them post election.

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