Monday, September 12, 2016

Ranting On...the DFL's Foolish Play Against Trump/Pence

I am mad.  About a lot of things after the past weekend  And we'll be focusing on a couple of those things in the next few days (and we already tackled one of them, which became even more ludicrous this weekend).  But right now I need to get something off of my chest about my own team: the MN DFL, who is doing something ridiculously stupid that's 100% guaranteed to be a waste of time and receive an appropriate backlash.

For those who don't know, the MN DFL and Chairman Ken Martin has moved to remove Trump/Pence from the ballot in the upcoming presidential race.  You heard me right-they want to take the Republican ticket off of the ballot, claiming that the Secretary of State violated state election law by allowing Trump/Pence on the ticket since they chose their electors via executive committee rather than via a state convention.  That's it-the only reason that we are going to war over something like this is a matter of essentially semantics, as the executive committee had to correct a mistake made by the MN GOP by not following the minutia of the law.

I have several problems with this, but before I get there, I want to insulate myself a little bit here by proclaiming loud-and-proud that I am a strong backer of the MN DFL at the ballot box.  I've never voted for a Republican in a partisan election, and that streak will continue into this November.  So I don't want to hear any "DINO" or "secret Republican" sorts of attacks.  I've door-knocked, phone-rang, and pamphlet-dropped all over this state for a variety of candidates, and will probably doing the same in the next couple of weeks.  What makes me mad here is because this is bad politics, and because it's also taking away resources from us actually winning races.

Because that's what this is-bad politics-and I don't buy for one second that the state chair "had" to do this to make the process fairer.  The reality is that the MN Supreme Court, regardless of whether Trump and the MN GOP didn't fulfill their requirements under the law (it seems pretty obvious that that's the case), should be given a spot on the ballot at the risk of disenfranchising thousands and thousands of people.  In 2012, 45% of the state's ballots were cast for the Republican ticket; in 2008 it was 44% and in 2004 it was 48%.  While never a majority (no Republican has won the state of Minnesota since 1972 on a presidential level), a significant amount of the electorate has wanted to vote for the Republican ticket in the Gopher State as long as the party has been a major party.  That's how it should continue to be.

Now, Martin could have challenged the electors, stating that they were not legally selected and that they need to be decided at a state convention that was to be convened on the GOP's dime.  That would have met the idea of "try to take down your opponent" a bit, but to go to the top of the hill, trying to disenfranchise over a million people, is both stupid and wrong.  The courts aren't going to side with the DFL here.  They'll go with the idea that the Republicans, one of the two major parties in the country, are required to have their candidate on the ballot by virtue of getting 45% in the previous election.  They might chastise Trump/Pence a bit, but at the end of the day they aren't going to alienate so many voters, nor should they.  As Democrats, we should not be supporting a policy that makes it harder for people to vote, even if that means that they are voting for a Republican.  This is where principles come into play.  If we are to win, we should do so by convincing the Republicans to come to our side or by convincing people who wouldn't have voted to get out and vote for our team.  It's not by taking away the Republicans' spot on the ballot.

So it's a court case that we are destined to win, and one that most people will see as a purely partisan grab and may want to send a message to the DFL that it's wrong to play politics in such a way.  Minnesotans, especially the rural and swing voters we need to keep holds on majorities, don't like this sort of blatant political grab, and may be turned off by the DFL.  So we aren't gaining any tactical advantage over the GOP and we look petty in the process.

The reality is that every second and dime we waste on this endeavor is money that we should be spending on getting Hillary Clinton votes across the state, ensuring she wins our ten electoral ballots.  It should be spent on helping Rick Nolan, Angie Craig, and Terri Bonoff win their House elections.  It should be spent on taking back the State House and holding the State Senate, so that the final two years of Gov. Dayton's tenure can be as productive as possible.  Just because Hillary Clinton looks likely to win the state doesn't mean it's a guarantee, and certainly doesn't mean there aren't races in the state that will be decided by 1-2 percentage points, races where this lawsuit money could be better spent.  Martin should be focusing all of his attentions on November 8th, and how to take down Trump and the GOP through good old-fashioned voters, not by a quixotic quest in the courts.

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