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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Jeff Erdmann Is A True Progressive - But Tilts To The Divisive

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 07/30/17 17:23, Edited: 07/30/17 17:28

by Dave Mindeman

Jeff Erdmann is running for Congress in CD2. He is a strong, progressive candidate.

My first issue, though, is that Mr. Erdmann has not been engaged in the party up till now. I asked him directly about his absence and he explained to me that his job as a civics teacher and football coach required him to remain neutral so that he could relate to the diverse young people that he educates. OK. That is plausible. But I have to point out that I know a lot of teachers who do their job and then are incredibly active with helping in elections on their own time. If you are careful about an image - it seems a little drastic to suddenly pop in class one day and say you are running for Congress as a Democrat.

But there is another issue. Jeff came to an SD57 meeting last week and made his pitch for endorsment in Congressional District 2 to oppose Jason Lewis. Great. We need to win.

However, during questions and answers, Jeff struck a tone that flashed red flags over and over. He talked about his main issues, but used the phrase "Wall Street Democrats". As if Dems taking Wall Street money was somehow equivalent to a Goldman Sachs Treasury department that we have now.

Erdmann wants to overturn Citizens United and supports a public financing of elections. That is fine and frankly, I don't see any Democrats opposing that in any context. Erdmann doesn't like corporate money in politics and points to Bernie's successful appeals to the electorate as his prime example. And yes, Bernie did an amazing job. He stayed competitive all through the primary - but he lost. And we also do not know if that money would have continued strong enough to last through a Presidential campaign.

Is the Bernie method preferred? Absolutely. Will that work for every Democratic candidate? Absolutely not.

Erdmann also talked as though his number 1 issue is to get money out of politics. For a Democrat, that is not a hard position to take. Our party supports public financing of elections in our platform. He gets no argument from any of us on that. But Erdmann seems to take it a bit further by internalizing it into the Democrats; as if they are simply a lesser evil.

He also mentioned the lawsuit against the DNC and seems convinced that they rigged the 2016 election. Whether or not that happened (and I do not believe it did for reasons I have explained in previous posts) is a marginal point at present....especially if you are going to seek the endorsement from the very party you are criticizing.

We have a much bigger problem in the Oval Office. And as these investigations continue we may find that we have an illegitimate President who cheated the system to an advantage we are only beginning to understand. Stolen DNC e-mails made public should not make the DNC the enemy. They have their faults (many of them) but more important is what what we need to do for success in 2018.

Yes, Citizens United should be overturned, but a Congressional campaign in 2018 is going to have little effect on a drive to a constitutional amendment that may take a decade to achieve. Why not focus more on outside money and the need for transparency? We need to know where these spigots of money are coming from - at least for now.

Erdmann seems good on the environment. Then, please, talk more about it. Educate the electorate and make that a centerpiece.

He wants to take on corporate issues. Great - but we are stuck with them in the short term. Their money, their greed, their lobbyists. We rail against them all the time - nobody disagrees with that. But our job right now is to get a seat at the table in Washington. We need to elect Democrats - not publicly criticize and internally oppose Democrats.

Erdmann is running against Jason Lewis - not the foibles of the Democratic Party. Democrats have plenty of issues to change and address, but they are NOT Republicans. They are NOT undermining health care, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Erdmann also has a good focus on Medicare for all. Great. Focus more on that. Make that argument...fine. But leave out the divisive rhetoric and keep your eyes on the goal. Football coaches should be good at that.

My advice to Mr. Erdmann is do not get distracted - and know the true end game.

In closing, if Mr. Erdmann wishes to talk me about my assertions here, I would be more than willing to talk and post his opinions. I reached out to his campaign through their campaign website contact page but only received an automated response.
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Internal Democratic Struggles Are So Unproductive

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 07/27/17 14:49

by Dave Mindeman

I find it enormously frustrating that Democratic activists and candidates seem to focus their ire in the wrong places. I agree with their view. I want to make the same changes. I will work to make that happen. But we have to work in the areas that can actually make a difference.

For example. Regarding Citizens United. Democrats talk loud and long about this Supreme Court decision being wrong. It is drowning our elections in corporate money and the vast majority of that money supports Republicans.

Yet, the term "Wall Street Democrats" is popping up much too often. Sure, there are Democratic candidates who take Wall Street money. It is not ideal but funding a campaign has to have money, at least until we can fix this.

And where will the fix come from? Well, since the Supreme Court has ruled that money is "free speech" and corporations are "people", the only sure way to fix it is with a Constitutional amendment. And that means electing people who will support that concept. When a Democrat raises a lot of money, the tendency is to dismiss that person as not on our side. I disagree. If they manage to get elected and have made a pledge to us, we can hold them accountable.

Of course, the question becomes...why not support a candidate who will not take big money - a candidate who will run a"grass roots" campaign? Well, the only person who managed to make that work was Bernie Sanders... and even at that he was out of money by the end of the primary season...and he still lost. And to my mind, Bernie was unique in that regard. Candidates that he has been willing to support have not gotten the same monetary support and have not been winning.

Money is critical for winning any race. Even more so in Congressional and other Federal campaigns. I don't like it, but I refuse to accept the idea that Democratic candidates who raise a competitive amount of money are not really with us. The ugly reality is that raising money is the only way to a campaign's true viability. And outside money can crush us, even then.

But let's get back to the real fix. A Constitutional amendment needs to get 2/3rds of both Houses and 2/3rds of the state legislatures.

Since Republicans control both Houses and 30+ states, this doesn't look realistic right now.

But we have to look at a longer range plan. A plan that requires legislative focus and electoral action. Winning is the important thing. And if winning NOW requires monetary investments from wherever we can get it, then so be it. We make the pledge to the goal and find a way to get there - and that means holding any Democrat that can get elected accountable to any pledge they make regarding money in politics.

We cannot do this by internal bickering and semantic language. We need to find a way to win...period.

It is discouraging to me that Democrats, faced with the Trump problem and Republican domination, still think it is necessary to rehash the 2016 divisions and label our own candidates in negative ways.

It is frustrating. It is self destructive. And I, for one, am tired of it.

Don't fight each other. The enemy for 2018 is very, very clear.

Get to work.
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We Hear From Jared

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 07/24/17 16:25

by Dave Mindeman

Jared Kushner finally spoke. He made a statement on the White House lawn but didn't take any questions. But there was one small part of that statement that seemed very curious....

I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.

That sounded very much like the precise kind of language a lawyer would be consulted about.

The word "relied" stands out like a big red flag. It seems to allow for the idea that Kushner got Russian funding - but he seems to be arguing that it wasn't a basic block of his finances.

But it leaves this open for a lot of speculation. Kushner met with a Russian money launderer - that much we know. But how involved or not involved he was financially with them remains a mystery.

The questions surrounding Trump's and his family's finances are becoming a much bigger question - and the President is getting much more sensitive around talk of his tax returns.

The are becoming a key to the mystery of Russia and I can't imagine that Robert Muller is not already looking at all of it.

Kushner does not look or talk like the political power broker that Trump seems to think he is. I cannot even imagine him as some kind of negotiator between Abbas and Netanyahu - but he is deeply involved in this administration and its sordid affairs. And we can only hope that what has been buried will be brought out into the open.

Jared Kushner is more careful about what he says than his father-in-law (who isn't), but I would guess that Jared's lawyers are worried and his word parsing is intentional.
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