What's Tony Thinking

Guilty As Charged


My recent post on on-line church got a lot of response and some thoughtful pushback. I’ll share some of those comments and further thoughts in a blog later in the week. Tough topic.

Today, however, I want to enter a plea of guilty as charged to the accusation contained in Ezra Klein’s most recent podcast titled, “Democrats Chase Shiny Objects: Here’s How They Can Build Real Power.”

The charge against me, and maybe you as well, was leveled by Ezra’s guest, Amanda Litman, the founder of “Run For Something.” That’s an organization that tries to get liberal and progressives — Democrats — to run for office in local races.

Amanda’s insightful charge was that too many of us are focused on national politics and not enough on local politics. Which is why Trumpists are taking over local election boards, school boards, not to mention state legislatures and Boards of Supervisors. The Republicans are working locally. Democrats and liberals, tend to focus nationally, ceding the local ground which the Trump bewitched are gobbling up in the hopes of controlling election counts and certification in 2024 — and getting an outcome they want.

Democrat strategy appears to resemble the longtime management philosophy of the Seattle Mariners. Forget the farm (player development) system. Sign a big-name free agent player every now and then and declare victory. In recent years the M’s have changed strategies. They are playing the long game, building from the ground up, establishing one of the best farm systems in the league. It seems to be paying off.

But back to the matter at hand. For months now I have been muttering about all the on-line solicitations I get from various Democratic fundraising operations and candidates. It can easily be a dozen a day. Many of them lead with some prediction of catastrophe. If I don’t give to this or sign for that right this minute, the end is at hand.

“Unsubscribe” you say. Believe me, I’ve tried. I have begun to suspect that every time you click on the “unsubscribe” button and fill out the form, it goes immediately to the on-line version of the circular file or, worse, is gleefully sent on to another solicitor indicating I really and truly want to sign up with them too.

Alas, I brought this on myself. During the 2020 election cycle I/we not only shelled out for Biden/ Harris, but sent money to at least half a dozen Democratic senate candidates, who were running against people like Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Joanie Ernst and others. And the email updates we got as contributors were constantly saying, “We’ve almost pulled even with ______ . Only 2% points separate the candidates. Send more money.”

Turned out none of those races were even close. The “we are only 2 % points behind, MITCH IS VULNERABLE, messages were at best wishful thinking. At worst, outright lies.

At any rate, Klein’s guest, Amanda Litman, says I was wasting my money and focusing in the wrong place. Literally, she said we were “wasting our money” regarding donations to senate races like those cited. Where should I be putting more attention and making donations? Local races. The people running for County Commissioner, the Election Board, Secretary of State, Library Board or State Legislature.

But Dem’s and liberals not only need attention and money at the local level, they also need candidates. Which is where Litman’s “Run for Something” outfit comes in. It provides an on-ramp for people who could be running for a local office, who might be well-suited, but have never done anything like that before and don’t have a clue where to start. It sounds like a great idea. If I were younger . . .

Litman also points out that Democrat donors tend to be “cause oriented,” which may be why there’s such apocalyptic rhetoric in the fund-raising appeals. Republican donors view it, according to Litman, more as a business proposition. Where can we invest to ensure our interests? Moreover, they are willing to play a long game (cf. Seattle Mariners) rather than swinging for the fences with one huge everything bill in Congress. Hence, way more statehouses and governorships are in GOP hands, which is a worrisome thing for the 2024 election.

Let me note here, that many Republican elected officials in such offices stood their ground and did their job honestly and responsibly while facing serious threats in 2020. Shout out to Brad Raffensberger! But if the Trumpists beguiled by “The Big Lie,” get in local power positions, watch out.

For quite some time I have lamented the hyper-focus on national politics and the inattention to the local. And here I was doing just that. So I have a belated resolution for the New Year. Give only to local races and candidates. I’ll make an exception for the 2024 Presidential, but for now I’m leaving Raphael Warnock in the hands of the good people of Georgia and the hands of God.

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