2017: Whither Democrats?


Let’s look at what’s happening right now… and tell me which party really cares about the deficit, but only when the house is controlled by the Democrats… so they have someone to blame.


Oh, I wasn’t talking about now, or the recent past. When was a significant law last passed with non-trivial bipartisan support? It’s been a while!


That deserves a chuckle.

Edit: Sidetracked! Meant to post this; it won’t get enacted, of course, but it’s a damn good proposal to run on I think.

Campaign finance

  • Public financing of campaigns, powered by small donations. Under Sarbanes’s vision, the federal government would provide a voluntary 6-1 match for candidates for president and Congress, which means for every dollar a candidate raises from small donations, the federal government would match it six times over. “If you give $100 to a candidate that’s meeting those requirements, then that candidate would get another $600 coming in behind them,” Sarbanes told Vox this summer. “The evidence and the modeling is that most candidates can do as well or better in terms of the dollars they raise if they step into this new system.”
  • Passing the DISCLOSE Act, pushed by Rep. David Cicilline (RI) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), both Democrats from Rhode Island. This would require Super PACs and “dark money” political organizations to make their donors public.
  • Passing the Honest Ads Act, championed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Mark Warner (VA), which would require Facebook and Twitter to disclose the source of money of political ads on their platforms, and share how much money was spent.


  • Requiring the president to disclose his or her tax returns.
  • Stopping members of Congress from using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment cases or buy first-class plane tickets.
  • Giving the Office of Government Ethics the power to do more oversight and enforcement and put in stricter lobbying registration requirements.
  • Create a new ethical code for the US Supreme Court, ensuring all branches of government are impacted by the new law.

Voting rights

  • Creating new national automatic voter registration that asks voters to opt out, rather than opt in, ensuring more people will be signed up to vote. Early voting and online voting would also be promoted.
  • Restoring the Voting Rights Act, part of which was dismantled by a US Supreme Court decision in 2013. Ending partisan gerrymandering in federal elections and prohibiting voter roll purging.
  • Beefing up elections security, including requiring the Director of National Intelligence to do regular checks on foreign threats.


The problem is that most of these just make too much sense, which means Trump will never sign it, in the unlikely event that McConnell even allows a vote on it. Just sad how things like voter rights and ethics are highly partisan issues.


Elizabeth Warren has her own good government bill. Those with their ears to the ground can hear distant rumblings of the 2020 Dem race:

(So with her bill not just the president needs to disclose their tax returns, but also candidates for federal office. Maybe you have some particular candidate in mind, Senator Warren? Perhaps a New England neighbor?)


Warren is already not looking like a great 2020 candidate however:

You finish third in a poll of Massachusetts voters at this stage, that’s maybe not the best early sign. Long time to go obviously.


Warren would definitely be up there with the worst possible candidates the Democrats could field, from a raw electability perspective.


Counterpoint: Here is EWarren’s new puppy dog:


Noted Moderate John Kasich is basically a Democrat, I heard. They should nominate him! Surely then they’d get all the votes from the Silent Majority in the Enlightened Center.


This is the very first item on that list:

Off the top of my head:

  1. Voters hate political ads. I doubt “more political ads!” polls well. Especially when taxpayers will be paying for them.

  2. "Democrats want more money influencing politics!" is also a bad look. Yes, I know the “more money” will be to counterbalance the money already rigging the system, but it’s still a bad look.

  3. Optics aside, is this actually going to lead to good policy outcomes? I worry that candidates running in a bunch of genuinely uncompetitive races (the Republican challenger to Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, for example) will have a lot of messed up incentives to fundraise so that they can spend the 6x Federal matching funds on supporting a candidate in a more competitive district, or just on a bunch of wing-nut welfare.

  4. Are there going to be sufficient safeguards to stop this from being used to give the wealth of millionaires a 6x amplification? And will those safeguards be strong enough to survive Supreme Court scrutiny?

  5. How will this apply to third parties? It seems to me that you’d need to exclude them to have good policy outcomes, but that’s another bad look…


Bob Dole is also available.


Those are all great questions of course. I honestly don’t know how to reform campaign financing but I’m glad more knowledgeable folks are still working on it. Or hopefully they’re more knowledgeable. The amount of money spent in every campaign gets to be a bit staggering so it’d be great to somehow reign it in.


Yeah but this doesn’t matter. They say they hate political ads but guess what, they’re willing to be influenced by them. That’s why so much time and money is spent on them. it’s kind of up there with people saying they’re not influenced by marketing, because no one wants to really admit they are.


A key part of the proposal is that candidates are not eligible if they accept any donations over $1000. So it’s not necessarily “more money” or “more ads”. It’s money and ads coming from small donors instead of big donors.


Greetings. It is I, David “47” Koch, happily making a “small donation” of $1,000 to each and every House and Senate race. I appreciate that the federal taxpayer will be supporting my political advocacy by sextupling the power of my donations, and doubly appreciate that Democrats will be the face of that policy.

Mind you, it’s not like donating $1,000 to each and every House and Senate race is the limit of my political spending. Lord no. But I’ll be sure to spend that money in support of Republican campaigns, instead of giving it directly to the campaigns.

(I also plan to donate $1,000 to all the crazy Green party candidates in close districts. You’re welcome, America.)


The thing is, Mr. Koch, that Senator Smith doesn’t really care about the other 534 legislators you also support. Senator Smith only cares about Senator Smith’s donors and Senator Smith’s constituents. Furthermore, the Senator was legally required to decline PAC money in order to take advantage of sextupled donations.

So as far as Senator Smith is concerned, your $1000 is no better than the $1000 from many other donors. Please take a number, and wait your turn.


I think I just broke the code.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the Democratic Party challenging the Republican Party for political power in the United States of America, because the idea that a Republican Senator wouldn’t take a phone call from David Koch is absurd, $1,000 limit or no.

Rather, this is about Democrats challenging other Democrats, and trying to craft a narrative in which a political candidate can be ethically sourced. In that context I guess it makes sense as an idea to fire up the base, or whatever. But the idea that you’ll magically muzzle big money in the face of a hostile Supreme Court is a fantasy.


Lol. I like that she fights back.


It doesn’t matter whether there are still candidates that are bought, as long as there are also candidates that are not bought, who have reasonable chances of victory. Spending, past a certain level, has significantly decreased value to a campaign, so you are making a big dent in the influence of the elite by allowing the candidates who rely solely on support from lots of individual donors to compete with those who get outside money (without having to catch lightning in a bottle like Bernie or Beto…who both lost!).

I don’t think it’s a bad look at all to say that you are asking politicians to do their fundraising by convincing tens of thousands of people to support them, rather than by convincing four or five really rich people to do so.


Officially not running in 2020: Michael Avenatti.

So, that’s good, I think.

Biden sounding more and more like he’s leaning towards running. His national polling is strong, but I wonder about polling in key primary states. I keep seeing poll evidence that Iowa and New Hampshire want a generational change in the Democratic party, which probably leaves folks like Biden, Bernie, and Warren out, if so.