3/21 Death Valley

I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Literally now. Yesterday I took the two hour ride up to Death Valley National Park in California. Thankfully I went on an 80 degree day in March and not a 110 degree day in June. I got to enjoy the amazing sites and desert beauty without dying of dehydration.

Things are just different out west. When you stop in the visitor center, the warnings they give you are not things you’d see in most places. There’s a whole room dedicated to water, with a warning sign on the wall about the dangers of dehydration killing you, or causing serious illness. Walk a few yards up and there’s a board with warnings about feeding coyotes and other wild animals. If you feed them, it’s a “death sentence” for the animals, they tell you. I guess it is.

Ball go boom. That is the Phillies strategy for 2022, and it’s a good one. Sure, bad defense can hurt. Sure, a questionable bullpen could lose you games. In the end though, a sneaky good pitching staff, on paper, and an electric offense should be enough to get the Phillies to the postseason. Last year the Phillies had the 7th best record in the NL at 82-80. If you believe Rhys Hoskins will be healthier, or that Aaron Nola will be better, or now that Schwarber and Castellanos will be what they’ve been in recent years, you should see this team as better. Hell, if you think Knebel, Familia, and Hand will just be league average relievers, this team has a shot.

Looking at the National League right now, I think one can fairly call the Braves, Brewers, and Dodgers favorites to win their divisions. The Phillies, Mets, Cardinals, and Giants all appear ready to give those teams a run, while the Marlins, Cubs, and Padres also seem capable of contending. That’s ten teams for six spots. I’m not sure what to make of Colorado, but neither is Colorado. Figure Arizona, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Washington are glorified AAA ball in 2022. Health will thin out at least some of these ten teams from contention. Now that the Phillies are into the luxury tax, they should do what is necessary to get into the post-season. They shed a lot of payroll next off-season anyway. I figure it’ll take at least 86 wins.

One thing you have to hand Republicans is that everything they do is about winning elections. They’re lunatics, but they occasionally try to aim their crazy shit at voters who live in swing districts and states. As I watch Democrats in 2022, that’s not something we do very well. We largely message towards our base voters, particularly small dollar donors and volunteers, to gin up excitement. That’s great and all, but it doesn’t do much to deal with sagging approval numbers with Black men, Latinos, and people who happen to live in swing Congressional seats. If you’re not aiming your message at voters in NJ-7 or NY-1, or PA-7 or 8, but instead are fighting inside policy and messaging battles with “The Squad” and other safe leftist members of the party, are you actually trying to win.

One thing I wonder about the Democratic Party is if it actually knows much of anything at all about the voters who live in swing legislative seats? Certainly one can argue that there are different dynamics at work in different battleground Senate races (Georgia and North Carolina vs. Pennsylvania and Ohio, for instance). How about swing Congressional and state legislative districts though? Sure, there are demographic differences between some of these seats, but the lion’s share of the electorate deciding control of the House, and even the Senate, are educated suburbanites that live within commutable range to cities, and dislike both Trumpism and tax increases. They don’t like “big government,” and they don’t like “stupid” either. They’re probably not big fans of MTG or AOC. They’re almost certainly not monthly online donors to either party. They voted for Joe Biden as much for how he was “different than other Democrats” as how he is different for Trump. They mostly despise both Washington and their state Capitol.

I do not believe my side is doing a good job of reaching these people.

Until next time…

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