How the Democrats are Losing the Online Game

Tell the truth, how many fundraising e-mails did you delete this weekend? For me, it got so bad that I unsubscribed from close to a dozen e-mail lists. Back in the dark ages when I was in college (2002-2006), I got myself on every e-mail list I could. It felt like I actually got information about the 2004 Presidential candidates back then. That’s not what e-mails are used for on political campaigns in 2019.

Democrats now view digital campaign organizing, e-mails, and even their website as an ATM. In the wake of McCain-Feingold and the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision, Democrats face a real challenge in keeping up financially with the right-wing financial machine. They’ve exasperated that by ingesting the poison pill rhetoric that all lobbyists and political action committees (PACs) are terrible, and we can’t take their money. The Bernie purity rhetoric, and even President Obama’s a generation ago, puts Democrats behind the eight ball. So what’s been the answer? Go grassroots. Ask for $27 over and over again. We still can’t keep up, but it’s worth a shot. Pledge to take no PAC money or federal lobbyist money at all- even from unions, Planned Parenthood, or Environmental groups- to try and motivate activists who have little understanding of campaign budgets to fund your campaign.

The net result is a million micro-messages from every group and candidate on the left to try and motivate you to give some cash. It turns into annoying white noise. It works fine for interest groups in DC, who do the best in this messy void, but leaves everyone else all over the map. It leads to the “Democrats have no message” meme.

What about the Republican Party? They don’t have quite the same issues. In 2016 everyone knew that the Trump message was “Make America Great Again,” and “Crooked Hillary.” Hillary Clinton was a criminal that would take the America you and your descendants built away from you, and give it to “other” people, but Donald Trump would stop that and restore it to you. Yes, they did field, television, and mail to get that message to you, but on a far scaled down level from what Mitt Romney and John McCain has done. They understood that the race would be decided at the margins, so they went cheaper and more straight to the point- they talked to you online. Sure, maybe some GRU guy in Moscow was giving them an assist, but don’t underestimate what the GOP did. They were getting 20 impressions on your brain through Facebook, for the price of one TV ad, at a far more efficient clip too. They hit their audience directly with one simple, straight forward message- Make America Great Again. The whole right-wing took part.

So what’s going to happen in 2020? Look no further than this week’s Wisconsin election for the State Supreme Court. Democrats narrowly lost, despite hitting their turnout targets across the board. Republican turnout simply spiked. What was their message? Socialism. It didn’t matter if it was the Koch funded groups, the NRA, or religious conservatives, they simply told you the Democratic “socialists” are coming to take what you want away from you. They’ll take your guns, your church, and your tax dollars, and give America to those “others.” They will spend hundreds of millions of dollars into digital ads on the internet that tell their voters to fear Democrats, because socialism.

As the really smart friend of mine that does digital campaign work explained this to me yesterday, I realized just how messed up the Democratic Party is on digital. We’re trying to use the internet to finance our campaigns, while they’re using it to poison the Democratic brand. It’s a mismatch. If no one in the Democratic Party figures this out soon, it could be too late- and Donald Trump could be basking in “four more years” chants.

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Finding Your History

I recently started piecing together my family tree on ancestry dot com, and so far I’ve found a lot. There have been frustrations, like knowing nothing at all about my mom’s paternal family or the relative roadblock I’ve run into on my dad’s side when I get a generation or so back into the old country, but that’s relatively minor comparable to what I’ve found. My tree now has 137 people, and ties back to several countries in Europe.

I’ve always known about my father’s maternal family, in part because my off-the-boat great-grandmother was alive until I was nine. Among the things I’ve found out though in the past year or two was that she was on one of the final boats into Ellis Island in 1923, just before the Johnson-Reed Act passed (Immigration Act of 1924), choking off most immigration into the country. It also had never occurred to me that she was naturalized as an American citizen in 1942, at the height of patriotic fever during World War II. It started to make more sense though when I realized that our village of Udol (formerly known as Ujak), in present day Slovakia, was a part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire when she was born in 1903, and my great-grandfather had fought for them in World War I, on the side of the Axis. Between the “communist hysteria” that Eastern Europeans faced at that time, and his having fought on the other side of the First World War, getting naturalized probably felt very important for them to show they were Americans. On the bright side of that, my father could get Italian citizenship because of my great-grandfather.

Despite the road block that sat on my mother’s paternal side, her mother’s side of the family turned up a mountain of information. I was able to turn up deep roots in New York and New Jersey, including really deep family roots in the Woodstock area of Ulster County. I could trace family ties back to Colonial America, including in the Revolution period. What I found on the American side wasn’t the shocking part. I was not surprised by my ties back to “old country” Germany, just that they went back into the 1600’s. I was surprised to learn I have relatives from the Netherlands, specifically from Holland and Amsterdam, although that made sense with my New York City roots. I also seem to have heritage in Switzerland too, which surprised me. I even found one distantly great-grandmother from France.

The part that blew my mind though was my British blood. I seem to have a lot of relatives from the Yorkshire and Derbyshire areas on my mom’s side. I was even more shocked when I was able to tie them as far back as the 1400’s. In digging through, I was able to find my English ancestors petitioning the crown on grievances, both in America and Great Britain. Reading back through the history astounded me. I also came to realize that not all of my ancestors were members of the Church of England- meaning some of them likely came here for the “religious freedom” that is such a part of our American history.

I’ve always known I was a bit of a Euro-mutt, but I still learned a lot in all of this. To my knowledge, my father’s paternal side is still 50% Polish/Lithuanian and 50% Hungarian. My father’s maternal side traces back to present day Slovakia, but that region is Carpathian-Ruthenian, meaning most people there are mixed Slovak, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, and Hungarian. My mom’s paternal side is mostly a mystery to me, but I’ve always been told it’s German and Italian. I now know my mother’s maternal side is heavily British and German, with a bit of Dutch, Swiss, and French mixed in. I almost can claim enough flags to guarantee myself being happy at the end of the Euro every time.

I guess I’m as old American as it gets.

A Hit Job By Any Standard

Let me start by saying what I think- It’s not going to work. I don’t believe attacking Joe Biden for kissing a woman on the back of her head, or rubbing noses with a woman is going to kill his potential Presidential bid. While it might resonate with supporters of Bernie Sanders, or more activist driven feminists, those folks weren’t going to probably support Biden in the Democratic Primaries anyway. Biden’s base of support within the party, a base that currently puts him in the lead, would probably require a much higher standard of wrong doing- something much closer to criminal, to even give it much thought. These aren’t the issues animating them, and they’re not likely to be moved by them.

Let’s be clear for a second that while Biden is very popular within the party, he’s not universally loved, or the absolute sure thing, silver bullet candidate his fans sell him as. He’s run and lost for the nomination twice. He’s gaffe prone, at times. He’s an old, white male, and there are plenty of people in the party who would rather not do that. I like Biden a lot, and could easily vote for him in November against Donald Trump, without second thoughts, even with these attacks on him. I’m also not committing myself to support him yet, because well, he does have flaws.

Let’s also be clear that what’s being done here is an absolute political hit job. Lucy Flores, a Bernie Sanders supporter and surrogate, dropped this revelation about Joe Biden “smelling her hair” and “kissing the back of her head” on the Friday before the second fundraising quarter was set to begin- roughly the point where many folks believe Biden may enter the race. It got her on the Sunday shows, and now a Congressional aide comes out and says he “rubbed their noses” together the next day. It comes as polls show Biden with a significant lead nationally, and a lead in the kickoff state of Iowa. A Biden candidacy right now would be the biggest roadblock for Bernie Sanders, Flores’ candidate of choice. To be clear from the pictures above, Flores isn’t always upset by older men entering her personal space in a friendly manner. If you think this is all happening randomly and accidentally right now, I have some ocean front property for you in Nebraska.

Now, through all of this, let’s be clear here, I’m not saying we should give Biden a pass here. Hair sniffing is kind of weird. His intimate, physical style of interacting may not be welcome by everyone, and if it isn’t, he needs to understand that and adjust his behavior accordingly. Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, rushed to Biden’s defense when a picture of him touching her shoulders was used to attack Biden’s style, as did several former female aides to Biden. They are entitled to their feelings on Biden’s actions, as is Flores and those who don’t appreciate it. I’m not going to rush to judgment on other people’s feelings. When Joe Biden put his hands on my shoulders a decade ago in Iowa, it didn’t bother me, but I only get my say.

I just wish people would be honest about their real issues with Joe Biden, rather than making a mockery of real accusations against actual monsters. Lucy Flores is already backing away from making this a sexual harassment issue, instead saying it’s a “personal space issue.” Can we call it what it really is though- a front-running candidate issue. Some people don’t like Biden on ideological grounds. Others don’t like him because they don’t feel he represents the identity of the base of the Democratic Party. These are legitimate reasons to oppose a Joe Biden candidacy for President. Pretending Biden is some sort of predator for kissing the top of a woman’s head, or rubbing noses, is a ridiculous hit job, being done on the behalf of an inferior candidate for President that is not as likable or achieved as Biden. Should Joe check this behavior? Yeah, while it’s endearing to me, it’s just not something he can do indiscriminately in 2019. His rivals should stick to taking him on with real issues, not making the entire American left look like a bunch of prude clowns though.

Not the Right Spokesperson for the Democrats

In the Trump era, Democrats were left largely without a voice for the first two years. Without the White House, the Senate, or the House, there was a vacuum. President Obama was gone. Hillary Clinton was gone. Tom Perez was busy off trying to appease Bernie world without angering everyone else. It was a free-for-all.

Fortunately in the aftermath of the 2018 midterm, the Democrats are a relevant party again. Nancy Pelosi is arguably the second most powerful person in America. The House Democratic leadership team gets the title “Majority” in front of their names now. Their chairman can subpoena information and run investigations and oversight. There are relevant Democratic voices in the process of making law.

Unfortunately, those aren’t the only voices that seem to have emerged from the leadership. There are other voices rising, voices with a “burn it down” tone to them. They aren’t interested in any compromises, or therefore actually making law. They don’t accept any criticism, they fire back at friendly criticism with the fury of hell. They’re convinced they and they alone “get it,” and that the last generation of Democrats just didn’t “do it right” to get what we want. There idea of “coalition building” is to bait and switch allies into supporting their ideas, then moving the goal posts. When they say unacceptable things, they fire back at fellow Democrats with cries of xenophobia.

I’m obviously talking about more than one member, but none of them have quite shined like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC. On a Capitol Hill full of men older than my parents, and with far less charisma, her media savvy does shine out. She’s good on TV, active on social media, and unapologetic in making demands in a way that excites parts of our base. She is the proverbial “golden goose” of the left. She comes out of the Bernie left ideologically, but plays identity politics with the best of them. Taking away my personal feelings about her politics, she is an impressive talent.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents the Bronx and Queens. It’s a cool district. It’s also not at all representative of most of the other 434 districts in Congress. At most, there are 100 seats as urban as her’s, probably less as diverse, and almost none as liberal. She did beat a formerly powerful Democratic Leader in last Summer’s primary, but she did so in a race where under 30,000 people voted, or less than 75% of what would typically show up in a hotly contested primary like this. She is not representative of a candidate who would win in most other blue districts, and yet she is demanding the rest of the party’s members follow her, whether it’s on the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, or abolishing ICE. Worse yet, when they do follow her, she then changes what they agree to without their consent.

We are a long way from AOC’s brand being electable in the large majority of house districts. She would not win in swing-districts in North Carolina, Iowa, or Pennsylvania. Her ideas roll up huge support numbers in her district, but are far more controversial in places that Democrats don’t have a stranglehold on. Should she be primaried? I’d actually say no, it’s not my district, not my choice. Should she be the face of the party, the person people in PA-8, IA-1, or NC-9 see as representing our party in the media? Hell. No.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez polls under water about 10% nationally. As you can see above, she polls under water in the blue state of New York. Her favorability in New York City is less than overwhelming, and her position against Amazon putting a second headquarters in Queens polls underwater. With this much opposition to her even in “friendly” areas, it’s hard to sell her as a national savior for the party anywhere else.

Still, I’d consider her just fine for her district alone, if she wasn’t such a bully. They elected her there, they can have her. She’s not content with that though. She has promised to primary Democrats that are out of step with her ideals for the party. She has talked up a potential primary to House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries. There are rumblings of a primary against House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey. Both Jeffries and Lowey are members of the New York delegation with her. While she is likely to fail to unseat either, the possibility of nominating someone unelectable (especially in Lowey’s seat) is very real. Even if she does fail, it’s a complete waste of resources.

AOC is not the face of the party that Democrats need if they want to represent the majority of the United States in Congress very long, let alone the White House. To this point, leadership has left her to fire up the faithful and do what she does. There’s a danger this will become less harmless soon. AOC is not the leading figure Democrats need, particularly if she’s going to push more and more members to be acolytes of her politics. The Democrats need to elevate representatives who could represent more districts, rather than throwing red meat to the ideologues.

Wrestling With Thanfulness

This past weekend was the NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships in Pittsburgh, PA. I suffered some real FOMO watching. I wrestled eleven years and love the sport. This tournament is quite possibly the greatest event in the sport. Here it was, across my state. I’m also quite a fan of Pittsburgh, and it’s rivers and bridges. More importantly though, they have Primanti Brothers. I love me some Primanti Brothers. You can see why in the picture above.

After the tournament was over, I saw a former teammate’s post on Facebook, talking about his trip to the tournament. This guy was a lot more accomplished wrestler than I was, winning a state championship and three conference championships in college. He talked about how hard it was for him to go to nationals in Pittsburgh though- the place his career ended, one match short of being an All-American. He talked about how he spent years thinking his entire career was a failure. Then he talked about getting over all of that, realizing how successful he was, and recognizing all the good he took from his athletic career. It was a really cool, inspiring post to read in the mess of politics and personal drama that usually inhabits Facebook.

Obviously that post made me think a lot about my sports career, and what I took from it into real life. As I said above, I wrestled eleven years, but I also ran indoor and outdoor track, as well as cross-country in high school, winning seven varsity letters along the way. I played baseball for eight years, stopping at the junior legion level to focus on my other sports (we weren’t a very good team, and to be honest, that discouraged me. I dabbled in football in elementary school and soccer in middle school too. I enjoyed playing sports as a kid, and did a lot of it. I’d like to think it had a positive influence on me.

My sports career didn’t really end ideally though. By the time I reached high school, I played sports because it’s what I did. I got more anxiety out of it than enjoyment. This isn’t a story of over-zealous parents here, while they did push me, I probably could have quit if I wanted. It’s mostly a story of me- how I got stuck doing the things I did less out of pleasure, and more because I had wrapped up so much of my identity in being a good athlete. As I became less excited to play, my performance dipped, and frankly I know now that it changed a lot about who I am. Eventually I spent a lot of my senior year fighting injuries, and my running career ended when I was diagnosed with mono my freshman year of college, before I ever ran a race. I not only quit sports, but I basically quit physical activity. I stopped working out altogether for about seven years, gained a solid 100 pounds, and didn’t take care of myself. That finally stopped in 2009, when a 25 year old me realized I was out of breath from walking up the steps to my office. I finally got a gym membership and lost 30 pounds in the first year. I plateaued there until I started eating healthier and cut back my beer and pizza intake back in 2016. I’ve lost 45 pounds since then and feel much better.

We live in a “winners and losers” culture, and that often overshadows the real value in competing in sports. We take our lessons in the form of trophies and medals, and not as much in the form of what we learn. Nobody gives a shit now whether I won or lost that match back when I was in tenth grade- not my family, nor my friends, not my community, and really not me. Sometimes, especially when we’re competing, we don’t take time to realize the actual important lessons we learned along the way.

So what are some of the lessons I learned from sports that have translated into life? Here’s a few of them:

  • As long as you don’t back up, most referees won’t warn you for stalling. In wrestling, when you don’t do very much to try and score, you can be called for stalling. If you get two stallings, you give up a point. Sometimes you could avoid the referees ire by just staying present in the middle of the mat, and not backing up. Life isn’t a whole lot different. If the people around you think you’re backing up, and you’re not presenting a plan to upgrade, they’ll think you’re not going anywhere. Pushing forward just a bit, or even just remaining present and steadfast where you are, goes a long way to keeping the people in your life happy. People will leave you alone to your business if they think you’re not regressing.
  • Always have a plan, stick to it, and execute. My junior year of high school I ran the mile pretty well. Not well enough to be a state champion or anything, but good enough to score points for the team in most races. Why? I just ran my race. I’d get out with the better runners the first lap, hang in right behind them the second and third lap, then pass everyone I could on the last lap. Sometimes some moron would run way out front that wasn’t supposed to, but I never let that bother me. My job was to hang close enough to score points, and make sure I at least got a third. I knew how to do that. Life isn’t a lot different. You make a plan, you execute, you hope you’re good enough at it to succeed. You can’t get caught up in what others are doing, or panicking that you didn’t prepare well enough. When it’s time, you just execute your plans and try to do them well enough.
  • Small things matter, even tenths of a pound. There is nothing more unforgiving than a scale with your weight, or a stop watch with your time, or the inches a baseball lands foul by. Sports are just like that. By the time you reach high school, the difference isn’t so much physical ability, and that’s even more true at higher levels. The differences are minor, and normally seem to favor the better prepared, more motivated athlete. Sometimes you will miss weight very close, or lose a race by a hundredth of a second, or just miss a home run by feet. That’s not accidental. That usually can be traced to the preparation you put in. The extra lifts you got in during the off-season weren’t “no big deal.” That carries over in life. You know the saying “bad things come in groups?” They do- to people not doing the things they need to be doing at that time.
  • You can’t control what the other guy does. This one is major to me. We live in a society where everyone wants to game the system for a small advantage, and disadvantage their competition. My experience is that doesn’t work very often. The other person is going to do what they do. Nothing you do to get a cheap advantage is going to make you better than a superior competitor, other than to make yourself better. Don’t worry so much about them.

I learned a lot of things from sports that didn’t win me trophies. They probably were more valuable.

Phillies Predictions

Here’s my predictions for the 2019 Phillies:

Record- 92-70

Finish- NL East 2nd, first Wild Card, NL Champs

All-Stars- Aaron Nola, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins

Home Run Leader- Rhys Hoskins 42

Hits Leader- Jean Segura 212

OPS Leader- Bryce Harper .990

Runs Leader- Segura 118

Steals Leader- Odubel Herrera 27

RBI Leader- Hoskins 118

Wins Leader- Aaron Nola 17

ERA Leader- Nola 2.25

Strikeout Leader- Nick Pivetta 215

Innings Leader- Jake Arrieta 208

Saves Leader- Seranthony Dominguez 38

WAR Leader- J.T. Realmuto 6.5

The MLB Season Preview

It’s Opening Day! Well, technically the Seattle Mariners are already up a couple games on the Oakland A’s from last week’s Tokyo games, but for the rest of the league, today’s games mark the beginning. A few things stand out to me on this Opening Day.

  1. Not a single player on an active roster today was playing Major League Baseball in the 20th Century. This means that this season is the first season in which the “steroid era” is officially the past.
  2. Toronto Blue Jays Rule 5 pick Elvis Luciano will become the first player born in the year 2000. Fernando Tatis Jr. made the Padres and is all of 20. Obligatory mention of Acuna and Soto here. Youth is here around baseball.
  3. Bryce Harper’s era in Philadelphia begins today. So does J.T. Realmuto’s, Jean Segura’s, Andrew McCutchen’s, and David Robertson’s. Aaron Nola begins his four year extension. Rhys Hoskins moves back to first base. In short, after their “super team” off-season, the Phillies have their best team since 2011, and are back to contention.
  4. Despite the crazy money that was thrown around this off-season, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel don’t have teams yet. Keuchel who pitched game one of the 2017 World Series, and Kimbrel who was the closer for the 2018 World Series Champions. In a purely baseball world, both could improve literally any roster. But this is a business. We’re seeing that play out here.
  5. Excitement in San Diego! Manny Machado is their’s. Fernando Tatis Jr. is there. They still have the top minor league system in the game.

Overview

Despite the madness of the off-season, what changed in the American League? On paper, Boston and Houston are the best two teams in baseball, still. The New York Yankees line-up and the Cleveland Indians rotation are the best two challenges to those two. Oakland and Tampa Bay have two of the best low-budget squads that one can put together. Those six teams are likely to be the six teams to watch. The Angels could be relevant, and the Twins and White Sox can hope their young talent clicks, but all three are long shots. In Baltimore, Kansas City, Texas, Toronto, Detroit, and Seattle, it’s a rebuilding year at best.

The National League on the other hand is looking pretty wide open. The Dodgers get to enter as favorites, but had a less than inspiring off-season. Watch for the Rockies to give the Dodgers fits. The National League East is looking like a four wide race between Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, and New York. The National League Central is a very compelling race that figures to feature the defending champion Brewers, the recent kingpin Cubs, the heavily improved Cardinals and Reds, and last year’s surprising young Pirates (yes, I’m giving every team in that division a shot). You can argue that every NL city has at least some reason for optimism today, which is rare.

So with that in mind, my predictions…

AMERICAN LEAGUE

East

  1. Boston Red Sox 101-61*
  2. New York Yankees 97-65*
  3. Tampa Bay Rays 94-68*
  4. Toronto Blue Jays 70-92
  5. Baltimore Orioles 61-101

Central

  1. Cleveland Indians 86-76*
  2. Chicago White Sox 76-86
  3. Minnesota Twins 74-88
  4. Detroit Tigers 64-98
  5. Kansas City Royals 60-102

West

  1. Houston Astros 100-62*
  2. Oakland A’s 88-74
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 82-80
  4. Texas Rangers 72-90
  5. Seattle Mariners 68-94

NATIONAL LEAGUE

East

  1. Washington Nationals 94-68*
  2. Philadelphia Phillies 92-70*
  3. Atlanta Braves 88-74
  4. New York Mets 82-80
  5. Miami Marlins 60-102

Central

  1. Milwaukee Brewers 92-70*
  2. St. Louis Cardinals 90-72
  3. Chicago Cubs 85-77
  4. Cincinnati Reds 78-84
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates 76-86

West

  1. Colorado Rockies 91-71*
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers 90-72*
  3. San Diego Padres 74-88
  4. San Francisco Giants 68-94
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks 64-98

PLAYOFFS

Dodgers over the Cardinals in a one game playoff.

AL Wild Card- Yankees over the Rays

NL Wild Card- Phillies over the Dodgers

ALDS- Yankees over the Red Sox 3-2, Astros over the Indians 3-2

NLDS- Phillies over the Nationals 3-1, Brewers over the Rockies 3-2

ALCS- Astros over the Yankees 4-2

NLCS- Phillies over the Brewers 4-3

WORLD SERIES- Astros over the Phillies 4-2

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

AL MVP- Aaron Judge

NL MVP- Nolan Arrenado

AL Cy Young- Chris Sale

NL Cy Young- Max Scherzer

AL Rookie of the Year- Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

NL Rookie of the Year- Fernando Tatis Jr.

AL Manager of the Year- Aaron Boone

NL Manager of the Year- Dave Martinez

Making Sense of Barr, Rosenstein, and Mueller

Donald Trump and his campaign will not be charged with conspiracy to collude with Russia to interfere in our 2016 Election. While the Mueller report makes no final recommendation on charging Trump with obstructing justice, Attorney General Barr will not charge him. Mueller and the Department of Justice have found that Russia did interfere in our election.

Those are the official legal findings as the Mueller investigation ends.

In pure legal terms, Mueller does not believe there was a legal conspiracy between Trump or his campaign, defined as a two-sided agreement, to interfere in our last election. He is not saying Russia didn’t interfere at all. He is rather saying the Trump campaign and candidate weren’t a part of that interference. This may seem odd, since Don Jr. met with Russians about Hillary dirt, and Paul Manafort shared polling data with Russians. Mueller seems to be saying neither had any actual part in the Russian interference though. Perhaps because they were inept, or perhaps because Russia never wanted their help, but they seem to be but a footnote in what he alleges happened.

There is the question of obstruction, which remains more murky and incomplete than it may seem right now. Mueller did not charge Donald Trump or exonerate him on this question, in part because Trump used legitimate Presidential powers to seemingly stonewall the investigation, as well as vague and not-so-vague attacks to intimidate witnesses. With the question left to Barr, who is both a believer in executive power and an appointee of the President. He was never going to charge him, if left with an open question. That’s not the end of the story though.

I tend to believe in and accept Bob Mueller’s findings. With that said, there are still some important questions. Why did Trump associates keep lying about Russia? Did Russian interference determine the outcome in 2016? Did finding out about Russian interference later change Trump’s behavior or policies towards Russia? These aren’t all Mueller’s questions to answer, but they still remain today.

A lot of people on the left seem despondent, and even willing to engage in crazy conspiracy theories over this. It’s important to understand that those conspiracy theories aren’t grounded in any reality. After indicting 37 people, Bob Mueller is certainly not going to cover for anyone. Rod Rosenstein put him in place and supervised him, and doesn’t seem to be a figure who would cover for the Administration. While there are questions about Attorney General Barr, it’s worth noting the obvious here- Congress can subpoena all of these men. Mueller can talk about his report. Barr won’t be afforded cover to lie to Congress. Neither would Rosenstein. The room for anybody to be lying right now is non-existent. The potential exposure is too great.

Which all leads back to where this began- Mueller was never going to indict Trump, nor would Trump’s Department of Justice allow it. The only body with legal oversight of the President’s activities is the Congress. The House Judiciary Committee should call all of these men in to testify about their findings. Mueller can tell us what he found in the first person. I suspect the real question here will be on the judgment of Mueller to not recommend either way on obstruction of justice, and of Barr to say he will not charge the President for it. If the House reaches a different conclusion, after hearing the evidence, then they should act. Even if crimes were found, that committee would have been charged with deciding this then.

The Global Moron Movement

Like most people in December of 2016, I wasn’t happy Donald Trump was going to be President, and hoped somehow it wouldn’t happen. Of course, a month later he was President, and over time I’ve come to realize that was pretty much the only outcome that could happen. Sure, he’s awful in every way, but he was declared the winner under the system of elections that we have in our country. As painful as it was, and for as much damage as Trump will probably do, the best hope for maintaining any legitimacy in our democracy is a resounding 2020 defeat that sends Donald Trump home to Trump Tower, or Mar-a-Lago, or wherever the hell he wants to call home. Rooting for some other outcome is essentially hoping to delegitimize our process in the eyes of some group of voters, which never goes away easily. What’s to stop Trump voters from seeking the same outcome for a future Democratic President over whatever crazy grievances they have?

Let’s be clear here, I am not categorically against impeachment, provided Robert Mueller or another prosecutor accuses Trump of a crime, nor do I disagree with the sentiment of wanting Trump gone. I simply believe we shouldn’t give the appearance of simply wanting to overturn election results that we don’t like. Removing an elected leader because you don’t like them should be the job of elections, in so much as possible. Now to be clear, there is some moral hazard in this position on Trump- our Republican friends spent eight years trying to de-legitimize President Obama as a Kenyan-born “Muslim,” and the last two years ignoring Donald Trump’s failings, which is also behavior that threatens to de-legitimize our democracy. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, and all other attempts to game our electoral system also de-legitimize our democracy. So we’re not dealing with rational, adult actors across the table of American politics from us. If we match their behavior though, the sad truth is that they’ll only go lower, and we’ll continue to chase. At some point, the hellscape we’ll create won’t even be worth saving.

I get that some people don’t care, and I get it- who wants to be the one bringing a knife to a gun fight? This is not purely an American problem, it’s becoming a problem across Western democracies. In the United Kingdom, anti-Brexit forces in Parliament seem fine with no Brexit deal to leave the EU, calling for either a new vote or to just let the carnage hurt every piece of society, if they can’t have their way. Leftists in France are calling for the resignation of popularly elected President Macron, and the implementation of their policy platform- even though the French-left’s candidate lost to Macron in 2017. Right-wing Americans want to send American forces into Venezuela to remove the winner of their last election, and left-wing Americans want us to ostracize Brazil’s new President and his right-wing extremism. Essentially, democracy is only cool if it yields the results we want, otherwise we need to remove the winner.

It is worth noting that many of these elections had irregularities and maybe even outright interference that casts doubt on the outcome. That is a serious problem. If it can be absolutely proven that an election was stolen (as seems clear in NC-09’s Congressional race), an election like that should not be recognized. Short of that, we should make it our mission to insure the fairness of future elections. Invest in ballot security. Break down barriers to citizens voting. Insure that our elections are free and fair, and that all votes count. Trying to overturn elections in the absence of absolute and indisputable proof will only insure Russia’s election of making Americans, and the west in general, doubt our electoral systems. We’d be much better off campaigning in the next election on safeguarding our electoral system for everyone. Basically, I stand with Speaker Pelosi on how we should move forward.

You win some, you lose some. If we dispute every election we don’t win, and try to overturn all of those results, we will do as much to damage the strength of our democracies as anything Vladimir Putin could ever try to do.