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Late Night: Winning Isn’t Everything

Bill de Blassio and family

If Tuesday’s elections taught us anything, it’s that triangulating neoliberalism is not only bad policy; it’s bad politics.  As usual, Republicans are left gloating over their New Jersey “landslide” and their near miss in Virginia.  Neither ought to be the case, but the twenty year Clintonian hangover of running insidery “centrists” or worse, abandoning winnable races to Republicans has still not abated, with entirely predictable results.

As Charlie Pierce and others have emphatically pointed out, it was pure political malpractice for Democrats not to throw everything they had at Christie; a man whose cravenness and corruption even turned off Mitt Romney, a man not generally known as a choirboy when it comes to dishonesty and self-dealing.  Now, a guy who represents everything Democrats purportedly oppose is sending thrills up Chris Matthews’ infamous leg, when a few bucks and some courage from the national party could have sidelined him permanently.

Beginning with his teabaggy cancellation of a much-needed transit tunnel to New York and his obnoxious vendetta against teachers, followed by his use of state helicopters (!)  to attend his son’s games and a raft of corrupt manipulations from his earlier career, along with just being a thin-skinned asshole, he was a target as big as the side of a barn.  Metaphorically, too.

Now, he’s basking in the glow of bipartisan adulation once reserved for, well, every other grating, loudmouth righty from the tri-state area in recent memory.  Smooth move, Democrats.

But losing big at the polls isn’t the only way Democrats continue to nurture fragile Republican egos; winning small can be just as effective.  Take Terry McAuliffe, please.  As Virginia is finally settling into what might be a permanent shade of blue,  what better way to put a stop to that than to run a corrupt and widely loathed “Democrat” like Terry McAuliffe, a man of no convictions and fewer scruples, known only as a bagman for corporate cash?  Predictably, the bible-banging teabagger who wanted to outlaw blowjobs, for heaven’s sake, nearly beat him, thus handing Republicans entirely unnecessary whining rights and sacrificing any governing mandate worth having.

Worse, as we saw to our sorrow in 2010, neoliberal nothingburgers tend to get duly walloped by an enraged right vs. a dispirited left in the next election.

In reality, which is of course the opposite realm of where the beltway media live, the real message for Democrats (and their long-suffering supporters) lies in the race for New York City mayor.  De Blasio ran against everything that Democrats have made asses of themselves supporting all these grim years: abusive, militarized policing, fawning over Wall Street and the rich, union-busting, screwing the working poor, and too-cozy relationships between government and entrenched corporate power.

And how did that turn out?  Well, despite universal caterwauling from all the powers that be, de Blasio’s whopping 72% of the vote makes Christie’s victory look like a squeaker.  While whether he is able to fulfill all of his campaign promises remains to be seen, at least he made some, and voters quite evidently loved them.

With that victory, along with a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac, the defeat of a union-busting initiative in (!) Cincinnati, and relaxed marijuana laws in Colorado, Tuesday was a pretty good night for the democratic wing of the Democratic party.  For the other wing, not so much.

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