The DNC Doesn't Speak for Me in Berkeley

Becky O'Malley
Friday August 10, 2018 - 06:42:00 PM

Summertime, and the living is easy. I’m back from a week in the ever-interesting East, mostly the environs of the District of Columbia, and can reliably report, in the words of yet another classic song, that it’s Too Damn Hot. Otherwise, it’s fine.

The first couple of days were devoted to a family reunion of sorts, what started out as a memorial picnic for my aunt, who died this year in her late 90s. Something like 44 of us turned up, and those were just a subset of my 15-cousin generation and their descendants. I’m proud to report that every one of them more than met my standards for political correctness and right livelihood, and many of them had a sense of humor to boot. This includes both those born into the family and those who simply married into it, though there was a nasty rumor that one spouse had Republican relatives.

I’ve often heard anguished musings about Thanksgivings in other families marred by heated disputes between Trumpoids and Liberals, but I’m happy to say that we don’t seem to have any of the former. This causes me once again to wonder who those other people are, and how they got that way.

I did hear a few hints in my crowd that some had wished for a flashier candidate than Hillary in 2016, but if so they kept it to themselves this week. There’s a remarkable unity of purpose these days among anyone who’s ever voted for a Democrat: Just hold your nose, and pull the Democratic lever. 

My several hundred accumulated emails on my return were a good half of them appeals for funds from Democratic candidates for every November office. Most of what we can do for national candidates here in good ol’ Berkeley is send money, though a respectable number of us are also going to swing districts to ring door bells or making calls from home.  

It’s hard to choose amongst them to allocate my modest favors. I had intended to draw the line at supporting candidates who disavowed Nancy Pelosi, a stupid and even juvenile attitude toward a woman who’s a stone genius regardless of her age. But one of them is the guy who’s running against Devin Nunes, and as much as I deplore lesser-of-two-evil-ism, I can tell the difference between those two. 

Also in my inbox were various items relating to the last stand of the Derriere Garde, the die-hard Bernie-istas who are now enjoying the Jill Stein administration. I lived through the Ralph Nader administration, and I hope to survive this one, but I’m really, really tired of people who can’t do simple math and boast about it. This does not include the ones who concluded that in California a vote for the dippy doctor wouldn’t hurt, but many of those also gave money and encouragement toward contests in states where it did matter, like Michigan. 

Nevertheless, I can also sympathize with those who are pretty fed up with the Democratic National Committee. I did vote dutifully for the DNC presidential candidate in 2016, and I enthusiastically supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. That’s why I’m disappointed that he’s seen fit to reach all the way down into California Assembly District 15 and tell us how to vote.  


The candidate the former President decided to bless is opposed by all the other local Dems who ran against her. I understand that she was a very effective cog in his machine in those two previous elections, and I respect effective political operatives, particularly if they’re on my side, but at some point, sooner rather than later, the national Democratic Party should show some respect for the wisdom of the locals.  

Their relentless top-down style is one reason they lost in 2016. While I think those Michiganders were foolish to vote for Jill Stein, I have no doubt that the ham-handed national Democratic party alienated many left wing voters, as they traditionally have. 

(It probably isn’t as bad as it was when I lived there in the late 60s and early ‘70s, when as I remember a bunch of union thugs who dominated the party then locked a key leftish official in a hotel room to avoid an anti-war vote at the state convention. ) 

California’s insane top-two primary system was promoted by the same bunch of rich libertarian-leaning white guys whose private PAC is now endorsing Obama’s horse in AD15. Top-Two is going to go on wreaking havoc if it’s not changed, not easy to do since it was passed by a ballot initiative.  

What would work a whole lot better is ranked choice voting, which gives those who have a sacramental view of the importance of their personal vote an outlet for their passion. They could flourish their Nader/Stein/Whoever creds with their number one, and then go on to make a real choice that would actually matter with number two.  

It’s hard to imagine a post-November world, and even harder to imagine a post-Trump world, but life will go on here at the bottom regardless of what’s happening in DC. We still need the best government we can get at the local and state levels, and RCV is one tool that’s working in Maine and elsewhere. The time to start trying to change the voting system for this state is now.  

Meanwhile, Berkeley’s already got RCV for the November city elections, so check out all the candidates before you fill out your ballot. All your choices will make a difference.