So I’ve been debating and debating and debating whether to write this post. But then I thought—well, everything on crazydana.com has been my sincere efforts to A. Analyze the upcoming election; and B. Help the Democratic Party wrestle control away from the awful ugliness of Dana Rohrabacher.
So … here I go.
In my time living in Southern California, I feel like I’ve gained a very strong understanding of the 48th District. It’s a weird place, right? Huge, not overly diverse, somewhat set in its ways. You have pockets of progressivism, you have large swaths of angry older whites, you have Dana loyalists and Dana detractors. There are areas where it’d make little sense for a Democrat to campaign, and there are areas ripe to be plucked. I’ve traveled all over the place. I’ve dug in. I’ve studied. I’ve read. I really want a Democrat to steal this thing. Like, I really, really want it.
Here’s what I think. And some of this, truly, sucks:
There are candidates among us who won’t win. I’m not talking about the Boyd Roberts of the world—semi-space cadets with well-intentioned-yet odd nonsensical ramblings. No, I mean legitimately good and decent aspiring public servants who bring (unfairly) baggage to this election. And, to be clear, I would be one of those people. I mean, for a nano-second I considered possibly trying to run. But then I looked myself in the mirror. I’m an uber-liberal Jew from New York with a lifetime of bylines and columns to dissect. I would, simply put, be slaughtered by Dana and his henchmen. So would some others.
Among them …
• Omar Siddiqui: I met with Omar. Great guy. Terrific guy. Wonderful guy. But … he … doesn’t … live … in … the … district. And while the “I have an office here” argument might work in a primary of likeminded Democrats, it will be (wisely and corrected) filleted by the Republicans in a general election. Also—and this sucks so badly I’m loathe to even broach it—Omar Siddiqui’s name and ethnicity are stumbling blocks. This sucks. Like, this sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks. Times 100,000. But, being blunt, to win this district Dana Rohrabacher’s opponent is going to absolutely have to convince a shitload of stubborn white conservative men and women that he is (for lack of a better word) one of them. Is it bullshit? Yes. Is it gross? Yes. Does it bother me? Beyond limits. But it’s also true. Politics is sales, and the sales job in 2018 is telling myriad closed-minded, set-in-their-ways white Californians that there’s something better than Dana. That is an extremely hard sell even if everything goes well.
• Hans Keirstead: Hans is a bad candidate. It’s all you hear from people; sort of the shock of the election cycle. He entered with the wind to his back, and it’s all been downhill since. The exaggerations. The woodenness. But the one thing that’s really damning (and, again, it sounds silly in isolation) is that Hans was born in Canada. Yes, it’s an absolutely inane reason not to vote for someone. But if I’m Dana Rohrabacher, and I’m on the ropes, and I see this Canadian man with a strange name standing across from me, I’m all over it. I paint him as an outsider who doesn’t share the 48th values. And, sadly, people will buy it. They’ll eat it up. We humans are a sad species. We truly are.
• Laura Oatman: I think Laura would make a tremendous congresswoman. I truly do. But the other day I was at an area party, and a couple of longtime Democrats were in attendance. They asked what I thought of the race, and I mentioned the two or three leading candidates—Laura among them. One guy said, snidely, “The health woman?” And I knew exactly what he meant … because it’s occurred to me, too. Again, it’s bullshit and stupid and ugly. But Oatman, the owner of a health/wellness business, Whole Earth Wellness, is an easy target. Republicans love painting Democrats as feel-good, granola-eating wusses. And, regrettably, it works. And works. And works. I think it would work here, too. As much as I hate that. As much as Laura’s resume sparkles.
There’s a truth hanging over this election, and it sucks: We are underdogs. Huge underdogs. If you thought Donald Trump’s approval rating would be at 17 percent right now … well, it’s not. If you thought Dana would decide not to run—well, he is. He’s loaded with money and he boasts the underrated power of incumbency and name recognition. We all know he’s an ineffective idiot. The vast majority of voters, though, just see him as the name on the ballot. The known name.
Worst of all, nobody knows our candidates. I mean, “nobody” is a stretch. But Laura Oatman and Harley Rouda and Hans and Omar and all the others … they’re not household names. Or even known names. People haven’t been paying attention. So as we’ve built the case against Dana Rohrabacher, the folks who need to listen are, largely, at the beach, watching waves. It’s the simple reality.
And here’s the other simple reality: To win this election, we probably need a straightforward white moderate businessman or businesswoman. For the 1,000th time, I hate this. I want to make that clear—I hate this. Hell, I’m a Jewish liberal. My all-time favorite political figures include Barack Obama, Harvey Milk, Joe Biden, John Lewis, Ruth Ann Minner, Doug Wilder. But in order to have a shot to swing the district, everything has to go perfectly. We have to grab Dana’s voters while making him look diminished and inept. It’s about optics as much as it’s about policy.
Feel free to bash me for this. It’s not a post that brings me joy.
But I believe it to be true.
PS: One last thing. I’m noticing, with increased frequency, candidates slinging yang about opponents behind their backs. Hell, I’ve had multiple Democrats complain to me about X, or urge me to write negatively on Y.
My advice: Stop it. Worry about yourselves and your campaigns. Don’t talk shit about fellow Democrats—even if you hate them.