Lessons for Democrats from the RNC

RNC 2016The most important takeaway is that the GOP is now Donald Trump’s party. This may seem minor, but it’s critical to understanding what will be necessary for the upcoming general election cycle: the rules are different.

You may have noticed that the mainstream media referred to the Republican National Convention as “Donald Trump’s Convention” instead of “The Republican Convention” or “The RNC Convention.” Next week is not “Hillary Clinton’s Convention” — it is “The Democratic National Convention.” No convention has ever before been personalized this way. The importance relates to how the cycle will be covered, and intimates that Donald will continue to be covered differently from anyone ever.

Note that the first night of the convention, while the mother of a soldier lost in Benghazi was speaking, Donald called into Fox, and they preempted her speech to speak with him.

Zachary Taylor, People's Candidate for President and Millard Fillmore, Whig Candidate for Vice-President (N. Currier, June 1848)

Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore, Whig Candidates for for President and Vice President, respectively. (N. Currier, June 1848)

A cautionary tale for the party comes from more than 150 years ago. Read about Zachary Taylor. Seriously, read the link. Read it now. It’s really important.

Welcome back. Now you know the future.

Plagiarism is not a big deal to the Trump campaign.

I don’t blame Melania. She read off a teleprompter. She’s likely done very little, if any, public speaking and thus the speechwriters had nothing to work from relative to inclusions or tone.

But they could have Googled the speech, line by line, to check it. Plagiarism will get you tossed out of school: it’s a big deal. Intellectual property still matters.

The campaign is too green, too unprofessional to know any better. Then they spent 38 hours being unable to answer properly to the problem. Finally, they blamed an employee of the Trump organization.

If she was the one who wrote the speech, and she did it on company time, that’s an FEC violation. Campaigns cannot commingle monies or paid personnel between a company and the campaign, nor political offices and the campaign.

Speaking of breaking laws…

New Hampshire State Representative Al Baldasaro said in an interview that Hillary Clinton “should be put on the firing line and shot for treason.” The Secret Service is investigating. Baldasaro is a veterans’ adviser to Donald, who in no way distanced himself from the quote.

There was a lot of Hillary bashing at the RNC, and very little “Donald-is-good-because-XYZ” (except from his kids!!!) or “I support Donald because he stands for ABC.” The crowd in the arena, who are his voters, loved it.  Going forward, this means they’re for him, not his positions, nor his actions. It doesn’t matter to them, which makes our job that much harder.

Ted Cruz isn’t coming around.

Ted Cruz spoke, didn’t endorse, and was booed. More importantly, Ken Cuccinelli had to walk Heidi Cruz off the floor because she was in danger of being physically assaulted. Shows you what kind of people are Trump supporters.

Only 23 people were arrested.

There are 5,500 law enforcement types around the convention, but only 23 people were arrested. This compares to the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia where over 300 people were arrested. This is probably due to the huge security area around the arena keeping people far away from cameras.

What does this all mean?

First, the Democrats are not running against the Republicans; they are running against Zachary Taylor, and that didn’t work well for the good guys. (Except Millard Fillmore, who was a terrible president, but great in many other regards.)

It means every Jill Stein defection is a vote for Donald Trump.

It means they need to campaign differently up and down the ballot.

It means “I’m too busy” is not a valid excuse this September, October and November.

It means someone with no interest in running the country will end up running the country after having campaigned on no platform other than banning Muslims and building a wall.

The Politics of Transportation for the #DNC

PhiladelphiaWelcome to Philadelphia. We actually threw snowballs at Santa Claus. We’re the fifth rudest city in America. Our foods are cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. It’s Philly. But we worked hard to get the DNC here, and we should be trying to put our best foot forward. But, as I said, it’s Philly. [Read more…]

Meet the #DNC Delegates: Anna Payne

Anna PayneAnna Payne is an elected delegate for Bernie Sanders from Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District. She works for a credit union. Anna lives in Middletown Township, Bucks County with her mom and stepdad, a dog and a cat.

DocJess: When did you decide you wanted to be a delegate?

Anna Payne: Back in 2012, I watched the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, and thought it was very interesting and cool, and I was curious about the people on the floor and the roles they played. I thought that to get there, you’d have to know someone. I was in college majoring in Political Science, and one of my courses had a class about delegates, what they do and what the different processes were in various states to become a delegate. I learned that most of the delegates are pledged to a candidate. I started doing research on how the process works here in Pennsylvania. It’s a long process, but I knew I was up to the challenge!

I worked on the Obama Campaign in 2012 and joined my local Democratic Party in 2014. I stayed involved with the committee and once I found out that 2016 convention was to be held in Philadelphia, I thought “that’s perfect” and I knew I had to try to become a delegate.

DJ: What made you decide to become a Bernie Sanders delegate?

AP: Bernie was a no-brainer for me. He’s my guy. I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008, I thought then that Obama was the better candidate, but I looked at both Sanders and Clinton. I had been following Bernie on Facebook before he became a candidate, and once he announced, I thought that he had better ideas than she did on the issues that matter to me. I could tell he really cares, for him this wasn’t a career move, this was for the future.  When he talks, he talks from the heart, he actually gives a damn.  He wants to change the system, he is honest, and he has integrity and that is refreshing.

DJ: Did you go to the Sanders organizing meeting?

AP: I missed the Philadelphia meeting because it snowed, and then when they rescheduled it, I had to work. But I had already gone to the Pennsylvana Democratic Committee meeting in Doylestown in December explaining how people could become delegates. They covered information about petitions, signatures and the whole process. So I went online and applied with the state, and I also filled out an application on the Sanders campaign website. I wasn’t taking any chances, so I also sent a letter to the Vermont headquarters. The campaign approved me after both my application and receiving my information passed on by the state.

DJ: How was running for delegate?

AP: First I had to get on the ballot. Once I found out that the time for signatures was only two-and-a-half weeks, I thought, “You want me to do what? I work a full time job.” I hosted a signing party at my house that I advertised via social media, and that was a big help. Plus, I went to different Democratic meetings and house parties. I couldn’t have gotten the signatures I needed without the help of my family and friends. All the Bernie delegates for our district also worked together to help each other out, without their assistance. I don’t know if I would have obtained the magic number needed in time.  Luckily none of my signatures were challenged. In my CD, I don’t think either campaign challenged anyone, and that the campaigns were really fair to one another.

DJ: Did you campaign after getting on the ballot?

AP: I certainly did. I used Facebook, Twitter, other social media, recruited poll volunteers. I went to all sorts of Democratic meetings in the district, plus I worked through the Bernie campaign. Also, I became a Middletown Committeewoman.

DJ: You made it. Congratulations! What are you looking forward to at the convention?

AP: I’m very excited! This is my first convention. I look forward to playing a role in shaping the party, and the future of the party. Really having an impact on history and the future. Looking forward to everything since I’ve never done any of it before.

DJ: Are you going to vote for Hillary Clinton if she’s the candidate?

AP: I might vote for Hillary, I probably will, but the convention is not over yet. What will the platform ideas be that the party formally adopts? In order for people like me to feel our voices matter to the party, we need to see Bernie’s ideals adopted. The ones that we supported him for: Hillary has to reach out to us. She recently embraced part of Bernie’s idea for free college tuition. If she keeps trying to at least meet us halfway, and abandons her old ways, like big donors, then that will make people feel better about supporting the party in the fall.

DJ: I read today that Clinton came out for lowering the age for Medicare to 50 or 55 as part of Obamacare. Is that the sort of thing you mean?

AP: I would like to see a bigger step then lowering the age to 50, that doesn’t help me any. I have Cystic Fibrosis and that is why universal health care is so important for me. I get insurance through work, but I have a $6,000 deductible. For me, healthcare is a really big deal. I’m a fan of the Affordable Care Act since now I can’t be denied because I have Cystic Fibrosis, and there are no caps on insurance payments. The ACA does a lot of good but it doesn’t go far enough, and one of Bernie’s ideas is basically Medicare-for-all. The ACA does a lot of good things, but there are so many people left out. I lecture and fund-raise for Cystic Fibrosis organizations. I see so many people using Go Fund Me for lung transplants, people with Cystic Fibrosis who can’t get married because they’ll lose Medicaid. I’m currently receiving Medicaid as a supplement that I pay a premium for. I’m terrified to cap out wage wise, and I often wonder what would happen if I get married, as the Medicaid is my safety net.  Somebody needs to do something about this, and it’s a big reason I support Bernie Sanders. He really understands.

DJ: Do you plan on staying involved with politics after the convention?

AP: Absolutely. I think it’s very important to get involved and stay involved: the only way that things will every change is if people get in involved, stay involved and stand up. I think people are more aware of primaries, caucuses, elections and candidates since this year’s elections season. I’m involved with CF: I make speeches and raise money, and I plan to do the same going forward with politics. You can’t just vote and think things will change, you cannot just sit on the sidelines. This fall I plan to work for candidates up and down the ticket.

DJ: Do you want to run for office?

AP: It’s a dream of mine. But a lot it depends on my health.

DJ: The convention costs are high. How are you covering them?

AP: I hadn’t realized how much it would cost or that I’d have to stay at the hotel. I’d planned on staying on a friend’s couch. I have a Go Fund Me account. I don’t have enough money yet, but I’m working on it. I was part of a Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser in June, and I’m hoping those donors will give to this, too.

DJ: What’s your Go Fund Me account?

AP: https://www.gofundme.com/2cjjzw4c

DJ: Any final thoughts?

AP: Just to reiterate: don’t stay on the sidelines, get involved.  I hope this election as taught us all to do our research about our candidates, I know our lives are busy but our future is important.  As Americans we are lucky to be able to vote,  and no the system is not perfect,  but if more of us start to pay attention do our research and get involved we can make a huge difference.

See our full series of delegate interviews.

Things to do in Philadelphia During #DNC (Even if You aren’t Credentialed)

The Peoples ConventionMany of the events that will occur during the convention are open to everyone. First, there is a parallel convention called the People’s Convention. It’s being run by the People’s Revolution. Their kick-off event is Saturday morning, 23 July.

dnc2016For those of you looking for DNC events, there are meetings and caucuses all day at the Convention Center, beginning on Sunday 24 July.  Many are open to the public, although most require pre-registration. In addition, independent groups are holding functions in Center City, beginning the same day.  There are upwards of 30 events every day,  Many of these events are free, although some are not.  See the full listing.

Meet the #DNC Delegates: Chuck Pennacchio

CHUCK PENNACCHIOIn the interest of full disclosure, Chuck and I have worked on a number of issues together over the past decade, and met through Healthcare4AllPA.

Chuck Pennacchio is an elected delegate for Bernie Sanders from Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District, having received the most votes in the April 26 primary. He is a lifelong political activist, educator, and filmmaker. He lives in Plumsteadville, Bucks County, with his wife and two children.

DocJess: When did you decide to support Bernie?
[Read more…]

Meet the #DNC Delegates: Stephanie Markstein

Stephanie MarksteinIn the interest of full disclosure, Stephanie and I have worked on a number of campaigns together over the past decade.

Stephanie Markstein is an At-Large Delegate representing Bernie Sanders. She is chairwoman of the West Chester Democratic Committee, an elected position. Stephanie is also a singer-songwriter and a yoga teacher/personal trainer.

DocJess: So, Stephanie, is this your first time as a delegate?

Stephanie Markstein: Yes, I am a rookie delegate, and I’m very excited.

DJ: How did you get to become a delegate? [Read more…]

Meet the #DNC Delegates: Sabrina Fedrigo

sabrinaIn the interest of full disclosure, I have known Sabrina since she was a child.

Sabrina Fedrigo is a Bernie Sanders delegate from Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District. She is a college student and part-time nanny. She lives in Collegeville with her boyfriend, their two dogs, three cats and a chinchilla.

DocJess: When did you first decide to support Bernie Sanders?

Sabrina Fedrigo: Back in July 2015, I was only really hearing about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and I didn’t think either of them really represented my values. I took the “I Side With” quiz, and found I was aligned with Bernie Sanders. Then I researched him and found he spoke truth about education and income inequality. I really respect him for speaking the truth on important issues. I started going to the local organizing meetings and I applied to be a delegate. I was chosen as one of the candidates to run for delegate at an organizing meeting in Philadelphia in January of this year.

DJ: What was your experience running to get on the ballot? [Read more…]

Will the IRS Screw #PHLDNC?

dnc2016While the Cleveland host committee for the RNC has been granted tax-exempt 501(c)3 status, the Philadelphia Host Committee has not. While the Committee applied in May of 2015, and the approval process normally takes about three months, as of 1 July 2016, the IRS “has issues with it of some sort”. (Philadelphia Inquirer, July 3, 2016, page A3.)

The IRS said that the issues are “technical” but gave no details. The IRS requires of a host committee that it spend money for infrastructure projects outside the convention hall.  It appears that the preparation of the Wells Fargo Center, transportation costs and technology might fall under that since they would benefit Philadelphia.

The goal was to raise $60 million, of which $46.5 million would be in cash, and the rest in-kind. $10 million is expected from the state of Pennsylvania, and currently, there is a $4 million gap. Here’s the rub. If the committee cannot get 501(c)3 status, it would convert to a 501(c)6 status. That’s a designation used for business leagues and chambers of commerce and the like. If they do, any monies coming from businesses would be deductible as business expenses, but money from individuals would not be deductible nor tax exempt.

It is an incredible irony that the GOP, ostensibly the party of corporatism, has full tax-exemption, and the Democratic Party, ostensibly the party of the people, may only be able to offer the benefit to corporations.