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Elsewhere, I've had the temerity to offer some proposals for how the Democratic Congree might help get America back on track, even despite Republican obstructionism and presidential vetoes.  

Now I'd like to present two that are urgently related to this present primary season.

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First: Democrats (especially Barack Obama) should start laying down rhetorical points in case of a terror attack or other major disaster, between now and November.

Second: There are five distinct reasons why the "Florida and Michigan problem" can only be solved by calling fresh caucuses.  Indeed, this imbroglio can be turned from a lemon into fantastically beneficial lemonade.  

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--------Suggestion #1  Preparing for the worst----

What are the odds that America will suffer some kind of major attack or catastrophe, during the run-up to our national elections in November?

Yes, it sounds paranoid.  But bear with me.  Whether or not you have a penchant for conspiracy theories, a basic fact is that it would take something huge -- perhaps devastating -- to pull the Republicans' hash out of this fire they have made.  So, why not take out a little bit of insurance, by preparing the mental landscape just a little?  

One doesn't have to envision this as part of a plot.  After all, our present leaders have been screeching this very possibility in our ears, declaring "emergency!" (largely as an excuse to cancel normal contracting rules) for most of a decade.  Shall we not take them at their word and at least prepare, just a little?

It is vital for a mental and spiritual bulwark be established, to ensure that any such tragedy will not benefit those who brought America into this mess. Just a few basic talking points could provide that bulwark.  Especially if someone like Barack Obama were to go on record that:

  1. Urban America knows it is in the cross-hairs, and that "it is not a matter of if, but when" we will take another big hit.  At one level, we are all citizens first.  We are firm in our resolve to stand by each other.  To not let our nation or its values be changed.
  1. In any event, we can be assured that the next victims will respond with the same resilience that was shown by citizens of New York, Washington, Boston and Pennsylvania, back on September 11, 2001, a day when empowered citizenship made all the difference.
  1.  The scandalous decline in U.S. readiness must be reversed.  Bill Clinton left George W. Bush 30 fully ready brigades, we now have none.  Not even one. The list goes on and on. It will be a campaign issue!  But establishing the point early will make any summertime attack our issue, not theirs.  
  1.  Even leaving out such specifics, some general, rhetorical riffs about "fear vs resilience" would give people across the nation a resonant feeling, that any sudden emergency will be yet another a reason to choose change, not a cause to cling to bad leadership.

It isn't too early to be saying these things, or to be erecting thoughts of firmness in the minds of our fellow citizens.  Indeed, if these notions are erected, it may help to prevent such a dire event from happening, at all.

If you get my drift.

------ Suggestion #2  The importance of being caucused -----

I am really hoping that the Democrats will decide to hold fresh caucuses, in Michigan and Florida.  It is by-far a better solution than either disenfranchising those states at the convention, or else seating disputed delegations.

  1. Spur-of-the-moment caucuses would be laborious, but not terribly onerous to hold.  Especially in a year when volunteers can be had simply by opening a door.
  1. All bitterness or fairness issues, leftover from the earlier disbarring of Florida and Michigan results, would vanish.  People in those states should be thrilled to be given a last-minute chance to be the most important deciders in a close race.
  1. Anyway, most democrats and independents simply did not vote, in those earlier events. Hundreds of thousands were told their votes wouldn't count. In Michigan, only one major and one minor candidate were on the ballot.  Seating a delegation so-selected would simply be a travesty.   (As one of you said: "Senator Clinton will almost certainly STILL win Florida. It's loaded with her strongest Demographics. That's fine. But let's have a fair process.")
  1. Who could turn down the chance to throw a vast "Democratic Party Festival" in two states that will be vital in November?  In fact, two that were pivotal the last two presidential elections?

What a fantastic opportunity!  Just by throwing these caucuses... and letting independents come too... Democrats could create unbeatable buzz and momentum, causing many crossover voters to identify with the general movement... and incidentally benefiting candidates for state and local offices, across both states.  

Indeed, the caucuses needn't cost very much.  This year?  Simply ask the people of Florida and Michigan for donations to pay for it!  Ask.  You shall receive.

  1. However much energy Hillary and Barack pour into organizing in those two states, both of the  resulting volunteer pools would be available to serve as ground troops, when they are needed in November.

These advantages are simply overwhelming.

In contrast, the fact that Obama does better at caucuses may tempt Hillary to try to seat the earlier-selected, highly questionable delegations.  This will be divisive and bitterly resented.  Especially since there is an alternative, one that has a general correlation with fairness.

Originally posted to David Brin on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 09:54 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  do you write sci fi? (3+ / 0-)

    if so, i've read it.

  •  Recommended (5+ / 0-)

    I love your Uplift series.  

    What's your next book?

    January 20. 2009 cannot come soon enough.

    by Crisis Corps Volunteer on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:06:26 PM PST

  •  So ... which part of the party machine gets to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anotherdemocrat, UnaSpenser

    say "Do it!" or not? Give me someone to lobby!

    •  If Obama and Clinton both agreed to support (0+ / 0-)

      re-scheduled primaries for FL & MI I cannnot see anyone else stopping it.

      If they stood together on a podium and announced their agreement on this ALL Democrats would rejoice in the resulting unity and kumbaya-feelings amongst Democrats.

      Considering the people HRC chose to run her campaign, we should be afraid (very afraid) if she ends up choosing Cabinet officials.

      by Bill White on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:35:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's the money (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        anotherdemocrat

        FL Dems say it will take $8 million for a do-over. The DNC is only offering to reimburse $880,000. I heard the FL chair on TV literally laughing at the idea the state party would pay for it.

        That seems like a lot of money for a do-over, but I haven't seen any actual cost data. I suspect shelling out $16 million in the run-up to a general election could be pretty hard for the DNC.

        "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

        by carolita on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:17:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Obama & Clinton should offer $3 million each (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          anotherdemocrat

          The national media attention they would get would be very substantial. A draw in the fight for the nomination but the coverage would swamp John McCain.  

          Or maybe Oprah and Streisand could contribute $1 million each to help defray the costs.

          Considering the people HRC chose to run her campaign, we should be afraid (very afraid) if she ends up choosing Cabinet officials.

          by Bill White on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:27:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  David Brin responds.... (21+ / 0-)

    Yes, that's me.  Hope you like the science fiction.  I will be relieved when my worries over civilization in the short term will ebb, letting me get back to worrying about little things like destiny and the future and all that!

    Fight for the Enlightenment.

    Things to repeat: "CITOKATE -- Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote to Error." "IAAMOAC -- I Am A Member of a Civilization"

    by David Brin on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:08:04 PM PST

    •  yes, very much. speculative fiction in all its (3+ / 0-)

      forms has always been  a favorite.  Enjpyed your post as well.  Thanks for your thoughts.

    •  Tip jar (0+ / 0-)

      Good job.

      You make some really good points.  Not to be a conspiracy junkee, but I have been seeing some stirrings of "Oh, my god the world is going to end if we don't elect a Republican this November" as an issue.

      Let's face this head on.

      January 20. 2009 cannot come soon enough.

      by Crisis Corps Volunteer on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:11:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you'd set up a scenario like the one we've (4+ / 0-)

      lived through with Bush and the total failure to confront him based on the complete descent into fear of a huge number of Americans after 9/11, I would have thought the premise so unlikely that I'd have quit part-way through.  I never have quit any of your books though, you are a very gifted writer (though I suspect the toil involved makes the word "gift" inaccurate).

      "I said, 'wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man.'" Robbie Robertson -8.13, -4.56

      by NearlyNormal on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:15:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cool! (0+ / 0-)

      BTW - Huge fan of "The Postman". Not a snarky comment on the Costner fiasco...I loved it when it started as a series of short stories in IASFM. Great book.

    •  One of the best 'alien' themed series (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anotherdemocrat

      I own, is The Uplift War, and I have a lot (an entire wall of my living room, floor to ceiling, some shelves stacked three paperback deep).  You're one of the authors I read now just because your name is on the spine at the bookstore.

      Oh, yeah, I'm a bookaholic, I freely admit it.  I don't just read them, I buy them - and keep them.

      I long for the day when my books are, once more, scarier than my President.

       

      Universal health care for citizens, think of it as an Endangered Species Act for Homo Sapiens.

      by Angie in WA State on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 12:31:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What do you mean by this comment? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yoduuuh do or do not

    Yes, it sounds paranoid.  But bear with me.  Whether or not you have a penchant for conspiracy theories, a basic fact is that it would take something huge -- perhaps devastating -- to pull the Republicans' hash out of this fire they have made.  So, why not take out a little bit of insurance, by preparing the mental landscape just a little?

    Are you a 9/11 conspiracy theorist?  

    It's not the tragedies that kill us; it's the messes--Dorothy Parker

    by Libertaria on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:09:15 PM PST

    •  Conspiracy Theories Can Extend to the Fairly Mild (3+ / 0-)

      end of LIHOP, most plausibly I'd think for critical parts of a potential alert that tiny numbers of individuals in key positions to identify patterns or relay them.

      Nobody serious thinks the Vatican or the leadership of anti abortion organizations go out murdering obgyn's. But in the highly emotional environment they set up, if you run an abortion clinic you'd be almost criminally irresponsible not to guard against somebody being actively involved in doing you ill.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:32:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If nothing else, I think we can agree (0+ / 0-)

      that few, if any, in history have done more to advance the cause and recruiting efficiency of terrorists than our current President.

      His administration has been such a boon for the oil industry (and the nations that spawn islamic terrorists) and for the terrorists that elude us, it seems quite likely that they would attack at a moment that would affect the elections.

      McCain will continue the war and the destruction of our military, continually weakening our ability to respond to other threats.

      So it need not be a conspirancy when our Republican policies are so beneficial to the terrorist organizations.

  •  Disenfranchise FL and MI TWICE? Thrice? (0+ / 0-)

    Caucuses are undemocratic.  If Obama was losing because of them we'd have a thousand diaries a day about how undemocratic they are.

    Plus, it also says any voter from FL or MI is only worth half a voter.  Reminds one of 2/3's of a person arguments, doesn't it?

    Will Obama suggest similar do-overs when he becomes President?  Oops, I bombed the wrong country!  Do-over!

    I am neither bitter nor cynical but I do wish there was less immaturity in political thinking. -- FDR

    by Moresby on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:11:37 PM PST

    •  i thought they disenfranchised themselves... (0+ / 0-)

      and...if Obama were losing caucuses, he wouldn't be in the race anymore.  if...then arguments are always kinda silly.

      •  Idiotic (0+ / 0-)

        It's very easy to guess what would happen, look at all the diaries about Super Delegates.  We all know the caucus system is one of many undemocratic aspects to nomination process, as are Super Delegates.

        The caucus system in only allowable in the US because political party's are private institutions, otherwise they'd be declared unconstitutional.

        But just because it's allowed doesn't make it democratic or right.  

        I am neither bitter nor cynical but I do wish there was less immaturity in political thinking. -- FDR

        by Moresby on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:26:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You want Democratic unity after the nomination? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, yoduuuh do or do not

      Re-schedule MI & FL either as caucuses or elections.

      If the Florida and Michigan legislaure refuses to cooperate use THAT as a general election hammer.

      If Obama and Clinton held a kumbaya press conference tomorrow and announced their agreement to re-schedule MI & FL the eventual winner wil be FAR better positioned to promote the unity we need to crush John McCain in November.

      Considering the people HRC chose to run her campaign, we should be afraid (very afraid) if she ends up choosing Cabinet officials.

      by Bill White on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:33:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Empowered? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, shigeru

    September 11, 2001, a day when empowered citizenship made all the difference

    Can you give some actual examples of empowered citizenship making all the difference on 9/11? There were acts of kindness and good neighborliness - I witnessed that. And there were civilians already at the scene who showed great courage. But in what way were these good people empowered as citizens?

    I've read accounts of bravery shown and kindnesses done by prisoners in concentration camps. And they were not empowered (except by their own human decency) nor were they considered any longer to be citizens.

    songwriters don't need to eat - so why not 'share' all the files you want

    by jabney on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:30:46 PM PST

  •  Thinking terror response great idea (6+ / 0-)

    Your point about getting out ahead on terror is inspired.  Even if the White House raises the terror alert and nothing else happens, by having already begun to address the issue, the Dems would look good.

    Secondly, you urge us to repeat I am a member of a civilization.  I live 4 blocks from DC--I feel like I am a member of a rapidly declining civilization.

    PS
    On the weekends my Dad told me sci-fi stories to get me to take my naps when I was little. As an adult I have bought the Uplift Series many times for Christmas presents.

  •  It does seem to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk

    that we need to preempt the possibility that if something does happen between now and November, that it becomes the trump card for Republicans in the election.

    Perhaps talking points about whether urban citizens really feel that readiness has improved with this administration. Followed with ideas for what readiness would like under a new administration.

    Also, talking points about whether intelligence gathering and analysis has improved. The recent rounds of "Iran is going nuclear", "Well, no it's not" stuff is perfect fodder for suggesting imcompetence, is it not? This would have to be followed with a plan for how the Democratic nominee would re-organize intelligence operations.

    One of the goals here would to be frame it so that if there is an attack between now and November, it's because the Republicans haven't done a good enough job preventing and preparing.

    And maybe some stuff about how foreign relations are or aren't being handled and what might be done to garner more participation from other governments for preventing more attacks. I've been waiting to hear Obama give hints about he might have insights into forging relations that motivate moderate Muslims to drown out the influence of extremists. Not sure he has them, but I wonder.....

  •  I am from Michigan (2+ / 0-)

    and if Hillary just grabs her delegates from the past primary and uses them, I WILL be bitter as you said.  Very, very bitter.  

    I feel cheated by my party.  You make good points for a do over...thanks!!!

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat Wednesday evenings 8 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:42:18 PM PST

  •  For Do-Over success (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yoduuuh do or do not

    I think the State parties have to acknowledge that they did their voters a disservice. This can defuse the national dissension within the party about blaming the candidates for their misuse of the voters.

    The state parties could then help promote the do-over process as a boon due to the enormous importance of the outcomes in these states.

  •  I'm Going to Be a Little... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yoduuuh do or do not

    ...surprised if there is an election in November. (Not that it matters.)

    Color me in hues of a global strategist.

    __________________
    Fascism ought to more properly be called Corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power. - Mussolini

    by Pluto on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:30:51 PM PST

  •  Naomi Klein says Disaster Shock requires (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cathy Willey

    ideas to already being laying around only needing the right leadership to articulate them.  Dems have been to slow to prepare for the unthinkable.  Whereas the neocons said we need a Pearl Harbor to implement this and were prepared to make any incident a credible pearl harbor.

  •  David Brin replies... (5+ / 0-)
    1. I am not a 9/11 conspiracy fetishist.  In fact, the "loose change" idiots prove that fanatical dopiness exists at all ends of the spectrum.  (Alas, in the GOP it is a central tenet of faith.)

    But it is vital to cover all the angles.  A summer catastrophe is the one way this election might be up-ended, whether it was intended for that purpose or not.  Shall we not say prudent things to prevent panic and call upon the best in all of us?

    1.  Jabney, can you truly not envision the HUNDREDS of ways that 9/11 was the most glorious day of citizen action?  Not a single action performed by our professional protectors worked, that day, but amateur/citizen action worked dozens of ways.  

    You really must look up:
    http://www.futurist.com/...

    Things to repeat: "CITOKATE -- Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote to Error." "IAAMOAC -- I Am A Member of a Civilization"

    by David Brin on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:32:51 PM PST

  •  True statements (0+ / 0-)

    but bad politically, I'm afraid.

    If I recall my exit polls correctly, Clinton has a very strong lead among those who consider national security a top issue.  Indeed, she tried to attack Obama on this issue with some statement along the lines of "if there's a terrorist attack, who do you want to be president".  So I don't expect Obama to bring up an issue where he sees his opponent as having a natural advantage.

    On the other hand, for Hillary to make comments as you suggest naturally leads into the issue of why our national guard is depleted, i.e. her vote for war.  She'd also be accused of using "the politics of fear," which is what happened with her previous statement.

  •  Brin replies... (4+ / 0-)

    Good points.

    Only this is all the more reason why Obama whould move, assertively, into this zone.

    He also really needs the right give of VP choice.  Someone who can look McCain in the eye as a far BETTER soldier, administrator, diplomat and adult, filling in every Obama gap.

    I really hope you all will ponder the advantages of reassuring the country about defense and security with a man who is nevertheless a true democrat -- Wes Clark.

    Things to repeat: "CITOKATE -- Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote to Error." "IAAMOAC -- I Am A Member of a Civilization"

    by David Brin on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 12:08:27 AM PST

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      that Gen. Clark is a man who knows the military.

      But his last foray into politics betrayed his lack of charisma - a necessary ingredient in a politician.

      I'd offer up Jim Webb (D) Virginia as an alternative to Clark.  His background, oddly enough, is much the same.

      Both are career military men and served in uniform with valour. Both, I believe, are previously republicans. Both appear to believe that the Bush Administration has damn near brought our democracy down.

      You have to admit that Jim Webb presents an idea with more passion than Wes Clark ever managed, and that is a quality that's actually needed in a politician.  

      Just picture any debate from the 2004 race (Clark), then imagine you're listening to Jim Webb's democratic response to the State of the Union last year.

      All due respect to Gen. Clark, but for me, the better choice, by far, would be Jim Webb.

      Universal health care for citizens, think of it as an Endangered Species Act for Homo Sapiens.

      by Angie in WA State on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 12:51:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Jim Webb (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        anotherdemocrat

        likes to spy on us.  That disqualifies him from my consideration.  He is effective as a Senator of a red state.  Let him remain there.

        We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately. - Benjamin Franklin -5.13/-3.38

        by Grannus on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 01:33:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wes Clark as VP... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cathy Willey, anotherdemocrat

      I think I like that ticket.  I can't fault your logic.  Obama has strong cred on social issues with his history in state and federal government, but I have to agree with you, he needs something to stack up against McCains military cred.

      I think we might have had the same literary agent for some non-fiction stuff back in the late 90's.  I seem to remember my agent mentioning your name.

      Later,

      Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

      by protothad on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 01:24:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the Life Afrer People (0+ / 0-)

    show on the History Channel - watched it twice - you made me laugh when you said the cockroaches would mourn our passing.

  •  David Brin responds... (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks.  And cool.

    Oh, for those who liked me on "Life After People"...

    "The Architechs"  was a boldly innovative show (http://htyp.org/The_ArchiTECHS) that challenged "five geniuses" to solve an impossible design problem in 48 hours.   In the first pilot (which hasn't aired) a four-star general challenged our design team to come up with a 21st Century replacement for the Humvee. (A design far better than the awful MRAP.)

    The second pilot - which aired October 2006 - saw former FDNY Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, one of the heroes of 9/11, call upon the group to innovate more than a dozen new fire rescue and evacuation tools for skyscraper disasters.    

    Copies can be ordered from the HC web site. http://store.aetv.com/...

    Now back to saving civilization.... ;-)

    Things to repeat: "CITOKATE -- Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote to Error." "IAAMOAC -- I Am A Member of a Civilization"

    by David Brin on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 10:13:01 AM PST

  •  The problem with holding new caucuses... (0+ / 0-)

    ... is that doing so rewards Michigan and Florida for breaking the rules, by making them the critical decision makers in a hotly contested election. They moved their primaries up in violation of the rules in order to gain influence, and hosting fresh caucuses in both states will net them exactly that - whole weeks of time where both candidates will be focused entirely on those two states and those two states alone, with their delegates likely being the ones that settle the contest.

    Despite this, I think you're right insofar as the fresh caucus idea is much better than any of the other ideas being floated out there.

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