In a Quandary about the Election? Vote for a Real Yaller Dawg

Becky O'Malley
Friday April 22, 2016 - 02:04:00 PM
<B>Vote for Larry Potter for President. He's a real Yaller Dawg.</B>
Delia Schletter
Vote for Larry Potter for President. He's a real Yaller Dawg.

“The Democratic primary is essentially over, although the Sanders campaign is still fundraising off naive supporters by claiming that it has a real shot.”

Thank goodness, I didn’t write that sentence, or I’d never eat lunch in this town again (a line which I think I stole from a Bette Davis movie.)

Truthfully, I might have written it, but Paul Krugman beat me to it. The in-house math nerd has been fulminating today over a Sanders email pitch he got this morning claiming that The Bern is only behind by 1.4%, based on the right-tilting RealClearPolitics website’s data from before the New York primary. More recent and more objective polling aggregators show at least a 5% gap.

Me, I’ve learned how to use the “unsubscribe” buttons, so I’m not getting nearly as many money requests from either candidate as he is. And money doesn’t seem to do what it used to.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Sanders spent about $9.03 per vote in the New York primary, while Clinton spent only about $3.62 per vote. Trump? Thirteen cents per vote. And she’s supposed to be the rich candidate. Go figure.

Sanders has been a valuable contributor to the public discourse, enunciating all the right goals which the ultimate anti-Republican candidate (also known as The Democrat) should be backing come November. He’s managed to drag Clinton along with him, most of the time not even kicking and screaming.

It’s not such a terrible idea for him to go on shaking the money tree for a couple of months longer, because progressive political organizations can always make good use of cash. But now it’s time for left-thinking voters to make lemonade out of those lemons which are falling out of the tree. 


I’ve referred in this space at least once to Yellow Dog Democrats, voters so appalled by what the Republicans have become that they’d even vote for an old yellow dog rather than, e.g., Donald Trump. 

What I’ve only recently realized is that the candidate we should all unite behind, at least until the Democratic convention gives us a final choice, was sitting under my desk the whole time. That would be Larry Potter, pictured here, who boasts impeccable proletarian origins (the Berkeley Animal Shelter) and almost never makes a speech about anything. 

Between now and the June California Primary, it should be perfectly okay for Berkeley’s legions of rabid Berniphiles and Hillaristas to also put a Larry Potter poster (now being designed) in their window or a Potter sign on their lawn. This will signify their membership in the reality-based community, the one which knows that who appoints the Supreme Court is probably the most important national consideration for the next eight years, so they’ll vote for Anyone but Trump. 

About that New York primary by the way: among the increasing number of kvetchers with whom I have increasingly little patience are those who have been complaining that some primaries, including that one, are only open to party members. That is to say, they’re closed to independents and to adherents of what are called third parties. 

There are good reasons for this choice. 

Doing door-to-door precinct work in the past I soon learned that “independent” often was shorthand for “I don’t pay much attention to government and seldom bother to vote.” Concentrating on making sure that the self-identified Democrats get to the polls in the general election is now called the “ground game”—it’s based on the same analysis: energize your base, and don’t worry about the rest, because they’re not likely to show up. 

When I worked in Michigan politics in the 60s and 70s, the Democratic primary had been closed to keep out Republican anti-union auto industry shills who had formerly crossed over in primaries to capture ballot slots before the general election. In those days Michigan had some excellent progressive Democratic governors (e.g. Zoltan Ferency) and senators (e.g. Phillip Hart). Now with open primaries there’s a truly awful Republican governor, Rick Snyder. 

New York has a long tradition of closed primaries, but candidates in the past have often gotten dual support in the general election, both from one of the two major parties and from special-pleading minor parties of various stripes. A prominent one was the Liberal Party, which can be described in an over-simplifed way as the historic anti-Communist left-labor organization, cross-endorsing mostly Democrats but the occasional moderate Republican (now a vanished species). Donald Harrington, father of local Democratic Senator Loni Harrington Hancock, was a Liberal figure of note. 

Are third parties the answer? When I was in high school, way back before the dark ages, my senior term paper was on the history of third parties. At that time, and still today, decades later, no third party has ever won a major election, state or national, that I can remember. 

The Socialist Party (I don’t know if Bernie’s a card-carrying member, or even if there is a Socialist Party anymore) had a long, respectable history, but seldom came close to being elected to anything. Family legend has it that a Quaker cousin, Jesse H. Holmes, once ran for vice-president with perennial Socialist presidential hopeful Norman Thomas. If so, he lost. 

Fine folks, many of them, but here we are today still forced to choose between D and R. It’s a lot easier to hang out carping on the fringes, but I have great respect for those who continue to toil in the trenches of the major parties, which doesn’t include me anymore. 

On Wednesday I did go to an event honoring four brave souls who are challenging the entrenched might of the local Democratic power brokers. They are people who supported Tony Thurmond’s successful outsider campaign for the State Assembly, and were outraged when insiders in the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee endorsed Thurmond’s opponent in last year’s general election without even consulting its own members. 

One of these candidates, Brett Badelle, was on the committee in an appointed slot, but no one asked his opinion before announcing the choice, even though he was one of only two Black males out of 60 members. He and his colleagues, Floyd Huen, Kate Harrison and Vincent Casalaina, have been endorsed by the Wellstone Democratic Club (which also endorsed Bernie Sanders). A sizeable percentage of Wellstone members have tried other forms of political organizing and various left minority parties, but they seem to have concluded that since electoral politics is here to stay you might just as well claim a share of the action. 

The dominant parties are not even close to perfect—in the case of the Republicans far, far from perfect. But the only way to change them is from the inside. 

It may be too late to revive the respectable Republican party of the past—it might just be gone. That makes it even more important to keep on trying to fix the Democrats as these four brave delegate candidates are doing. Don’t forget to vote for them, way down at the bottom of the June primary ballot, no matter which presidential candidate you choose. That’s Badelle, Huen, Harrison, Casalaina—and none of the incumbents, who will be clearly labelled as such. 

To find out more look here or send email to WellstoneAD15@gmail.com.