Our American Democracy Lives!

Today is a day of great joy. In commemoration of all of the major news organizations in the country now having called the presidential race for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, I have written the following poem because sometimes prose just isn’t enough. I hope it is to the enjoyment of many!

Our American Democracy Lives!

by Andrew Villeneuve

Begone, sorrow!
Begone, dread!
Begone, cynicism!
Begone, sickness!
Begone, desolation!

A new day is dawning
A joyous day
A momentous day
A long-awaited day
A day of celebration

For our democracy lives!
We marched
We resisted
And persisted
Now, victory is ours!

Let science and sense be our guide
Let separated families be reunited
Let America rejoin the world community
Let the light be free
Let mourning give way to morning

Hoist the sail, make for the sunlit waters
The journey continues to January 20th, 2021
The fight against fascism must go on
There’s lives to be saved and Senate seats to be won
Onward together with Joe and Kamala as our captains!

Why I’m running to be a delegate for Joe Biden

I am running to be a delegate for Joe Biden because I want to bring our party together behind our party’s 2020 presidential nominee. I proudly supported Bernie Sanders and was a 2016 national delegate for Senator Sanders in Philadelphia last cycle, but like Senator Sanders, Senator Warren, and the rest of the Democratic field, I am now supporting Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States.

I want to put my experience as a Sanders national delegate and young progressive leader to work to ensure a Democratic victory in 2020. I believe my experience will allow me to be an effective bridge between the different wings of our party.

Joe Biden is going to need every vote he can get to win, and I’m committed to helping mobilize supporters of Senator Sanders, Senator Warren, and other candidates to support Joe Biden. I contemplated running to be a delegate for Senator Sanders again, but I’ve chosen to run as a delegate for Joe Biden because I am fully committed to electing him.

The time to unite behind our nominee is now. Not this summer, not this autumn, but now. These are unprecedented times for our country, and we need to figure out how to campaign effectively in an era of physical distancing. As a skilled facilitator, cybersecurity strategist, party leader, and technologist with deeply held progressive values, I believe I can be of service in uniting our party behind our nominee.

Thank you for your consideration. It’s an honor to represent you on the Washington State Democratic Central Committee as one of your two state committeemembers.

Below is a video I recorded explaining why I’ve decided to run for delegate as a supporter of Joe Biden. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch it, and join me in supporting Joe Biden for President in 2020.

If Joe Biden gets the 2020 Democratic nomination, progressive activists have a moral obligation to help elect him

Recently, while doing some surfing, I came across an article from Politico, linked below, titled: A ‘Never Biden’ movement vows not to vote for Joe.

Inside of that article was this passage:

On ‘Never Biden’ Facebook pages and in Twitter threads, some activists argue that if Trump is reelected, Democrats will fare better in the next midterms and that the party will be more likely to nominate a progressive in 2024. If Biden is elected, they see eight years of centrist governance.

I have a message for the people posting “Never Biden” comments on social media.

I was a proud national delegate for Bernie Sanders in 2016, and I still support Bernie, but I can see the writing on the wall. Joe Biden is on a trajectory to win the Democratic nomination, which means he will be going on to the general election as the party’s standard bearer. And like Bernie, I will be supporting Joe, enthusiastically.

If you can’t bring yourself to do this, then do your friends and fellow activists a favor and just stop posting about politics on social media till this election is over, because your grousing isn’t serving any useful purpose. Or find another outlet for your energy.

For example, you could work on a downballot race for a congressional or legislative candidate you love. President ain’t the only elected office in the land.

Right now is a time for critical thinking, for effective long-term planning, and for prioritization. Not for this absurdist talk that emanates from a position of privilege.

My time is simply too valuable and too precious to be wasted online or offline in a relationship with someone who prefers Donald Trump being able to appoint more judges and possibly Supreme Court justices than a Joe Biden presidency. So I’ll be un-friending and un-following anyone on social media who espouses “Never Biden” nonsense.

A worldwide pandemic is currently in progress, we don’t have competent federal leadership in the executive branch, and yet there are people on Facebook — people who claim to be progressives — arguing that the Democratic Party and the progressive movement would be better off with a second Trump term as opposed to Joe Biden becoming our next President.

Just absurd. Terrible.

I know Politico’s reporting is not off the mark here because I have seen comment threads along these lines. Anyone who holds the view that a second Trump term would be better than a Biden presidency is not a progressive. Period.

Real progressives don’t talk or think like that. Real progressives use the logic of the values of empathy and mutual responsibility to guide their thinking.

Selfishness, self-centered thinking, instant gratification, gloom, myopia, and closed mindedness are not progressive values.

Real progressives recognize that cooperation, coalition building, and finding common ground are critical to advancing progressive values and policy directions.

Effective progressives and effective Democrats are pragmatic, and practical, and results oriented, because they want to spend their time improving people’s lives and moving forward. not treading water or going backwards.

To be a progressive means to be committed to continuous progress.

As progressive strategist George Lakoff has written:

The authentic pragmatist realizes you can’t get everything you think is right, but you can get much or most of it through negotiation. The authentic pragmatist sticks to his or her values and works to satisfy them maximally.

— Thinking Points, 2006

If you are a “Bernie or Buster”, if you are someone who claims to support Bernie but ignores his calls to unite behind the nominee, you need to rethink your politics.

Joe Biden is not entitled to your vote or your support, but you do have a moral obligation to help elect him, if you are truly a progressive activist who wants to improve lives.

Don’t agree?

Then I recommend taking a social media hiatus so you can contemplate your worldview and your views on means and ends. Do some reading — I recommend George Lakoff’s books.

Maybe talk to elders you trust. If you know a WWII veteran, ask them to meet you virtually on Zoom or FaceTime. Ask them how they feel about this election.

Then think about the kids locked up in cages and all the people who Trump has hurt or threatened who are in desperate need of a change in leadership so that they don’t die or suffer terribly.

If we can’t get Trump out, there may not *be* a 2024 election. There may not be a country left to save a few years from now. This could be our last chance to return America back to a trajectory of progress. This is not the most important election of our lifetimes, this is the most consequential election in the country’s history, aside from perhaps the 1860 election.

I want to be friends with people who understand this fact.

So if you’re prepared to vote for Joe Biden in November, or you’re at least *open* to the idea, then let’s work together to elect Democrats in 2020, starting with Joe Biden and going on down the ballot. We need a Democratic U.S. Senate, Democratic governors, Democratic state legislators, and Democratic Secretaries of State and Attorneys General.

If not — if your view is it’s Bernie or nothing — then let’s part ways, at least on social media.

Trump is not on our side

Trump is a profound risk to individual liberties, our national identity, and our collective futures. Forget about his narcissism, his deeply insecure view of himself, his need to be adored and his bizarre and offensive obsequiousness toward Vladimir Putin.

If possible, try to allow the rule of law and the wheels of government, in both the executive and legislative branches, to grind along and investigate who on Trump’s team colluded with Russian President Putin and his intelligence services during the 2016 Presidential election. Whatever Trump did or didn’t do or know, it will be revealed. And it won’t change the fact that he has now held office for nearly one year and the damage being done is real.

Collectively, we must be prepared to switch gears, look ahead, and take back Congress with elected representatives who will serve our people, communities, and nation in the long struggle toward liberty, justice, and equality for all.

Focus on how Trump and the GOP leaders in Congress are advancing the politics of the powerful at the expense of the vulnerable.

Focus on their agenda that maximizes near-term personal gain at the expense of our long-term collective good.

Grasp the terrible truth of this administration: it is out to wreck the vision of a land of liberty for a nation of immigrants.

Resolve to support candidates for Congressional office who love our country, talk about what kind of a future they hope to create, and know what it means to go to work every day.

Support candidates who love the people and places they hope to represent.

Support the candidates who are willing to fight back against powerful special interests when the best interests of the many are at risk…who are willing to fight for the U.S. Constitution, the rights of all people, and the commitments our nation has made to international communities where family, friends, and colleagues live, work and play.

For all our flaws and failures to live up to the vision of a place where we pledge allegiance to “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”, we the people historically have elected Presidents who seemed to hold a shared vision of our national identity and the path to our future. These Presidents over centuries seemed to take their oath of office seriously, “to protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

And then there was Trump.

Now it’s not Trump versus Mueller, or Trump versus Congress, or Trump versus our allies, or Trump/Putin versus the Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians, or hopeful immigrants and frantic refugees.

It’s Trump versus the American people.

He’s not on our side.

When the President of the United States attacks our public institutions and our public officials, he is attacking every single American.

When the President of the United States attacks our closest allies and friends around the world, he is attacking our students, family members, and colleagues who live in those countries.

When the President of the United States attacks and demeans women, girls, LGBTQ, and all people of color, he is attacking every parent, child, and grandchild in our country.

We the people must elect representatives who are on our side.

Take it personally, everyone. Take it very personally. And translate outrage and frustration into voting. Rededicate ourselves to being engaged and curious citizens. Be there for our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors when they need us.

Every day, we make choices.

Choose to make 2018 the year we vote for people who will have our backs.

Our democracy is hurting right now. And Trump doesn’t care.

But we do. So let’s take care of our democracy. It’s the very best resolution we could possibly make.

Don’t complain — be the change

Every time a Sanders supporter shares content from The Observer or gripes about last year’s primaries, a pair of Republican operatives clink mugs somewhere.

I was a proud national delegate for Bernie in 2016. But it’s 2017 now. We’re facing a new reality, and we can’t effectively respond by whining. Whining is simply not one of the habits of effective Democrats.

Complaining is like sitting in a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.

Ask yourself this: What am I doing now to work for a better future in this country? Posting comments on Facebook doesn’t count.

Are you running for office?

Volunteering for progressive candidates who are?

Organizing your neighborhood by canvassing?

Building progressive media?

Sustaining efforts to develop thought leadership for the left?

Registering people to vote?

Contacting your elected officials?

Participating in litigation to hold the Trump regime accountable?

There are lots of ways to make a difference. Griping just isn’t one of them.

Be the change and take action if you don’t like what happened last year.

2016 Democratic National Convention

A high honor and a distinct privilege

Yesterday, for the third consecutive presidential election cycle, I participated in the 1st Congressional District Democratic caucus, where I was chosen as one of five delegates for Bernie Sanders to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

I consider this a great honor and as well as an important responsibility, and I am very grateful to my fellow Bernie supporters for their confidence in me. As I pledged during my speech, it is my intention to provide continuous live coverage of all the goings-on at the Convention, offering the local perspective that big media won’t. I am prepared to put more than twelve years of blogging/ liveblogging experience to work to deliver high quality coverage that includes images and audio/video clips as well as text.

As a Democratic activist focused on effective activism, I look at the Democratic National Convention as an unparalleled organizing opportunity. Since I became involved in the Party over a decade ago, I have consistently sought to make it more accountable, responsive, and governed from the bottom-up, not the top-down. I am looking forward to working with other supporters of Bernie Sanders, as well as supporters of Hillary Clinton, to push for a bold progressive platform and for rules reforms that will strengthen our Party and make it less susceptible to the corrupting influence of big money.

Among my priorities for reform of the party at the federal level are:

  • Doing away with so-called superdelegates (I have no objection to including Democratic governors, members of Congress, and other distinguished leaders in our quadrennial conventions, but they should be honorary participants as opposed to unpledged delegates);
  • Making the national party’s charter more inclusive of LGBT individuals (specifically, replacing gender-binary language in Article III, Section 16 requiring state central committees to be balanced between men and women);
  • Ending the absurd “tradition” that the Chair of the Democratic Party be handpicked by the President when the White House is held by a Democrat. The Chair of the Democratic Party should be democratically chosen in an open setting — not selected behind closed doors by fiat.

The Democratic Party cannot continue to operate the way it has been doing business going forward. To win public trust and bolster its brand, it must implement reforms that make it a more open, welcoming, and well-governed party that is truly of the people.

I applaud Senator Bernie Sanders for his resolve to see that the 2016 DNC is used as a launching pad to begin implementing the changes we need.

I am thrilled to be headed to Philadelphia with six other outstanding activists from the 1st CD: Richard May, Varisha Khan, Cat Williams, and Hillary Moralez (also for Bernie), and Olivia Burley and Shahzad Bhatti (for Hillary). We will be on our way to the City of Brotherly (& Sisterly) Love in just two months.

If you would like to receive updates from me by email during the Convention, please sign up here.

Effective Democrats begins…

Today marks the beginning of Effective Democrats, a campaign to improve Democratic Party governance within the Pacific Northwest and especially Washington State.

ED is an effort to help Democratic organizations at all levels – legislative, county, and state in particular – identify best practices for accomplishing the party’s business, and then implement those best practices. Areas that ED will focus on in 2014 and 2015 include:

  • Making endorsements and nominations
  • Harnessing technology
  • Internal controls and financial management
  • Organizing caucuses and special events
  • Recruiting and appreciating volunteers
  • Tracking and taking positions on ballot measures

Any Democrat who would like to assist in crafting model procedures and plans for Democratic organizations to use is invited to join Effective Democrats. To join the steering committee, simply express your interest by filling out this form.

The steering committee will meet periodically in 2014 to begin working on its first sets of model procedures. ED will have a gathering at each state committee meeting in 2014: January 31st/February 1st in Vancouver, June 20th/21st in Spokane, and September 11th/12th in Ferndale. Additional gatherings may take place via Skype or in person depending on steering committee members’ availability. Most communication will be via email.

You can leave a comment or sign up here to express interest in being kept informed of ED’s efforts. I hope you’ll consider contributing in some form or another. As Democrats, we should all be interested in identifying and adopting ways to make our party function more effectively.