“It’s time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say. It’s true that if we embrace a far left agenda, they’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. Let’s stand up for the right policy, go up there and defend it.” –Pete Buttigieg
Mother of God, what a week. I hope you’ve had some sleep, hydration, and food. I hope you’re able to take a minute here and there to rest. I used a dentist appointment to decompress. Yes, let me lie flat in a chair with a bright light in my face and a little pickaxe stabbing my gums but I can’t doomscroll or watch Steve Kornacki write alien hieroglyphics on a white board, so this is soooo relaxing.
Too many election stories to recount, so I’m focusing on one that conveys a larger lesson for the Democratic Party to of course never learn, because they never do. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat who flipped Virginia’s Seventh District House seat in 2018, won her first reelection battle this week. You’d be forgiven for assuming she’s popping champagne with her loved ones in celebration and definitely not throwing a tantrum and cursing out her progressive colleagues on a Dem Caucus call and accusing them of almost costing her her seat because the GOP ran attack ads calling her a socialist who wanted to defund the police. Alas, you’d be wrong. She’s throwing the tantrum. Such professionalism, much mature!
I guess she needs to hear this, so I’ll be the one to say it: Of COURSE they called you a socialist in attack ads! Have you been cryogenically frozen for the past twenty-five years? If you didn’t have a plan to combat or neutralize that accusation, then that’s on you, not like, Rashida Tlaib. All you demonstrate with your Karen hissy fit is how unprepared you were. Spanberger got caught with her pants down and doesn’t want to admit it. I’m still trying to make sense of her antics though. Sure she ought to be embarrassed, but at the end of the day, she did win her race. Not only that, she won with a higher margin than she did in 2018. Obviously her Democratic voters weren’t persuaded by the GOP bad faith attacks. Why is this not good news? The only theory I can posit is that she thought her DCCC-dictated, centrist, better-things-aren’t-possible campaign message was going to attract a bunch of Republican votes in her district, and she’s big mad upon discovering it didn’t. As someone who grew up in the Religious Right in a red state, here’s a piece of advice for you, Abigail:
If you want Republicans to vote for you, put a fucking R next to your name on the ballot.
While I am the last person who wants to see another Cleetus Safari from the New York Times, there actually is an important aspect of Republican voters that Democratic leadership refuses to understand. Republican voters see Democrats – ALL Democrats – as both leftist radicals AND fundamentally dishonest human beings. These concepts are synonymous in their brains and there is no breaking the link. Every time you disavow Bernie Sanders or Nancy Pelosi or promise to “reach across the aisle”, you just provide more fodder for their preexisting beliefs about your supposed lack of integrity. They don’t understand why you aren’t acting like a Democrat and conclude you must certainly be lying. They harbor this fantasy that Democrats are as ruthless and radical as they are (IF ONLY!) and thus, if you promise to implement Republican policy platforms, you must be attempting to dupe them into giving away their power. They won’t be fooled.
I remember conversations with my parents and grandparents, where I’d point out a prominent Democrat who held a conservative position, like Harry Reid opposing abortion. The responses always ranged from “yes buuuutttt” to “well, I’m pretty sure he’s lying” to “that’s nice, but his support of Insert Other Liberal Issue doesn’t make up for it.” Republicans believe Democrats will close ranks and vote with their tribe at the end of the day, so their individual positions don’t really matter. Of course that doesn’t always happen, but when you point out any one Democrat’s vote that breaks with party lines, they just don’t care. It’s written off as a fluke, and even if you can point to a clear pattern, they’ll always manufacture some reason for why it “doesn’t count.”
If you learn nothing else from my experiences growing up in the Religious Right, learn this: Literally every GOP voter thinks literally every Democrat is a leftist radical. There is not one single thing you can say or do to convince them otherwise. If you are a Democrat running as a Republican-lite, the GOP voters you are trying to peel off will just see you as dishonest and hate you even more than if you ran as a mainstream liberal or progressive. I don’t care how many Planned Parenthood protests or church services you attend, I don’t care how many times you quote Ronald Reagan or the Bible, I don’t care how many times you pinky swear not to overturn the Second Amendment. You have a D by your name, and that is where their analysis stops.
The GOP kept referencing AOC and Bernie Sanders in their attack ads against Biden, and if you were to believe Very Serious Media Men, it’s because “aww, poor little racist sexist Trump just doesn’t know how to run against another old white man like himself.” No. NO. That’s not the lesson. GOP voters really and truly believe Biden is just like AOC and Bernie, and no amount of facts will convince them otherwise. The GOP strategists were smart with their ads. They know that their base thinks Biden is lying when he reaches out to Republicans like John Kasich, so they made sure to reinforce that belief. When Democrats make big overtures to Republicans, they actually alienate the very Republican voters they are trying to entice. Those voters just feel manipulated. It’s almost as if, when conservative voters have a choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican, they choose the real one every time. Funny that!
Joe Biden spent most of his campaign pandering to Republicans. Yet it’s Blacks, liberal Latinos, Arizona Native Americans, AAPI women, and progressives who are getting him over the finish line. He did not peel off any Republican votes. In fact, Trump increased his share of GOP voters. Biden’s strategy utterly failed. Republicans saw all that pandering as just that: pandering. Insincere. Manipulative.
Democrats, you have to fucking stand for something. You have to possess and be able to articulate and communicate a clear vision of who you are and what you want America to be. You must differentiate yourself from Republicans; otherwise, what’s the point? It does not work to be this big tent party trying to equally represent everyone to the left of I Shouldn’t Have to Press One for English. You have to implement some real values and litmus tests.
At the end of the day, Republicans, unlike Democrats, know what they stand for. Their thinking is, “If you, a Democrat like Abigail Spanberger or Joe Biden, really wanted to represent us Republican voters, well, you’d just be a Republican. But you’re not. You’re a Democrat. So you don’t represent us. And you never will.”
Honestly, they might have a point.
Wild Mushroom Pizza with Basil Oil and Gruyère
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups lukewarm water
- Kosher salt
- 18 fresh basil leaves
- 4 tbs olive oil
- At least 2 tbs olive oil
- 15 oz. wild mushrooms, any kind you like or a mixture of different types, thinly sliced or torn if they are more delicate like oyster mushrooms
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 8 oz. Gruyère cheese, shredded
- Snipped chives, for garnish
- Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Place all the dough ingredients into a large bowl and stir together until smooth. You may need to use your hands to get the last bits together, but take care not to overknead the dough. It should hold together but look pretty rough on the surface.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 45 minutes. Transfer it, still covered, to the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours and no longer than 36 hours.
- When you are ready to make your pizza, remove the bowl from the refrigerator. Lightly flour a large cutting board or clean flat surface and divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a roughly 12-inch circle or rectangle. Cover the dough with more plastic wrap and let rest for about 30 minutes.
- In a small pot, boil 1 quart of water with a pinch of kosher salt. Add the basil leaves and cook for 3 seconds, just until wilted. Pour the basil into a sieve and run them under cold water until cool.
- Add them to a mini food processor along with the olive oil and 1 tsp kosher salt. Puree until smooth. If your machine won’t get the mixture to a perfect puree, don’t worry about it. The final product doesn’t depend on perfection here.
- Preheat your oven to 500 F and place a pizza stone on the middle rack.
- Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then saute the mushrooms, stirring often and adding more olive oil if needed, until the mushrooms are softened and cooked through. Season to taste with kosher salt.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper on your pizza peel, then carefully transfer one of the dough circles on top. In a quick motion, slide the pizza dough, including the parchment, onto the pizza stone. Cook for exactly 4 minutes.
- Slide the pizza peel underneath the parchment and remove the pizza dough. Using a pastry brush, brush half the basil oil all over the parcooked pizza. Spoon half the mushroom mixture on top, spreading it evenly. Top with half the Gruyère cheese. Transfer the pizza plus parchment back onto the pizza stone and cook for 6 minutes. Remove the pizza to a cutting board. Scatter half the chives all over the pizza. Let rest about 5 minutes, then slice into squares or wedges and serve immediately. Repeat with the remaining pizza dough circle and ingredients.
- Serve with Parmesan cheese.