Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Musician's Resolution

My road to data driven politics was long and winding. I hearken from a classical music background. Conservatory training brings with it a natural “glass half empty” attitude I find helpful in the political dodge. Serious musicians spend a lot of time alone, in a practice room, constantly evaluating their playing and making changes and improvements.  If you aren’t your own harshest, most iconoclastic critic, you will never succeed. This isn’t considered noble or out of the ordinary for a serious classical or jazz musician.  No one has ever become a better musician practicing what they already know. You identify and attack bad habits and drill and listen to hone your skills.

And you do it 4 or 5 hours every dang day.

For those of us in the progressive space, the musician offers helpful lessons. Let’s make 2017 a musician’s year. First, let’s all be hard on ourselves. I’m seeing a bit of the blame game on the Internet of late. The left is blaming the center, state players are blaming their national organizations, folks who don’t understand data are waxing Luddite and blaming the “white coated statisticians.” Vendors are blaming the campaign. Folks who didn’t spend one millisecond helping out a campaign with their dollars or their time are kvetching as if they have all the answers.

Screw all that.


We just fought a long, hard campaign and we not only lost, we put a dangerous, anti-intellectual, racist, sexist, megalomaniacal butthead in the White House. All of us bring some blame to the table. EVERYONE. No exceptions.

 Sure, it hurts to realize that not all of those  midnight data pulls on Saturday, the weeknight wee hour sessions, or the daily grind for months failed to move enough votes on election night. So, we need to do better. And we need to be tough on ourselves this year, the very Republic is at stake. But I’m not shedding tears.  It’s just time to re-evaluate and get back in the practice room.

First, we need to get out of our silos; yes, we need to do the work we do in our niches to pay the mortgage and keep our pups in kibble, but we need to be far more flexible.

Did the big data folks oversell their usefulness? YES

Did we  ignore turnout indicators on the other team (turnout after all is relative)? YES

Did the field become too obsessed with the base, all the while ignoring persuasion: YES

And even if you don’t work in politics, you aren’t off the hook here:

Did the political left become solipsistic and smug, utterly unwilling to accept that a huge chunk of the electorate DOESN’T always see the world through their eyes? YES

Did too many folks think this election was a done deal and sit on their hands? YES

Are too many of the folks reading this guilty of kvetching about the state of America (on and off line), all the while donating no money to the cause, refusing to find the time to knock on doors or make phone calls? YES 

Let’s all take a day or two, or even a week, and look at our own failings. No one is guilt free. Don’t blame others, that won’t make you a better player, a more refined politico capable of the adroitness of a fine violinist or jazz improviser. BLAME YOURSELF. All of us, every last one, made mistakes. It’s not self-flagellation. It’s the only way out of the pit we’ve dug. No musician ever improved blaming the conductor, or the Oboists poor “tuning note” or the humid weather that caused their tone quality to suffer. They look within, they evaluate, they criticize themselves, and only then do they grow.

And that’s what we need to do tonight and moving forward.

Stay tuned both here and on the Democratic Daily, I'll be offering a lot of actions, sample letters to elected officials and things to do to fight Donald the Tweeting Twit Trump.

So, let’s get busy, Let’s get in that practice room, and let’s get to work.

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