There are no mistakes

Today's the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses and the values-less effort to unseat Trump shows its fault lines.

Posted by LM on February 3, 2020

There are no mistakes. It's a common saying. As a progressive-minded person I believe in the concept but approach it with different words: laws of attraction are real and always in effect, for better or worse. Whether you're positive or negative the choice is yours, but the laws of attraction will accommodate you either way. This works very well for someone who is results-oriented. The best way to get what you want is to think about it and wish for it. And then, once it's embedded in your conscious and subconscious mind, take practical steps to make it happen. To will it into existence.

Somewhere in that process, if you're invested enough, the laws of attraction begin to intermingle with your personal values. The item itself and the qualities it represents, and then what you attract often starts to accelerate from there. The Democratic party and its candidates have so far avoided forming a formal, professional set of values to run counter to Trump and the Republicans; indeed, they've had almost four years since Hillary's loss to change their programming, but instead they'd rather run campaigns free of any conversation from 10,000 feet up. They'd rather go into the weeds on policy proposals as if this were still the 1990s, apparently ignorant of what to expect on a debate stage with Trump (again).

As I've described, modern politics rewards specificity and punishes ambiguity. Ambiguity is what we've gotten from the beginning of this campaign season - it's why so many Iowa voters are torn on their decision - and now it's coming home to roost as we've gotten closer. Here are a few developments the laws of attraction have rewarded us with since just last Friday (four days ago).

  • The DNC has changed its debate rules, paving the way for Michael Bloomberg to take the stage. Unfortunately for candidates who have already dropped out, especially candidates of color like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, they're left out in the cold. The excuse? Fewer candidates allow for a lower bar when it comes to meeting the donor threshold. Translation: you ex-candidates played by the rules. Tough luck. Oh, and we're going to upend the normal process and allow a billionaire in favor of... well, gee, we dunno. We didn't have a plan. Guess we'll focus on the essential black vote later, maybe. Source: Politico.
  • Growing concern Bernie Sanders, or anyone else, could swing momentum by preempting tonight's genuine results in Iowa (delegate-based) by claiming victory in preference votes even if they lose the contest. This is a legit concern because the closeness of the 2016 primary (he lost to Hillary by 0.2%) forced a change in results reporting. Iowa will now report first preference vote, a second realignment vote and the final delegate count. More stats = more fuel to argue for a different read on the results, which of course carries more weight in a primary where voter-candidate commitments are so weak. Source again: Politico.
  • The highly-anticipated, well-respected, election-eve state poll from the Des Moines Register, CNN and Mediacom was cancelled due to a lack of confidence in the results. Apparently at least one staffer, when making calls and reading prompts from a computer screen, enlarged their font and cut off candidate names from being read over the phone. Because it's possible more than one staffer did this, and because the repopulating list randomizes the names on each call, it cannot be known how many times this happened or to which candidates. So now none of the candidates have this potential benefit going into tonight.

Of course I don't get all my reporting from Politico, but they've really been on point with all this. They have a great piece summarizing these events, and more, that formed the topic of this article. It's a solid read that communicates the vibe well.

Keep in mind this is all internal - there is nothing significant leveled at these candidates yet from the outside - and we're already seeing how severely the laws of attraction are acting on this ambiguity. It's not too late to run a values campaign and turn this around. But for now we're seeing how an outdated approach really starts to make the effort fail, not unlike running old software on a newer operating system it isn't meant for. The program might install and even open, but it's not really going to work. System support for it has lapsed.

2020 election
2020 primaries