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    • Reasons For Hope (1): The Solutions Are Known
      Ok, this place has mostly been about how fucked we are, and how we’ve fucked up. Blame is more on our leaders than us, but as a species we’re on the hook. But there is cause of hope because mostly we know what we have to do. We know we have to reduce CO2 and Methane emissions. We even know mostly how. We pretend we don’t, because the how will involve changin […]
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Survive and Advance

I am not positive as to who first used the term, “Survive and Advance,” but the most famous person who did, was Jim Valvano, the basketball coach at North Carolina State, who is additionally known by non-basketball fans as the man who helped start the Jimmy V Fund, to raise money to help fight cancer.

Valvano was an excellent basketball coach, who played a style somewhat different than the fast-paced North Carolina, Duke, and Maryland teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference He was very strategical in game situations. NC State was not a top tier power, but they were very good. And Valvano won a national title as coach of the Wolfpack in 1983, which has gone down in history.

The NCAA basketball tournament was 64 teams, and so you had to win six games in a row in the single-elimination tournament. In NC State’s first game, they barely beat Pepperdine, a little private school for rich Republicans in Malibu, coached by Jim Harrick, who went on to coach at UCLA, and win a national title in 1995. Pepperdine led NCS in what I think was the second overtime, by about eight points, but somehow missed three one-and-one free throws,and NCS came back and beat them.

When Valvano was asked about the game being so close, he said something to the effect that the goal in the NCAA Tournament was to survive and advance, In other words, it was not about how much you won by in a game, or how impressive you looked; the only goal is to somehow get through the game, and win; and then you have survived, and you move on to the next game. That is all that matters, just get by, and then you get to the next game.

NC State managed to keep winning; in the Round of 32, then the Sweet Sixteen, then the Elite Eight. Then they won the National Semifinal game. They played the University of Houston in the Finals. Houston was a substantial favorite, with great talent, but NCS slowed the game down; and then, in the last seconds, they won on a follow shot basket at the buzzer, a scene that is shown on so many highlight films, followed by Jim Valvano jumping and running in jubilation. And “survive and advance” has become a rallying cry, not only in sports, but in other aspects of life.

I was thinking of that phrase while I was watching the election results in the Georgia runoff for senator. Now, it is important to realize that there is a limit to the analogy between sports and politics. Nothing can take away North Carolina State’s and Jim Valvano’s national title, no matter what the program has done since then, or will do in the future. But obviously, winning a nail-biting race, does not mean that Democrats have won the equivalent of a national title. It is a great victory, but there are many races; and it does not mean that people can just bask in it, although after a grueling election season, we all deserve a little rest, even if it is just for one’s sanity.

It did make me think, as I am wont to do, about the political future for all of us. Democrats winning the 51st Senate seat, is very important. But it is a tenuous advantage, and we do not have enough votes to break Republican filibusters, unless Manchin and Sinema, who keep saying that they want to protect the filibuster, vote along with the other 49 to get rid of it. And of course, with regard to major legislation, there is not going to be very much of it, while the Republicans control the House, although there is talk of an immigration bill.

And the extra Senate vote will make it much easier for President Biden to have any judge confirmed, or any Supreme Court Justice, if he somehow gets to nominate one. And just as importantly, it gives Democrats a fighting chance to keep the Senate after 2024, though it won’t be easy. The map is much more favorable to Republicans than the one this year, with the need to protect seats in Montana, and Ohio, among others, with most close observers thinking that there is no Senate seat which Democrats can flip And many believe that Governor Ducey will run for Sinema’s Senate seat, and is likely to beat her, or any Democrat who might defeat her in the primary.

This is two years away, and we certainly do not want to obsess about it now, at least for a month or so! But Democratic strategists have to, because in these times, we have a foe which is implacable and relentless, and wants to turn America into a totalitarian religious state. They are not like some team which we eliminated from the tournament, they are still there. It seems unfair, but this is the foe that we have to fight. And we can never miss a vote, as some have in past election seasons. Give the Republicans one inch of space, and they will try to break through to tear the whole building down.

We survived this election, and so much credit must be given to the voters and organizers in Georgia, and to Senator Warnock,who gave a great victory speech. Two Democratic senators in Georgia, both essentially liberal, is something to be happy about. Of course, getting to run against a dreadful candidate, was a major advantage, And Republicans, if they do nothing to modify their Far Right positions, will probably be smart enough to nominate some more superficially credible candidates, like Kemp and Youngkin, Ducey and Sununu. In other words, “the next round” will not be a repeat of this one in form. We will need more votes, and more strategical tactics, if we are to save the country from DeSantis, and all the other evil forces that still fill the Republican Party at all levels.

But we did survive, so to speak; not just this Georgia Senate race, but the very dangerous election cycle. That means that we get to advance, with some strength intact, and some blueprint for how we organize campaigning and getting out the vote. That is about as much as we could have hoped for this year, though of course we need more, as “bipartisan government” is not feasible, not with this Republican Party, as I see no hope whatsoever that they will moderate their radical agenda. They may even get the Supreme Court to accept the “Independent State Legislature Doctrine,” which could end the power of the people to decide elections. Republicans want to win in total, and make it impossible for them to ever lose power. They are thinking of ways to do this, even now,; they never sleep, they are akin to zombies in many respects.

Nice to survive this election, and it will give us more sustenance to move forward. A party and its adherents need to win victories, and to proudly celebrate, to have the will to move forward, to advance.