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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.

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29 Responses

  1. I’m very happy that Warnock won but that the race was ever close is appalling. That Walker ever became the Republican Senate candidate and made it a runoff race is appalling. Walker was the worst Republican candidate for Senate in my lifetime; even worse than Roy Moore and that’s a difficult accomplishment. Walker was totally unqualified for elected office and yet he almost won. Think about that. He came very close to becoming a United States Senator. That certainly says a lot about the Republican Party but it also says a lot about the Democratic Party. Warnock should have won back in November, running on the mere fact that he is a sane human being. Why was it ever a close race? Some will say that Democrats have a ‘messaging problem’, that the media is against them, that right wing billionaires are flooding the Republican Party with money and that Republican voters are just plain ‘stupid’. All that may be true, but to really survive and advance, Democrats are going to have to get to work and I don’t mean by raising more money from corporate donors. They need to have a list of concrete achievements to run on that are actually making people’s daily lives better. Having passed the Inflation Reduction Act is not going to cut it. No average American’s life feels significantly better because of that measly Act. How Democrats can achieve concrete benefits for average Americans after losing the House, retaining a slim majority in the Senate and having a President who seems to continue to believe (or pretend to believe) that bipartisanship is possible is something Democrats in power are going to have to figure out. They need to figure it out fast because the races for 2024 have already begun. Biden could sign some executive orders for a start. (Hey, Joey, the health of railway workers matters and so does the crippling student loan debt of young people! They may not contribute much money to your campaign but they do vote!) The lame duck session in Congress could get a few things passed. Be bold, be creative, have a strategy that helps real people, not your corporate donors. Winning races against bat shit crazy Republicans like Walker may not be so easy next time. In fact, it wasn’t easy at all. Remember that.

    • Now some people may say, “I don’t have any paid sick days, why should railway workers have them?” or “I paid off my student loans, why should other people get their loans forgiven?”. But we all know we are in an existential battle to save democracy and prevent a fascist takeover, don’t we? So if issuing executive orders to give railway workers sick leave and student loan borrowers forgiveness will earn their votes in 2024 and beyond, we are on board with that, aren’t we? Good. I thought so. Give the people something concrete, save democracy in the process.

      • Paid sick leave needs to be universal. It’s barbaric (and hazardous) that it isn’t. I wonder how many railroad accidents have been caused by engineers or signalmen working sick?

        • Many accidents have happened and more are just waiting to happen if working conditions don’t improve. There are interviews with railway workers pleading for help, not only for sick leave but for enough time to get some sleep. They are on call 24/7, 365 days a year and often work 16 hour shifts. Their schedules are crazy. It is inhumane and dangerous. You would think we were still living in the 19th century: “Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss”. I am so angry that Biden and his ilk have failed these workers. It is unconscionable.

    • These are all very important things to consider. in terms of how did the Democratic Party get to this place? I do think that some of the recent legislation was helpful, and I think that much more could have been done if we did not have to deal with Manchin, the only sort of Democrat who could ever win in WV, and Sinema. But again, how did we get to this spot?

      I won’t write a whole essay about it here, but I think that much of it has to do with Obama, what he represented, and what he didn’t do. I had a mild argument with my brother, even on his birthday, but he likes discussing politics, so it was okay.He loves Obama, and thinks that his election was one of the great moments. Frankly, I think that whatever moral pride one takes from his being elected, it helped to turn a large swath of the country against Democrats, at least at the local level.

      Looking at the states which we seem to have ceded into the indefinite future: Ohio, Iowa, Florida, probably more; we see this play out to where it is legitimately predicted that there is little chance of flipping one Senate seat in 2024; and most of the state legislatures are controlled by Republicans, even if we win some of the governorships. The Republicans planted themselves there during the two routs of 2010 and 2014, and they are still there, and trying to get state legislatures to be able to overturn national elections, via the Supreme Court, which Obama made virtually no effort to change, by trying to to get that Court to rule on whether “advise and consent” is an affirmative duty, so McConnnell had to bring Gartand’s nomination to a vote. And then of course those people who did not choose to vote for Hillary, voted for Stein or Johnson or sat out the election, which any rational person would have known would determine the Supreme Court for decades.

      Republicans mostly run on “cultural issues,” and most of them are thinly disguised appeals to bias and isms. And as you say, the media does not help. And Musk is there because those people wanted to turn Twitter into another right-wing propaganda machine. I do want to applaud those people who worked so hard in the Georgia election, and the younger people who came out in numbers far from great, but better, in the midterms. But it it is going to take a lot more of that, and someone had better buy or start a large social media platform to fight the propaganda. And you are very right that more should have been done in the last term, but we must consider that when Obama won in 2008, we had a sizeable House Majority, we had about 56 Senate seats, and what did Obama do with it? Essentially nothing, except for ACA , which Pelosi got passed..That was our chance, and Obama was so corporate-minded, and so unwilling to take any political risks, that he let it all go by. And then it got taken away from him, anyway.

      • William, I don’t disagree with you at all about Obama. I was never an Obama supporter. You know that. The Democratic Party seems to be in a constant state of rebuilding since his administration left office. I’m sure there is a sports analogy there but I will leave it to you to make it some day.

        I am very relieved about Warnock’s win. I also applaud him and his hard working Georgia supporters. My criticism of the Democratic Party is not directed toward them. They got the job done. Bravo!

      • Manchin, the only sort of Democrat who could win in West Virginia

        Robert Byrd is is spinning in his grave.

        We lost the blue collar vote when we decided to value globalist kleptocrats over the interests of working people. It started way before Obama, but his duplicity on changing NAFTA didn’t help/

        • The Republicans do not value working people; have not, going back at least as far as 1880. Yet Republicans get 70% or more of the vote in national elections in West Virginia I don’t think that this massive shift in WV is mostly due to economic issues, any more than the shift in Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee It is probably some factor; but, again, what do the WV voters see in Republican policies or candidates to benefit the working men and women? If Sanders and Warren headed a Democratic ticket, they would probably get the same 30% of the vote that Biden and Harris got. McGovern and Mondale did not win that state.Bill Clinton did.

    • Democrats are going to have to get to work and I don’t mean by raising more money from corporate donors

      You are exactly correct, but that is not what will happen, the Democrats are almost as addicted to corporate cash as the Republicans.

      Public financing of elections with NO outside money allowed is the only cure I can see. Obama drove a stake through the heart of public financing, and the GOP was happy about it.

      • Sad but true. I remember after the depressing 2008 election, people on what I still call “the Hillary blogs” (I was one of them) were discussing “what do we focus on now?” I said campaign finance reform. It was a good place to start. Then came Citizens United. Game over. The rats won. I don’t know how we overturn that victory. Ideas?

        • You don’t overturn Citizens United. You overturn Buckley v. Valeo (the decision that gutted the McCain-Feingold finance law).

  2. Fearing the loss of her power to extort and throw a monkey wrench into the Democratic controlled Senate following Warnock’s victory, Kyrsten Sinema has announced she is leaving the Democratic Party to become an an Independent. She refuses to say whether she will caucus with Democrats (no doubt she has certain demands that must be met – nobody puts Baby in the corner) but says she “hopefully” will keep her current committee assignments. Chuck Schumer controls Democratic Senate committee assignments but does he have any control over Sinema? Doubtful. Drama like this we don’t need but she seems to love it. Twirl, Kyrsten, twirl.

  3. If she doesn’t caucus with the Democrats, then what happens to the committees? Will it be like last term where there are an equal number of Ds and Rs on all committees? Does she understand that if that is the case then she has just royally screwed us? But, then I guess she wouldn’t care.

  4. From what I have read, if Sinema doesn’t caucus with Democrats, the committees will have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans just like last term. And, no, she doesn’t care.

    It appears what Sinema wants (along with a bunch of other goodies) is a promise that she won’t be primaried by a Democrat in the 2024 AZ Senate race. I hope the Party will not allow her to hold them hostage to her demands but they probably will.

    Speaking of being held hostage, Sinema’s move will give Manchin continued power in the new Congress. I doubt he will flip parties because why should he? He will be able to demand whatever he wants from Democrats now.

    Nothing will fundamentally change.

    • What a self-indulgent egotist she is–unless someone is running her, which could well be the case. She started her career with the Green Party; could not win, so ran as a Democrat; then became a supporter of big business. Now, the minute Democrats gain 51 Senate seats, she moves to make it 50. This last move seems very much like she is taking advice or orders from the same people who urged Musk to join Twitter.

      Her political career will be over in two years, probably handing the seat to a Republican. But she is going to get as much out of it as she can. Then it is a very lucrative lobbying job, or joining Tulsi Gabbard on Fox News.

      • [U]nless someone is running her, which could well be the case.

        When she ran for Senate, she declared a net worth of $35,000. Two years later, she disclosed a net worth in excess of $1 million. Not too shabby on a salary of $174k.

        Of course someone is running her.

    • I don’t think the party can prevent anyone from mounting a primary challenge. The DSCC (not bound by the DNC charter or bylaws), of course, will do anything to it can to crush a challenger – but that’s what it always does (doubly so if the challenger is even slightly to the Left of Attila the Hun). They’d do the same if anyone tried to primary Manchin.

    • Rep. Ruben Gallego intended to mount a primary challenge against her. By leaving the Democratic Party, she can’t be primaried. That was her reason for doing it. If she runs as an Independent, and with Gallego (or some other Dem) running on the Dem line + the Republican nominee, it would be a 3-way race.

      By the way, among the boatload of comments in the Washington Post on the Sinema article were many from very angry Arizona democrats who voted for her. They feel totally betrayed and rightfully so.

      Roz in NJ/NYC

      • Well, I fully expect the DSCC to support her re-election candidacy even if she doesn’t run as a Democrat – just as it supported Lieberman after he lost the Democratic nomination to Ned Lamont in 2006.

        • @Propertius I don’t think it’s a given that the DSCC will support her re-election. I gather that everybody hates her, and her Arizona numbers are in the toilet. The Democratic voters who feel betrayed, and they are a substantial number, will never vote for her again. From the little I’ve read about him, Rep. Gallego sounds like an excellent candidate, worthy of the party’s support.

          Roz in NJ/NYC

          • Well if they don’t it will mark a real change from their historical tendency to support incumbents (apparently regardless of party), but one never knows I suppose.

            I definitely agree with you about Gallegos.

    • Yes, I was just thinking about Lieberman’s run as an Independent. The DSCC supported him. What a disgrace that was.

      Roz, you are correct of course. When I wrote that Sinema wants a promise that she won’t be primaried, I should have said she wants a promise that she won’t have a Democratic challenger in the general election. Gallego could still run but without the support of the Democratic powers that be. He is probably already getting pressure to abandon his Senate plans. It is a shame. I have liked him since he first ran for the House. He would be an excellent senator for the people of Arizona.

  5. In the same mode, Bernie Sanders says that if Biden does not run in 2024, “he will take a hard look at running again.” Harold Stassen comes to mind, but the genial Stassen never expected to win anything after his first effort, and did not intend to disrupt his party, the Republicans. Sanders, like Sinema, also craves endless attention, and has no sense at all that he was a major factor in getting Trump elected, and the most Radical Right Supreme Court in history almost permanently installed.

    • Fact check: Bernie Sanders didn’t say that.

      Faiz Shakir, director of the nonprofit organization More Perfect Union and former aide to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, was speaking on CBS News. Shakir was asked about Sanders and said, “I assume that he would give it [running again] a hard look. I don’t want to make the judgment for him. Obviously, it would be his choice to make.”

      • Now Beata, you can’t let a little thing like factual accuracy get in the way of Sanders’s status as the official Confluence bête noir. 😉

        • Fair enough; I was rushing through headlines, and mistakenly read it as Sander’s own comment. I will trust that Sanders has had enough of the microphone, and will not indulge in a third primary try.

  6. See RD’s last blog post for the usual Friday night links.

  7. Off topic: I had an appointment with one of my doctors cancelled early this week because he is out sick. I called the office today and he is still sick with a fever. What he has, I don’t know, but you can bet he’s vaxed to the max for Covid, influenza and just about everything else. He is quite sick anyway. Moral of story: Be careful. Covid is surging in many areas of the country and influenza is especially virulent this season. Keep those masks on!

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