In telling us to organize at a state and local level, the loudest mouths are setting out two goals for progressives at once: keeping us fighting, and rebuilding the Democratic Party. Those aims aren’t necessarily linked, but they seem to be presented that way. And, prior to November 8th, that would have made some kind of sense.
Local politics should certainly be a progressive focus. State legislatures control the shape of congressional districts in many states, and counties run elections. Even if you don’t get complete control of those structures, you at least want enough power to observe and raise a stink, should it be required.
Rebuilding the Democratic Party is also an important goal, since the credibility of the whole thing just went down in flames. The fact that the DNC’s leadership and bureaucracy is still firmly in place makes it clear that not everybody is on board with this idea, at least where their own jobs are concerned. “We should absolutely rebuild. And no, I’m not leaving.”
But putting those two goals together creates the impression that what the Democrats really need is a farm system where they can train up promising rookies, who will then take the national stage and start winning elections again.
There’s a couple problems with this, though. For one thing, it’s going to take forever; long enough that a Republican president, congress, and Supreme Court will have made the Democratic party moot by that point anyway. The other problem is that this is not how the GOP rebuilt. The reason we find ourselves in this new waking nightmare is the result of throwing piles of unqualified (but ideologically pure) candidates at every open position, from dog catcher to congress-person. The leader of their party is now an elderly white guy with no previous experience in government. (Hell, even Reagan had Governor of California under his belt before he got the chance to nap through eight years of being president.)
No, I don’t know what any of this means. But I would just make the case that Democrats should probably not put “governing experience” high on their list of criteria when recruiting for the new public face of their party.