Our local political extremists ought to learn from Dahle’s big win

Dahle_t607Make no doubt about it: Brian Dahle is a conservative. But he’s found a way to win respect from the left and the middle because he’s an advocate for nonpartisan issues. One example that I support: More state funding for California’s fairs, an “economic engine” for rural communities.  Here’s what Dahle had to say about it.

In short, Dahle is not an ideologue like Tom McClintock or Doug LaMalfa or some of our local “electeds.” He takes a nonpartisan issue that is important to our community and carries water for it. McClintock and LaMalfa, meanwhile, voted to shut down the government based on ideology. That hurt businesses in their district.

And guess what? Dahle won big this week. Real big. In our County, he won by bigger margins that McClintock, LaMalfa or any local conservative for that matter.

imgresBy contrast, look at the polarizing (and “toxic”) elections in District 3 — more of a “cat fight.” Dan Miller beat incumbent Terry Lamphier by a few hundred votes in a supervisor race marked by personal attacks. In fact, Lamphier has proven to be a good listener as a supervisor. He supported a cottage food law and voted for the Rincon del Rio project.

No matter what side you’re on, a few hundred votes isn’t much of a margin. The concerns raised by Lamphier about “smart growth” aren’t going away. Now he may run for City Council.

As I’ve said before, I’m happy with the supervisor representation we receive: Nate Beason in Nevada County and Jennifer Montgomery in Placer County. Beason is GOP and Montgomery is a Democrat.

But both will embrace nonpartisan issues rather than spout ideology. One example: Our county’s recent vegetation ordinance. (I do think the fire districts should be the ones to enforce this, however. They have the most clout).

The political extremists in our community — the hard right and tea party types — could learn from Dahle’s success. Most of us are in the middle and looking for reasonable representation, not rigid ideology.

One of the reasons for low voter turnout is that many people are disgusted by our polarizing politics, including the local races. All “electeds” ought to be thinking about that.





Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

17 thoughts on “Our local political extremists ought to learn from Dahle’s big win”

  1. Assuming this data from this site is correct (http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/82387/brian-dahle#.U5CUhXJdV8E), I think Dahle’s votes speak for themselves and they are a deal breaker for me. Why would I want another right-wing voting ideologue in a power position even if he is a nice guy and occasionally votes center? He votes extreme right wing way too much. Giving him a break on this is politically obtuse. More of the center and left acting like Charlie Brown while Lucy keeps yanking the football. If we want to stem the curse of the lying, denying conservative politics that poison our country these days, we need to rid our system of all of the politicians who sleep with them, Dahle included.
    AB 800 Authorizes the Fair Political Practices Commission to Conduct Audits and Investigations Voted Nay
    AB 241 Expands Labor Laws for Domestic Workers Voted Nay
    AB 60 Authorizes Driver’s License for Undocumented Immigrants Voted Nay
    SB 359 Appropriates Funds for Hybrid and Zero Emission Vehicle Use Voted Nay
    AB 48 Prohibits Large-Capacity Magazines and Large-Capacity Conversion Kits Voted Nay
    SB 396 Limits Firearm Magazine Capacity Voted Nay
    SB 755 Expands List of Crimes that Disqualify an Individual from Firearm Ownership Voted Nay
    AB 4 Prohibits Law Enforcement from Detaining Individuals Solely Based on Immigration Status Voted Nay
    AB 711 Prohibits Lead Ammunition for Hunting Voted Nay
    SB 374 Prohibits Semiautomatic Rifles with Detachable Magazines Voted Nay
    AB 154 Authorizes Certain Individuals to Perform Aspiration Abortion Procedures Voted Nay
    AB 10 Increases Minimum Wage Voted Nay
    AB 48 Prohibits Large Capacity Magazines Voted Nay
    AB 60 Authorizes Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants Voted Nay
    AB 4 Prohibits Law Enforcement From Detaining Individuals Based Solely on Immigration Status Voted Nay

    1. Eric,
      No doubt about it. In our neck of the woods, it’s par for the course. We’re sort of caught between a rock and a hard place, however, because no “progressive” will be elected in Dahle’s district. I am glad to see him carrying water for some nonpartisan issues where he can really move the needle. On the instances you cite, he is outvoted most of the time. California is a “D” state.

  2. Based on my own experience, some of the most conniving, deceitful political extremists I had to deal with during my sixteen years on the city council were men and women purporting to be liberals. Some of them, of course, continue to control local politics as private citizens.

    In my opinion, extreme liberals and extreme conservatives need to share the blame for what has been happening in recent years.

    Citizens in District 1 are fortunate to have Nate as their county supervisor, but I fear what will happen when he eventually decides not to run for another term. It will be an open invitation for extremists on both sides of the spectrum to sharpen their fangs. And that will not be good for Nevada City or District 1.

    1. Steve, thanks for your service to the community for so many years. I always appreciated your frankness and reasonableness even when our positions on local matters weren’t always in agreement.

      My concern with conservatives is not so much on the local level, you will find extremists of both stripes there without fail. But rather, I’m concerned with the mainstreaming of un-warranted right-wing extremism at the regional, state and national level. Compared to left-wing extremism, it is off balance by at least and order of magnitude perhaps two. Many older Americans who lived through the McCarthy era say that they have never seen America so dysfunctional. That dysfunction is firmly rooted in the political actions of today’s right-wing (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lets-just-say-it-the-republicans-are-the-problem/2012/04/27/gIQAxCVUlT_story.html).

      For example, an entire party spent tens of millions of dollars casting thousands of useless, foolish votes (40 bills * 200 reps ~ 8000 votes) wasting time they could have been using to offer helpful legislation while the country suffered through its worst economic time in 80 years, just to “prove” to their base that they really, really didn’t like the ACA, despite mounds of evidence that it would help Americans across the board. In the political equivalent of an orangutan banging on its bars to get attention, they stomped their feet and cast those worthless votes 40 times and in a final fit, punished the American economy at the cost of $24 billion dollars last fall shutting down the government before the legitimately-passed law even had a chance. There is no equivalent to this on the left or in the center..

      An entire field of right-wing Presidential candidates declared their adamant non-belief in something they simply don’t want to understand. Members of the conservative party, from our local reps all the way to Senators, are routinely lying and denying facts because they can’t win a debate on the merits. But winning by sabotage suits them fine as long as they can grab power. The founders would wring their necks if they could.

      We need to call a spade a spade. For too long the political left and center have been ceding ground by offering up concessions that are never, ever offered in return. The Overton window (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window) has gone way to the right in the last 20 years. How else to explain the utter lack of discussion and consideration of a public health care option (despite perhaps 20-30% support for it in the electorate), and how else to explain how a conservative-hatched policy (Obamacare is a Heritage Foundation idea that provides a huge benefit to private insurance companies) becomes a socialist government takeover in the minds of many, and how else to explain that the denial of climate change facts are embraced by nearly half the country?

      Conservatives will just shrug when the climate changes and the earth’s living suffer unnecessarily and I doubt anyone will be able to then make them pay the price for their abdication of responsibility (ludicrously calling themselves “the party of personal responsibility”). So society needs to ensure that they pay a price now before it is too late (sic). Do that by identifying those that cast extreme votes, do everything possible to vote them out and restore the Overton window to the center where it belongs in a civil society. Why give anti-immigration, anti-woman and anti-Second Amendment (gun control is in the first four words of the 2nd Amendment, “A well regulated militia…”) Brian Dahle a fluff piece when he’d vote right along with extremists on major issues that damage our long term viability? Giving Dahle a warm fuzzy based on parochial issues is politically obtuse, and I believe is an unwitting mechanism for moving the O-window to the right.

      1. Thanks Eric.

        You should be more concerned about the efforts underway to infiltrate our local “nonpartisan” government agencies, courts and schools with like-minded political ideology. Read on: https://sierrafoothillsreport.com/2014/05/30/scoop-meckler-mcclintock-aide-contractors-met-to-form-tea-party-managed-pac-now-targeting-60-board-commission-seats-in-county-with-like-minded-candidates/

        As for Dahle, as a state Assemblyman, I’m glad for the support he is providing on nonpartisan issues that directly impact his district. He is an “R” voting in a sea of “Ds,” and he otherwise would be ineffective in representing his constituents if he didn’t choose a few bipartisan issues to support.

        An example of that kind of politician is Dan Logue, which is more typical around here. So a Dahle vs. a Logue? I’ll vote for Dahle. The Logue’s of the world always end up losing as they creep toward the Coast (i.e., the Logue-Garamendi race).

        Now if you’re talking about real change, electing a “D” in a rural district, that’s another matter. But the local “D”‘s largely are weak at getting out the vote, organizing, etc., compared with the local “R”s. In our county, for example, the “R”‘s are better organizers.

      2. Thanks Eric- Very well said- “it is off balance by at least an order of magnitude perhaps two” or three. While our economy balances on thin ice, again, the “right” is still holding our country hostage. With more concern over abortion, guns, and rigging the voting system under the guise of “voter fraud”.

      3. Eric:

        Thanks for the kind words –– it was a most interesting sixteen years.

        Yes, my comments were in the context of the local political scene and not regional, state or national, but that’s always been my focus. I would often rhetorically ask people “Who has a greater impact on your day-to-day life? Local public officials, or the folks in Sacramento and Washington, DC? ”

        So in that context I share Jeff’s concerns about the direction local “nonpartisan” politics has taken in recent years. Where Jeff and I might differ a bit, is that I believe the liberal power brokers in Nevada City are just as deceitful and nasty as any conservative group, and they are ready to pounce on any conservative who dares to challenge their preferred officeholders and candidates –– both city council and BOS.

        If a conservative decides to run for Nate’s seat, watch out. The liberal extremists will be just as nasty as conservative extremists.

        Jeff might be right –– that since Duane is a decent guy who seems capable of working with all factions, he might be an acceptable candidate for liberals. I don’t think that would be the case, but time will tell. (And if Duane is as smart as I think he is, he won’t be a BOS candidate).

        Meanwhile, I don’t even want to think of how campaigns for regional, state and national offices will be conducted during the September-November crunch time. It could get ugly. Very ugly. And my guess is that the ugliness will come from extremists on both extremes of the political spectrum.

        Naturally, they will point fingers at each other and claim they are merely addressing facts and that the political food fight is the fault of the other extremists. Sure. You bet.

        Always enjoy your contributions to this blog, Eric –– keep it up.

  3. Thanks Steve. But in Nevada City it is liberals vs. liberals fighting. If Nate decides not to run again, I would support someone such as Duane Strawser. I happily signed his papers to run when he came to the door.

    1. Jeff:

      Your point is well taken re: liberals vs. liberals in Nevada City these days, but I served with several conservatives as well, and without exception they were good people who ran positive campaigns and got elected despite some mean-spirited tactics from their liberal opponents.

      The point I was trying to make was that extreme conservatives are not the only folks guilty of running nasty campaigns with mudslinging ads and twisted facts. Extreme liberals can be just as nasty and deceitful –– inside and outside of Nevada City.

      In my adult life I have been a Republican, (because I met Goldwater and never met LBJ), a Democrat, a Libertarian, and for many years a registered nonpartisan. My liberal friends tell me I’m too conservative and my conservative friends say I’m too liberal.

      I’ve been clubbed, tear-gassed and arrested for my liberal beliefs, but I’ve never hesitated to work against liberals who leave their moral compass locked away in a dark closet when they decide to run for office.

      Duane’s a good guy who has the best interests of Nevada City at heart, but if he ever runs for county supervisor, his liberal friends will eat him for lunch as they do whatever it takes to get one their own elected. For Duane’s sake, I hope he sticks to 317 Broad Street and leaves the Rood Center for others.

      1. Steve,
        Duane is good at building bipartisan support. The liberal “snake pit” you refer to is largely a thing of the past. The tea party is causing the most rancor in our community right now.

  4. Dahle represents the status quo. Hall represents real change. The status quo sucks. Therefore, I’m supporting Hall.

  5. Hall is running against LaMalfa, not Dahle. I voted for LaMalfa once, but after he voted to shut down the government, among other things, I voted for Hall. I voted for Dahle too. It’s a real struggle to vote around here if you’re “in the middle.”

  6. The main reason for low voter turnout is our antiquated electoral system where the electorate doesn’t feel like they have any true representation. Why vote if the person who is running has other interests to take care of before the people. We are only one of a handful of nations who still uses winner take all democratic electoral system. Out of the over 100 “democratic governments” on the planet less than five use our 220 year old system.

    Personally I voted for Dahle not because I agree with his politics but I trust his integrity as a person who will try to represent his constituents in the best way possible. I have no problem living in a conservative area with conservative reps in government as long as they understand not everybody is conservative in their district and their needs/ wants are factored into the votes.

    Where the problem lies is with having two gigantic institutions controlling leaderships, committee appointments, legislation, and votes in our our government. It is about the self preservation of the Republican or Democratic Party not good governance. Where I agree with both R’s and D’s is when they point the finger at the other party to place blame. We have had two political parties in control of our government (local,state, federal) for over a 150 years and they both share all the credit and blame for the condition of our nation today.

  7. Here is an interesting link to election data globally.

    Australia has voter turnout in the mid 90% every election since it is a pretty steep progressive fine if a person doesn’t vote. We need to make voting dates state and federal holidays or on weekends. We need to move to a more democratic electoral process such as IRV that promotes diversity not partisanship that is boiled down to the least worst choice. We know any form of democracy is in trouble when the core argument for voting for a candidate is that it isn’t the other candidate. I cannot tell you how many times I have had that conversation with very intelligent and some not so intelligent people. The one underlying message we should always take from the founders of our nation is nothing is impossible if we are willing to stand up and fight for it. Just because we have winner take all elections doesn’t mean we cannot change it. From all the reading I have done on James Madison, he would have loved proportional representation or instant run off voting. Washington, Madison, and Jefferson for sure were anti political parties at the beginning but when the federalists jumped out in control it forced Madison and Jefferson to become anti federalist and Washington had the luxury of resigning his post after two terms because he saw what lied ahead in partisan bs.

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