Sunday Commentary: Your Old Road Is Rapidly Aging

A former Marine speaks on the Affordable Care Act

Please Get Out of the New One If You Can’t Lend Your Hand

Last Sunday a town hall meeting at the Veteran’s Memorial in Davis turned out hundreds of people.  A few days later, a meeting by Indivisible Yolo also packed the same facility. These events would have been extraordinary even last year, but now they have become par for the course.

It is too soon to know what this will all mean.  The New York Times column this morning warns, “Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous. But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right.”

However, it is worth noting that the pundits were dismissive of the Tea Party Movement.  They did not foresee the rise of Donald Trump either.

There is an inevitable clash between the old guard and the new guard in the rise of a new wave of progressive energy.  However, as Marcos Moulitsas told the New York Times, “The Tea Party didn’t really become a force until it started ousting Republicans it didn’t feel represented them.”

He said, “Democrats either need to feed, nurture and aggressively champion the resistance, or they need to get out of the way in favor of someone who will.”

We saw this at play this week.  John Garamendi held a town hall meeting on Sunday.  On the one hand he sympathized with the crowd demanding he fight.  But on the other hand, he pointed out that the reality is the “House is controlled by Republicans” and “there is not much Democrats can do.”  “That’s the reality,” he said.  “And it’s 18 months to the next election.”

Roberta Millstein on Monday wrote in the Vanguard, “I have heard mixed reactions to Representative John Garamendi’s overflowing town hall event on Sunday evening.  Some were pleased with his liberal approach, especially with respect to immigration, which is understandably on people’s minds.”

She added, “Others were frustrated that he seemed always to stop just short of where he needed to be.  I count myself in the second camp.”

For Ms. Millstein, she wanted answers to some key questions.  However, “On Sunday, I heard instead an extended explanation about the limitations you face as a Democrat in a Republican-controlled Congress.  Everything you say is true.  We want you to fight anyway.  We are there to fight with you.  But we need you to be bolder.  Be bolder for us, Representative Garamendi.”

Emily Hill on Tuesday wrote in the Vanguard, “I don’t know exactly what I was expecting. I had never met Rep. Garamendi before, and although I was disappointed he attended Trump’s inauguration, my general sense was that Garamendi was a good Democrat who would oppose Trump’s creeping fascism and racism.  I went into the town hall interested and very much on Garamendi’s side.”

She said, “I certainly didn’t expect to leave the town hall deeply frustrated with and disappointed in the congressman.”

I’m not here to attack or defend John Garamendi.  Back in 2009, I, with a whole host of other bloggers from around the state, sat down with Mr. Garamendi as he pondered running for governor again in 2010.  He would ultimately decide to run for congress rather than governor – a good decision.

But we sat down in a coffee shop around the table for 90 minutes as he held court – this man knew policy like I had never seen anyone.  He is a policy wonk, he knew the ins and outs and the details and could probably have talked for hours if his staff had let him.

There are probably few in Washington who understand policy better than John Garamendi, but in his early 70s and at the end of his career, he was never going to lead a revolution anyway, and he’s not now.

In a way, he represents an interesting test for the new movement – do they join common cause with him as someone who, as Ms. Hill put it, “is clearly on the right side for many of the important issues facing the nation”?

Or do they turn on him because, as she it put it: “On the most important topic of the moment, the topic that clearly is motivating so much passionate grassroots energy, Rep. Garamendi fell frustratingly short.  Rep. Garamendi completely failed to pick up the vibe of a crowd that was desperate for leadership and strong public stances against Trump.”

That is going to be an interesting test.

A day after Ms. Hill’s piece, Congressman Garamendi called on a full investigation into the Trump administration’s communications with the Russian government.

“It seems that every day, the public wakes up to another bombshell about the Trump Administration’s deep ties to the Russian Government,” said Congressman Garamendi.

He added, “National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign for lying about his communications with Moscow before President Trump took office. At the same time, news broke that Trump’s senior campaign aides were caught having conversations with Russian officials. The American public deserves a full accounting of this Administration’s connections to Russia, as well as Russia’s corrosive influence on the 2016 election. Congressional leaders need to stop putting their party above country and join us to safeguard our democracy against foreign influence.”

Is that going to be enough for the new movement?

Some of that will depend on the direction and energy of groups like Indivisible Yolo.  In a report from CNN, they note, “In the summer of 2009 it was the tea party, which pretty much declared war on President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and health care proposals.  In the winter of 2017 it’s Indivisible, a group that’s pretty much opposed to all things Trump.”

When the group turned out 170 or so people in front of John Garamendi’s office in Davis in the middle of the day with a huge number of people new to politics, you had to start taking it seriously.

One thing that groups like Indivisible and other activists have a chance to do is transform local politics.  The Vanguard has been critical of the country club/social club nature of local politics, which has tended to have the same old people who have been active for decades.  That leadership has grown gray and stale.

But, as we saw in early January, a wave of activists took over organizations like the Assembly Democratic Caucuses and filled them with new and more progressive voices.

Will that carry over to local politics?  One early test might be a backlash to the MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle) which is being heard before the Yolo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

One thing that has been lost on the progressive movement has been a deep farm system.  The Republicans had a deep field of candidates a year ago that seemed young and vibrant, to challenge for their nomination.  The Democrats had Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Can the wave of progressivism transform Yolo County and also other counties to bring in a new crop of progressive candidates that can start at the local levels and move up the ranks?

These are all questions for the future but, in the meantime, it will be interesting to see how this new wave of energy is able to transform local politics which really need to have a new influx of energy.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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41 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Your Old Road Is Rapidly Aging”

  1. Keith O

    The “resistance”.  It sounds like the French Resistance.  It’s a dangerous game that leftists are playing these days with the tactics they’re putting in place and using to try and usurp this president.  As always the party in charge will run its course and down the road the other party will take power and start their ruling cycle.   But with the hate, hysteria and actions that leftists are now exhibiting it might cause conservatives to play the same game when they’re dealing with the next liberal president.  Just something to think about, and remember that conservatives have more guns.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I think you need to start defining terms because you are using leftists interchangeably with liberals and the reality is that while earlier in the week, you were surprised to see liberals turning on their own, part of the problem is you are failing to differentiate between progressives, liberals and leftists. Leftists I would argue are radicals outside of the mainstream. Progressives are the more extreme and populist part of the left and they don’t view the Garamendi’s as “their own”. By using these terms interechangeably you are missing a lot of nuance.

      1. Tia Will


        Leftists I would argue are radicals outside of the mainstream. “

        And I think that any labels miss the richness and variability of people’s beliefs. One example. While I am far to the left of almost everyone I know in terms of my beliefs in  both human and economic equity, which might make some want to label me as a “leftist”, I am also a pacifist which pretty much excludes me from being categorized along with the militant left.

        I see this tendency to label as opposed to considering the nuances of and reasons for the beliefs of another as one major component of the seemingly intractable ideologic divide we are now seeing play out on multiple levels.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          But my point is that there are actually separate groups and while they may have some overlap, labeling them all the same conflates the issue. You have the black box radical, you have the core Bernie supporters, and you have the mainstream left which backed Hillary in the primary.

        2. Keith O

          Okay, okay, those on the left side of the political spectrum, whatever you want to label yourselves.  In my opinion those on the ‘left side of the political spectrum’ are spewing hatred and hysteria and playing a dangerous game.  Your actions now might come back and bite you in the ass down the road when your guy/girl is in power.

        3. David Greenwald


          But you’re missing my point here.  There are some people who are spewing hatred.  There are some people who are expressing frustration.  There are some people mobilizing for change.  You are lumping them all into one category and I don’t think that paints an accurate picture.

    2. Tia Will


      It’s a dangerous game that leftists are playing these days with the tactics they’re putting in place and using to try and usurp this president.”

      Interesting that I do not recall your former incarnation on the Vanguard being disturbed or calling these same tactics “a dangerous game” when they were being utilized by those on your end of the political spectrum during Obama’s years in office.

      1. Keith O

        Didn’t you just the other day scold me for bringing up Obama and saying he’s no longer president and to move on?  So is Obama’s name only to be used by you when you want to make a point?

        The hate and hysteria now being shown by Trump’s detractors doesn’t compare at all to the Obama years.  It’s now being ramped up to a disgusting level and I’m afraid it’s setting a new precedent that political parties in our country will never accept the other side’s president.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          The left is emulating and escalating what they saw starting eight years ago. I would argue that the circumstances are more extreme than ever before, but maybe you see this as business as usual. I think there is a real chance that this nation doesn’t survive.

        2. Howard P

          Actually based what has been said by many of the Prez candidates and their supporters, it appears to me that BOTH the ‘right’ and the ‘left’ are “itching for a fight”…

        3. Tia Will


          I believe that you ignored the hatred when generated by those on your side who set the precedent, and are only now finding it dangerous and offensive when it is your side that is targeted. Predictably enough, I found the hate and fear mongering most dangerous when it was done prior to and on the campaign trail by the current POTUS.

        4. Keith O

          As David wrote:  “That’s your view perhaps”

          Obama served 8 years. Were their riots in the streets? Did conservatives bash buildings, start fires, etc?

          Yes there was the Tea Party but for the most part they were peaceful. It’s a whole new ballgame now being perpetuated by the left. As you like to say, you now own it.

        5. David Greenwald

          So this is where I start having a huge disagreement with you.  This article was about local actions – Yolo Indivisible hasn’t had any riots, they haven’t bashed buildings, they haven’t started fires.  So you are painting a very broad brush here.  And this article wasn’t about a broad brush, it was very specific.

        6. Tia Will


          Didn’t you just the other day scold me for bringing up Obama and saying he’s no longer president and to move on?  So is Obama’s name only to be used by you when you want to make a point?”

          Once again, I cannot tell whether you truly cannot perceive a difference or are choosing not to in favor of scoring a “gotcha” point. I make a distinction between calling out the individual actions of one man, Obama ( no longer in charge) and POTUS ( at least ostensibly currently in charge) with the ongoing actions of large numbers of people. You may not make such a distinction, but it is apparent and clear to me and therefore not at all hypocritical.

    3. Tia Will


      But with the hate, hysteria and actions that leftists are now exhibiting it might cause conservatives to play the same game when they’re dealing with the next liberal president.  Just something to think about, and remember that conservatives have more guns.”

      Also of interest is that you do not seem to consider the ‘birtherism” or calling Obama a jihadist from Kenya who desires to destroy the United States as either hatred or hysteria. And finally, something for you to think about. Is having the largest number of guns really the way you want to see political disputes handled in this country ?  I cannot tell whether or not you were attempting a joke with that last line, but either way, there are some of us who believe that this is a possible outcome of the current administration’s thought processes and are quite unsettled by the prospect.


  2. Kropp1

    Ironically the title of your piece reflects a USA observation about us that did not shock me, but made me pause,  and does assess us as in need of revitalization. The topic was water and the editorial comment was, “California is overwhelmed by an aging flood control system.” And that is the point. Many of us have gotten older. The American Indians speak much about the strength of spirit in water. With so much now (water and concerned citizens) so too can we channel our resolve to change  the direction we are headed in politically. And as the stream becomes a river, in my opinion, change the landscape as it now appears. It is time to choose between the two options you presented and ask our congressman to represent the one we pick.

      1. John Hobbs

        Thanks, Doctor Kropp, David has yet to explain the exceptions to his “real name” policy and of course as owner he is under no obligation to do so, but I think it does go to his and The Vanguard’s credibility that certain individuals are given cover

        1. David Greenwald

          Funny you say that, but I just finished a draft of the new policy.  But the policy has been explained as has the policy that you take editorial and moderation discussions off line – for good reason, since it distracts from the policy and content discussion.

  3. Tia Will

    he pointed out the reality is that the “House is controlled by Republicans” and “there is not much Democrats can do.” 

    I would like to point out that this was the position of the Tea Party during the first years of Obama’s presidency and there was plenty that they could and did do. Although I am less critical of Mr. Garamendi than some progressives, maybe because I have been around longer than most and have seen many swings in political power, I do believe that his statement was unnecessarily defeatist given the success of the Tea Party in bringing about what I see as undesirable change.

  4. Tia Will

    Frankly, because I am, I would rather see the country collapse than live under a fascist dictatorship. I suspect that this may be because I live in California and see a reasonable chance that we could resist the most egregious effects of this form of governance. However, I would also admit that it may be partly due to the fact that I am affluent enough to be able to leave the country with my family if it appeared that this were the inevitable outcome.

    1. Keith O

      fascist dictatorship

      And who’s implementing that?

      I am affluent enough to be able to leave the country with my family if it appeared that this were the inevitable outcome

      Wow, good for you.


      1. Tia Will


        And who’s implementing that?”

        I believe that this is the direction that Bannon and his far right supporters including David Duke and other members of the KKK and similar groups would like to take the country. As Bannon once said “…Trump is a blunt instrument” for their agenda. The fact that POTUS himself is steadfastly unconcerned about the incidents of white hate crimes at least in his public announcements, I see as evidence that he is either a supporter of this philosophy himself or at least does not object to this philosophy from his closest advisers in the persons of Bannon, Miller and the like.

        POTUS himself in an interview which I have previously referenced, in his own words spoke in favor of the philosophy of eugenics although he did not identify it by that name, but rather alluded to his own “good German blood” and stated more tellingly his belief that a “superior male” mated with a “superior female” will result in a “superior offspring”. This is the heart of eugenics, a believer in which is now the occupant of the WH.

    2. Howard P

      All… please find your “drama” control setting, and turn to lowest setting… the sky is not falling… there are scuddy clouds, tho’… the more drama, the more divisiveness, invective, etc.

      History shows dictatorships do not turn out well for the dictator.

      1. Tia Will


        History shows dictatorships do not turn out well for the dictator.”

        While this is true, it is equally true that events frequently work out very, very badly for certain elements of the population before the tide turns against the dictator. It is this aspect that has me worried. Once does not need to invoke Godwin’s rule to know that this has been true in multiple countries during our lifetimes.


  5. Ron

    Tia:  “Frankly, because I am . . .”

    Ha!  (I miss that guy, especially in debates like this with you.)  No one quite like him, really. You were a great counterbalance, and together provided some of the greatest and most entertaining debates, on the Vanguard. “Frankly” drew others to respond, as well.

  6. Ken Wagstaff

    I thought the Vanguard had changed its policy,  and that respondents must now identify themselves. I favor this policy because it improves both civility and logical argument. Normally identifying oneself means using a first and last name.  I am not an everyday reader but it appears this morning that there are exceptions?

    Ken Wagstaff

  7. Tia Will

    More hysteria?”

    Nope. Everything that I wrote about Bannon, Duke, the KKK, and Trump’s statements regarding the superiority of blood lines is verifiable and on tape. You could look them all up, but I suspect that you would prefer not to since it is far easier to just claim I am hysterical than to check for veracity.

      1. Howard P

        Clarification… you wrote,

        Hysteria is definitely a word that should not be used to try to devalue the opinions of others

        A)   no words should be used to DEVALUE the OPINIONS of others, per the VG guidelines, right?

        B)   hope you don’t have a problem with the word, or its derivatives, if saying something is “hysterically funny”, etc.

        Note that some words/phrases are now somewhat verboten, altho’ their roots are clean…

  8. Linda Deos

    The Indivisible movement, Yolo Indivisible included, is part of a broader response to the call by Senator Sanders to bring Progressive issues into politics. Here in Yolo County alone we now have the Yolo Country Progressives and the Berniecrats-Labor Alliance working to become chartered Democratic clubs. Also, look at the slate of Progressives elected as Democratic delegates. Each of us working together locally, regionally, and nationally can bring Progressive issues into the mainstream. Volunteer for one of these organizations and/or come to the Board of Supervisor’s meeting tomorrow and express your opposition to militarizing local law enforcement.  Change begins locally!

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