Home / General / The Campaign Volunteers of the New Gilded Age

The Campaign Volunteers of the New Gilded Age


Look, I can’t see why everyone is after Steve Stockman just because his campaign headquarters was an overcrowded sweatshop where volunteers lived and worked without safety precautions and was declared unfit for human habitation. Stockman is just living up to the return to the Gilded Age he so desperately wants with his lunatic policies. Every time one of his volunteers gets electrocuted or gets bitten by a rat, that volunteer is doing more to return this nation to the golden past of a century ago.

I can’t see how this hurts him with the Texas voters who seem to think these policies are a great idea. Given the state response to a fertilizer explosion that destroyed half a town is to do nothing and laud your pro-business agenda, Steve Stockman is perfect to represent it in the world’s worst deliberative body.

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  • No venomous snakes + no scorpions = perfectly safe!

    • Schadenboner

      Why do you have to impose your bureaucratic nonsense here? I say let the market decide the optimum snake/scorpion (and spider, let’s not forget those) level and then let volunteers choose which RWNJ candidate to volunteer for.

    • Warren Terra

      I think you’re describing Ireland?

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    kind of like a prison camp, or cult leader’s compound…

    • Gwen

      I am always happy to use the phrase “meth lab of democracy” although generally I would apply it to the Texas Legislature.

      • Matthew Stevens

        Someone has to make a Walter White joke, but I don’t like thinking of them in gas masks and their underwear.

      • Molly Ivins used to call it “The National Laboratory for Bad Government”.

  • Gwen

    It’s a bit insider-baseball, really.

    With that said, the Cornyn money boys are definitely going after Stockman. I saw a link to this on FB yesterday (for some reason every Republican in Texas wants to spam my FB wall):


    I suspect that what little campaigning does happen will be done mostly by third parties (because Stockman is broke and because Cornyn doesn’t want to sully himself) and be really, really negative.

    And yet, I really don’t think the campaign office thing is going to come up much. I think we’re hearing about this now because the Chronicle is trying to do investigative journamalism (their usual top story is “look at all these drunk 20-something rich kids who attended the high-society ball last night!”).

  • TexanD

    Please stop blaming the entire state of 25 M people for the temporary ascendancy of Perry, Cornyn, etc.

    Texas Democrats have a hard enough job without those who should be our allies slamming all Texans as being Republican supporters.

    I really expect better than your Collective guilt trip.

    • Schadenboner

      Then stop talking about “How totes purple Texas really actually is!!!1!!Eleven!!” and go buy some damn paint.

    • That “etc” is doing a lot of work.

      • He had to use “etc…” because his fingers would have fallen off if he’d had to type an entire list of Texas’s Republican transgressors.

    • Yes and before Perry Texas had the completely reasonable Gee Dubya Bush. Perry is just a temporary snafu.

      • Gwen

        Hey I’m nostalgiac for Dubya. Him getting elected President was double-plus-bad for Texas, because we had to deal with him on the federal level as well as Perry down here.

    • Gwen

      It’s true that the current GOP clown show is the fault of 6/11ths (or so) of the half of Texas adults who actually show up to vote, so something like 30 percent of VAP Texans are really to blame here.

      With that said, we really need to increase voter turnout! IIRC Texas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country.

      (and of course the voter ID law is all part of the GOP master plan to keep it that way).

      • Not only that, but unlike CA, Texans registered to vote have to seek out their polling place and do research to see what’s on the ballot, which of course depresses voter turnout of Democrats/librul candidates.

    • njorl

      You got one more chance or we go all Barry Hinson on your ass.

    • Karen

      Fellow Blue Texan here. I respectfully disagree with you one this one. We should make every effort to show exactly how bad the Republicans have screwed our state, including how they have hobbled state government, and made the place into the grossest plutocracy. ( See: Ft Worth judge who sent rich kid killer to ten years at a resort to perfect his dressage instead of prison.). We can’t change the state if no one knows what needs to be changed.

      That said, I would also ask that everyone stop the damned “let the rednecks secede!” talk. There are very bad and very real consequences to abandoning us to the Teahadis. Expose the problems and ridicule those who caused them, them help to change the place to what we know it should be.

      • Gwen

        Whatever we do, we have got to bust the myth of Texas Exceptionalism (Texceptionalism).

        By Texceptionalism I mean the notion that Texas is special, a beacon of free enterprise haunted by the spectre of failed collectivist states (California being People’s Exhibit #1).

        Texceptionalism justifies radical right-wing ideology in Texas the same way that American exceptionalism generaly justifies conservatism in other states. But whereas American exceptionalism defines “them” as actual foreigners (e.g. France), Texceptionalism defines “them” as other Americans who are not right-wing Texans.

        A perfect example of Texceptionalism is John Cornyn’s web ads that have been fearmongering the possibility of Texas becoming a “blue state.”


        The fact is, we can be a progressive, or at least, well-governed state without falling into the same traps that California and New York have.

        But so long as our leaders and a substantial art of the voting public embrace Texceptionalism, we will have a poor quality of life as the result of our “low tax, no service” mentality.

        . . . . . . .

        I would also add that Republicans aren’t the only troublemakers in Texas. Austin has a serious problem with excess crunchyness, which has resulted in us getting neither new roads nor new rails. I seriously hate living in Austin because it’s a mediocre town. We’re the capital of live music because a lot of second-rate musicians and hipsters come here, and then realize they’re too broke to get a bus ticket home. But this is a rant for another time.

        • Gwen

          Although in fairness to Austinites, I grew up in Galveston, where people are dumb enough to believe that living on a sandbar is a good idea.

        • The fact is, we can be a progressive, or at least, well-governed state without falling into the same traps that California and New York have.

          Can’t speak to New York as a comparison, but California had a tax hike recently as a result of the Republicans losing overwhelmingly except in parts of Red California like where I live, so that the Prop 13 obstacle of a 2/3rds majority need for said hike, and it hasn’t been the job killer as depicted in conservative mythology.

        • Karen

          The Austin traffic problem is legendary, and you are soooo correct about rail. I live in Oak Hill, on the southwest side of town, which has been developed for 20 years, but we can’t get light rail out here because the crunchies think that if we’re stuck in traffic long enough we’ll moved to condos downtown. Instead it just makes many of us vote for less-horrid Republicans. Not me, but many of my neighbors.

          • Gwen

            I know, I know. I live in North Austin (thankfully in Naishtat’s district). A little worried the people up 183 a little will vote for Mike VanDeWalle just based on traffic and other stuff.

            Every day I commute on 360, which is actually not as bad as MoPac, but still causes my blood pressure to rise significantly. I used to walk to work when I lived in Galveston. And before that, in Houston, I had to drive but at least the town was *built* for that (Katy Freeway = 10 lanes of awesome).

        • swearyanthony

          Oh noes falling into the same trap as California? You mean raising revenue to meet expenditures? Horrible fate.

    • somethingblue

      No True Texan would be caught dead voting for Perry or Cornyn, not to mention the dastardly Etc.

      • njorl

        etc=execrable Ted Cruz?

        • sibusisodan

          Can’t be, if Loomis’ description above is accurate…

          • njorl

            Posin’ ain’t easy, by Big Daddy Cruz.

    • Tristan

      If only people stopped calling Texans right wing, they’d stop being right wing!

  • David Hunt

    Speaking as another Texas Democrat, this is not the type of post/comment that annoys me. What really gets my goat is when people say that they should let Texas secede from the U.S. or simply force us out. This usually triggers a brief mental framework where I imagine what the new Texas would be like to live in, followed by my willing myself not to curl into a ball under my desk and sob.

    Note that neither Erik nor any other Front Pager here has ever suggested that to my knowledge, but I see it in comments in various places that I read. So as a mark of compassion for the poor saps who’d be stuck living in an independent Texas, please think of them when you suggest that.

    • Karen

      Seconded. It’s bad enough down here without having our so-called friends announce that we should just leave and abandon the place to the barbarians.

      • David Hunt

        Yeah, we like to watch Mad Max movies but we don’t want to live them.

        • Karen

          Exactly. People should remember that the pathologies of a failed state cannot be restricted to within its borders.

          I live in Austin. May I ask where you live?

          • Tristan

            Exactly. People should remember that the pathologies of a failed state cannot be restricted to within its borders.

            Yeah, this. I don’t think the ‘gosh, if only all the gun-loving rednecks had their own country’ types have really thought through the logical ‘Mexico with more capital flying around and a more porous border’ result of Texan secession.

    • How about place the blame where it really belongs? On the state, and national level, party elites. Just for another example. Has anyone seen the Mississippi Democrats website? It looks like GeoCities-era nonsense. And their party HQ is in some house on a residential street covered by trees(according to the most recent picture on Google Maps).

      • Schadenboner

        My assumption has always been that Texas will go purple sometime after the 2021 redistrict (theory being that 2020 as a presidential year will be good for Dem turnout unlike 2010). But given the loss of Democratic seats after the 2012 General I am not sure about this.

        The GOP *are* the masters of institutional lock-in but at some point it is the responsibility of the the state party to actually win elections. The Texas Democratic party (despite talking about an impending demographic wave that will Purple Texas) does not seem to be a realistic partner in this.

        I think the term is “all hat and no cattle” but I don’t speak Texan.

        And Mississippi doesn’t even have the impending demographics on their side. As a prospective investment from the National it’s an even worse bet. Why throw money down a pit?

        • DrS

          If they have any hope of capitalizing on repairing the districts in Texas 2021, the Democratic Party should be actively organizing now.

          Demographics are not destiny.

      • Karen

        Ding ding ding ding!! We! have! a! winner!!!

        The national Dems have used us as funding for other states since Clinton. I can understand not fighting here when our own governor was on the Presidential ballot but abandoning the down ballot races was electoral malpractice.

        • Howard Dean had that idea and Obama tossed him.

          • Schadenboner

            This is lunacy. While the difficulties of the Mississippi Democratic Party are unfortunate they are, in the current alignment of political power in the country, insurmountable.

            No one was going to beat Thad Cochran from the left in 2002 or 2008 or is going to beat him in 2014. It is not within the realm of possibility. And every dollar spent in Mississippi has to come from somewhere. It is a dollar not spent somewhere else. The supply of dollars is limited.

            Would you have the National throwing money into 500-some races (435 House, 33 senate, and for convenience sake let’s say half of the Governor Mansions although that’s not accurate obviously) every two years?

            You can’t spread resources that thin for very long before you start losing races you should otherwise win. And for what? A sense of fairness?

            On a purely realistic level this is why the evisceration of the Preclearance requirement of the VRA, while despicable, causes me less concern that it causes others. With the exception of Virginia and Texas the states affected were not competitive for Democrats for statewide office. The VRA didn’t affect these outcomes and wasn’t going to.

            • Schadenboner

              Or take Wisconsin politics (please…). I wish, with all my political heart, that someone would beat Ryan and Sensenbrenner in 2014. But it isn’t going to happen. So spending money on those races rather than on the Gubernatorial which may be winnable (although I’m not terribly optimistic about unseating Walker).

              Funding campaigns is a triage process: there are the races you’re going to win absent low-probability outcomes (Democrats for the Senate in New York or California or Illinois), races you’re going to lose absent low-probability outcomes (Alabama or Mississippi or Georgia), and races you might win or lose (Wisconsin or Ohio). The point of the game is to spend just enough on the first-kind of race to prevent an improbable loss, then spend as much on as many of the third-kind of races. Races of the second-kind are vanity projects, maybe “worth it” in an ego sense or if you’re self-financing your own race or if you’re establishing credentials for a future third-kind race but it makes little sense to spend national money on them.

              This isn’t an absolute condition thought. Sometimes you can make a third-kind from a second-kind but only by running someone you would rather not have to. I wish Harry Reid were Russ Feingold but that isn’t going to win in Nevada (hell, all it took was a little bit of Koch-kash crypto-antisemitic “Feingold isn’t a real American” to make Wisconsin chuck Russ). So we get, well, Harry Reid.

              Does this excuse Lincolns and Landrieus? That’s a complex question. Would they be acceptable in Massachusets? Obviously not. But if they change a type-two seat to a type-three and can be relied upon on at least some important issues and the alternative is another Teahadi asshole who cannot be relied upon for anything other than Fire-Eater Nullificationism then maybe it does.

    • Yes, freakin’ goddamn yes. I hate the idea that we’re willing to throw out perfectly good Americans and abandon them to the sadistic impulses of the teabaggers.

      If wanting to secede from the union is treasonous, then wanting someone else to secede is just as damn treasonous.

      • What you are losing context with is the “please close the door on your way out” is the response to the tea baggers (and Texans) threatening to leave. They were genuinely surprised by the please do response.

    • Ramon A. Clef

      I’m right there with you when the same types of comments are thrown Florida’s way.

    • Rob in CT

      Yeah, I’ve really come around on this. It only took one time of actually sitting down and trying to imagine what “let ’em seceed” would actually mean for the 30-49% of the (voting) population of [insert Red State here] to smack that right out of my head.

      • Since they aren’t going to secede, and can’t secede, its always more of a thought experiment.

    • efgoldman

      Because random blog commenters have so much influence in the corridors of power. I’ll try and use it wisely.

  • FMguru

    Someone on another board I post to noticed that this is straight out of Atlas Shrugged. Page 205, where Dagny (Rand’s authorial insert character) starts a subsidiary for her family’s railroad company to build a super-awesome new line and headquarters the company in a building that’s literally falling apart:

    Her new headquarters were two rooms on the ground floor of a half-collapsed structure. The structure still stood, but its upper stories were boarded off as unsafe for occupancy. Such tenants as it sheltered were half-bankrupt, existing, as it did, on the inertia of the momentum of the past.

    She liked her new place: it saved money. The rooms contained no superfluous furniture or people. The furniture had come from junk shops. The people were the best choice she could find.

    • Wow. Stockman is living the Randian dream!

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        with his workers living the Randian nightmare

        although I might be kidding myself – they might all be rich kids slumming for a while, for kicks

    • I love it: she shares space with bankrupts and losers but they do it because they have to and she does it because she’s thrifty.

  • JL

    “I could not have done it without all the hard-working, grass-roots volunteers. Believe me, we had them — young conservatives who came into an old motorcycle shop, worked the precincts and made phone calls, slept on the floor, and ate MREs [Army rations] for their three meals. There’s nothing like volunteers who believe in a candidate and a cause.”

    Why the hell would they need to eat MREs (ewww) and sleep on the floor to work 16 hours a day or whatever on the campaign? Webster appears to be a town of 10,400 people. I’m sure they have grocery stores that sell the materials for sandwiches and other quick options, cheap restaurants that do delivery, and volunteers in town with couches that the out-of-towners could sleep on.

  • FMguru

    It’s nice that JenBob let’s Stockman crash at his pad, but would it kill him to clean things up a little?

  • UserGoogol

    I’m not terribly concerned about “sweatshop conditions” for political volunteers. There’s not really anything keeping them there, so if people are volunteering to work in filth because they believe in what they’re doing then let them. (Although since it was closed for fire code reasons, that’s not just a work conditions issue anymore. People can be in filth if they want, but when they’re at risk of catching themselves on fire that starts to affect other people.)

    But jeez, would it really be hard to rent something a little bit nicer? Even if the volunteers are okay with it this is just bad optics. A little bit of roughness makes it feel more grassroots, but this is just silly.

  • The photos are special; somehow they just exude Sketchy America. Is that a drugs lab? The scene of a double murder? The base of a religious cult? The lodgings of desperate immigrants? The backdrop to a trashy porno vid? The putrid, cheeto-dust mancave of an Internet troll? All those things at once? No. It’s a Texas Republican campaign office.

    Given he’s the guy who was holding an AR-15 raffle, I’m only surprised there are no firearms on view.

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