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« Sacred ground | Main | Reconquest »

Aug 08, 2010

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justcorbly

I'd bet the majority of adults in this state cannot name both of our senators. Takers?

Steve Harrison

I brought this up a couple of weeks ago, and was told via e-mail by someone on the campaign staff that I wasn't helping the cause by asking those questions.

And I'm probably not helping the cause by talking about the e-mail itself, but when the media barrage by the Burr campaign hits in the weeks leading up to November, it'll be too late to ask about missing support.

eric

"Can you name your state's two Senators" is among the questions that are asked on the U.S. Citizenship exam. I seriously doubt that a majority of adults in any state could answer that question correctly. Sadly, a quick Google search failed to turn up any surveys to confirm that hunch, though I did find an item about a recent survey in which 2/3 of respondents could not name even one sitting member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

More on-topic, Occam's Razor suggests that the most likely explanation to the apparent conundrum Ed identifies is the simplest: the DSCC aren't seriously interested in maintaining, let alone expanding, the current Democratic numbers in the Senate. They prefer being able to blame the GOP for the Democrats' own fecklessness while ostensibly in control. Among other things, this situation makes it far easier to blow off all the empty promises to the party's "progressive" constituency, while continuing to rein in the stray sheep with endless promises of jam tomorrow.

To borrow the tag line that Sam sometimes borrows from the great pundit John Lydon: Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

justcorbly

I think, Eric, that the only people who care what the DSCC thinks are people hoping it will send them a bag or two of cash. If the DSCC actually prefers blaming Republicans over electing more Democrats -- something I very much doubt -- it's not like very many people are listening.

The most salient fact about Obama's adminstration to date is his lack of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Obama has actually had a rather striking legislative record so far, despite those numbers. But, if the Dems -- real Dems, not the DINO variety -- held at least 61 votes in the Senate, I think we would have seen the passage of more legislation of a considerably more progressive tone.

People who expected Obama to usher in an instant era of progressive heaven keep chattering at him to "do something". They ignore the fact that president's can't do anything without the votes.

And, since a unified GOP is deliberately obstructing the Senate, and since the GOP presided over eight years that saw the deficit explode while the rich got richer and the rest of us got poorer, and corporate earnings shifted dramatically from a productive jobs-creating manufacturing base to an unproductive jobs-destroying financial base, assigning at least some share of responsibility to the GOP seems only fair.

Remember, Republicans might have chosen to pass laws preventing people from selling mortgages to people they knew couldn't afford them, then selling the mortgages to speculators who stood to make more money if those mortages failed. But, they did not. They might have chosen not to increase their deficit by $700 billion to bail out their kindred spirits, the scammers on Wall Street. But they did. So here we are.

designation

The DSCC cares nothing about electing Democrats.

They didn't even put up a candidate in South Dakota.

John Thune (R-SD) has a walk, and the DSCC did nothing.

eric

"since the GOP presided over eight years that saw the deficit explode while the rich got richer and the rest of us got poorer, and corporate earnings shifted dramatically from a productive jobs-creating manufacturing base to an unproductive jobs-destroying financial base, assigning at least some share of responsibility to the GOP seems only fair."

During which time, the GOP never had a filibuster-proof majority. It was only with the collaboration of Democrats -- not just "DINOs", but supposed liberals too -- that all these bad things happened. Many of these bad things are the legacy, not simply of the past 10 years, but of the Clinton administration, which amounted to little more than Reaganism with a boyish face.

As for Obama's striking legislative record -- what would that be, exactly: A bailout for bankers while workers are hung out to dry? A so-called health-care reform bill that does little more than entrench corporate insurance profits? The complete and utter failure even to move a vote on labor law reform? A pretty-sounding financial reform bill that will prove as ineffectual as Sarbanes-Oxley at actually curbing abuse, let alone curing the structural problems of the Wall Street-driven economy? Foot dragging on ending military discrimination against gays and lesbians? More and more and more money for endless and pointless war in Afghanistan?

For the record, I never expected Obama to usher in an instant era of progressive heaven. I expected pretty much what we've seen -- endless compromise and capitulation, token but empty gestures, and, for anyone who points out the emperor's nakedness, stern reminders that the previous emperor was less attractive in his birthday suit.

The only thing more amusing than right-wing wackos who perpetuate the delusion that Obama is some kind of crypto-Marxist are feckless liberals who perpetuate the illusion that the Democratic party is even (to echo the late, great Phil Ochs) ten degrees to the left of center in the good times. And these are definitely not the good times.

Andrew Brod

Eric illustrates the enthusiasm gap that is the Democrats' worst enemy this fall. Republicans are raring to go to the polls, while Democrats moan about Obama not being sufficiently progressive.

eric

I'm not moaning about anything. I'm commenting on reality -- which is not that Obama is insufficiently progressive, but rather that the Obama administration and Democrat-controlled Congress are not even mildly progressive in practice (regardless of what some of them may sometimes preach in rhetoric). Of course, it is far easier for party loyalists to blame would-be voters for their lack of enthusiasm, rather than to take that lack of enthusiasm seriously and ask why it is.

Let me be clear: The fact is that in this country we have a practical choice between one party increasingly dominated by extreme right-wing lunatics, and another party solidly dominated by centrist-to-center-right corporate lackeys. There's a case to be made that the latter is, to use the shopworn term, the lesser-evil. There is no case to be made that the latter is, in any meaningful sense, "progressive" or "left".

When those who actually believe in and desire to work for progressive change point out the Democratic emperor's nakedness, it isn't much of an answer merely to point out (however correctly) that the previous emperor was less attractive in his birthday suit. Absent a real agenda for real change, and a real strategy for really advancing it, why exactly should progressives/the left be enthusiastic?

Bubba

"since the GOP presided over eight years that saw the deficit explode while the rich got richer and the rest of us got poorer, and corporate earnings shifted dramatically from a productive jobs-creating manufacturing base to an unproductive jobs-destroying financial base, assigning at least some share of responsibility to the GOP seems only fair."

SSDD.

Regarding "exploding deficts", let's put that phrase into its proper political perspective.

Andrew Brod

Okay, Eric, so you're not moaning. FWIW, I'm not a party loyalist blaming anyone for anything, including a lack of enthusiasm. I was just making an observation.

Asking why Democratic voters are unenthusiastic seems like a perfectly good exercise. You've given your answer, and here's mine: The economic insecurity that energizes supporters of the opposition tends to enervate supporters of the party in power. In other words, if the economy were strong, not only would Tea Party anger be muted (if not nonexistent) but there'd be some eagerness among Democratic voters to get out and re-elect their guys. I'm not saying there'd be a lot of eagerness--it is after all a midterm election. But there'd be something.

However, if we go with your explanation, then it would seem that Democrats can't take yes for an answer. After an historic Congressional session (that admittedly was quite frustrating to progressives, who didn't get everything they wanted), they'd rather give the reins of government back to the Republicans than go to the polls. Hey, both parties are just havens for corporate lackeys, right?

The Republicans have an excellent chance of not just gaining seats in the House (that's practically a sure thing) but actually retaking the majority. Whether it's because of progressives' anger or the crappy economy, that outcome appears to be okay with liberal voters.

Again, just some observations.

eric

After an historic Congressional session (that admittedly was quite frustrating to progressives, who didn't get everything they wanted anything of substance )

Fixed.

Andrew Brod

Well, you're kinda making my point. Whatever the reason, a Republican takeover seems to be an okay outcome to you guys. And it appears it's what you'll get.

designation

I just love this bumper sticker...

Cthulhu 2010!
Why vote for a lesser evil?

Sums up my feelings pretty well.

justcorbly

I doubt Eric and I disagree very little on policy issues. But I also think that people like Eirc and myself represent a rather distinct minority of Americans voters, and that we have been a minority for a long time and will continue to be a minority for a long time. The simple fact that we try to think about policy issues, from any point of view, sets us off as a minority.

Like most voters, Americans are deluded into thinking that if one party doesn't fix everything in two years, then the right thing to do is vote for the other party, even though the voters abandoned those guys in the previous elections.

That kind of voting doesn't make sense.

I thought during the campaign that progressives were investing too much emotion in Obama, that regardless of what his personal opinions might be, the likely composition of Congress would not allow him to champion any truely progressive legislation. That's proved to be the case in the Senate. Arguing, or pining, that Obama could get legislation passed if he just wanted to, if he just pushed hard enough, if he just twisted enough arms, is to engage in fantasy.

Most people who voted for Obama did so because they liked him more than they liked McCain, because they were comfortable with the notion of his personality in the Oval Office and because they were put off by McCain's personality. Had they had personality and image transplants, McCain might well have won.

If progressives want progressive reforms, then they need to create more commited progressive voters who will, in turn, create more progressive legislators, at all levels. This requires decades of effort. We just can't get all psyched up for a year or so about one guy and then pout and go home when the world doesn't change overnight.

The single most important reason to vote Democratic is to keep Republicans out of office. Everything else is secondary. Mild-mannered, timid Democrats might not move the nation forward, but Republicans will surely move it backwards.

Consider, Eric, if progressives stay home, then they'll get Republicans like Bubba, who respond to challenges of fact with personal abuse, who provide succor to bias, and who cite propaganda journals as if they were objective academic publications. We can't afford more Bubbas. That way is collapse.

eric

I'd posted a follow-up to my last (admittedly flippant) comment, but it appears to have been trapped or eaten (I may have flubbed the captcha, which I foolishly attempted without my glasses on). Suffice it to say, I don't entirely reject the "lesser-evilist" argument. I merely mean to point out that it has sharply diminishing returns -- as the two most recent Democratic administrations (both of which are well to the right of, say, Richard Nixon, in most aspects of domestic and economic policy) amply illustrate.

Yes, as the Republicans get steadily worse and worse, the Democrats continue to appear relatively less-awful even as they shuffle slowly but steadily rightward to occupy the space that the even more rightward-lurching GOP leaves behind. But the end result is that we're still moving toward the same destination, only a little slower.

A good Gramscian will recognize that those who seek social change will often find it tactically advantageous to join forces in the war of maneuver with those who seek social stability against those who seek social regression. But, a good Gramsican will never forget that the war of maneuver is futile unless it is preceded by a successful war of position to reshape the ideological terrain on which the war of maneuver is fought. Politics may be, as Ed is so fond of reminding us, the art of the possible. Social change, in contrast, is the art of altering the landscape of possibility. As long as we defer the latter in pursuit of the former, we are doomed to defeat, no matter the outcome of elections.

Steve Harrison

Eric, the ideological path our country is on is a really complex one, where regress and progress seem to walk hand in hand. We're (each and all) trending more towards individualism and the selfish behaviors that entails, but our social awareness is also on the rise.

And within that seemingly conflicting environment, progress is not only attainable, it's happening, even as we speak. The reason most of us can't see it is because we're programmed to look for and respond to negative stimuli.

Progress comes in small, issue-specific victories, not massive ideological shifts. And if you sacrifice the former in favor of the latter, you're also sacrificing the substance that you're looking for

eric

Steve, I'm not suggesting anybody sacrifice anything in favor of something else. I'm simply suggesting that people be honest and realistic about why some people are unenthusiastic about supporting the Democratic Party and unreasonable to portray those people as not caring whether the evil GOP bogeyman takes control of DC.

You are half right when you note that progress comes in small issue-specific victories. But those victories are impossible without an ongoing effort to reshape ideology -- not in one massive shudder, but also in small but steady increments.

That's precisely the point I was making with reference to Gramsci. And that's precisely what is lost when liberals simply hitch their wagon to the donkey and allow themselves to be dragged along for the ride for fear of how much nastier the ride might be behind the elephant.

It's one thing to argue that voting the lesser evil is a tactical necessity while continuing the broader strategic campaign. It's an entirely different matter to urge that those on the left refrain from criticizing the shortcomings of the Democratic Party platform and practice, left someone be discouraged from showing up to vote. Give them a reason not to be discouraged.

As for whether progress is really happening even as we speak, that depends on what you mean. It is probably true about a great many things (the environment, gay rights, etc.). But concerning economic democracy it is absolutely false. That is the fault-line between liberals and the left. And that is the fundamental issue on which the Democratic Party is scarcely a lesser-evil at all.

justcorbly

Eric, don't make the mistake of projecting your opinions on other people. Yes, many people who consider themselves progressives are unhappy with the Democratic Party because it has not moved to the left. I'm one of them. But, even more people are unhappy with the Democratic party because they have moved dramatically to the right. The posts by the Usual Suspects on this blog are ample evidence of that.

We have much more to fear from that movement to the right than we do from the lack of a movment to the left. The movement to the right poses a clear and immediate threat. I can't condone any behavior that supports it.

I don't argue that anyone should refrain from criticizing Democrats. I'm arguing that enabling the election of more Republicans is a error from which we may not recover. It just doesn't make sense to me that our dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party should lead us to acquiesce in and enable the election of politicians who who are, in most respects, the enemy. There are among them people who would put you and me in prison, sans trial.

That said, I agree with you regarding the issue of economic democracy. Political freedom is pointless without the economic means to exercise and enjoy it.

Steve Harrison

"It's one thing to argue that voting the lesser evil is a tactical necessity while continuing the broader strategic campaign."

Which is generally what I do, or try to do, anyway. I've probably criticized more (General Assembly) Democrats than Republicans, and it's usually issue-specfic in nature. How their policy development adversely impacts the state of our state, if you will.

Every now and then we get their attention for about a nanosecond. ;)

Andrew Brod

Thus spake Eric: "I'm simply suggesting that people be honest and realistic about why some people are unenthusiastic about supporting the Democratic Party and unreasonable to portray those people as not caring whether the evil GOP bogeyman takes control of DC."

So I'm not being "honest" when I propose an explanation that differs from yours? Nice.

As for the other bit, I understand why progressives would want to avoid blame for a Democratic loss, and therefore why you'd think it "unreasonable" to claim that when supporters of Party A (in a two-party system) stay home on Election Day they're saying in effect that they don't mind Party B winning.

Yes, progressives argue that their long-run goal is to move the Democratic Party to the left. Maybe they'll succeed. But that long-run goal implies a willingness to tolerate short-run GOP success. That's my point, and while it might be wrong, it's not unreasonable.

Oh, one more thing. I never said anything about the GOP being evil. That's on you.

Andrew Brod

More on Burr's vulnerability and the likelihood that Democrats will fail to take advantage of it.

Fred Gregory

JC, I trust this was a source of some encouragement to you.
MoveOn backs Marshall

He is the Mother of all money bags.

Bubba

"Consider, Eric, if progressives stay home, then they'll get Republicans like Bubba, who respond to challenges of fact with personal abuse, who provide succor to bias, and who cite propaganda journals as if they were objective academic publications. We can't afford more Bubbas."

Ah yes, the irony of that piece, from that poster!

Corbs is his very own "propaganda journal". Indeed, his entire belief system is based upon the regressiveness of the agenda(s) he supports.

Thanks for the re-enforcement, corbs. It's sick pieces of tortured counter culture warrior-ing like yours that validate everything I believe in.

By no means am I alone in those feelings.

MojoNixon

Thus spake Sideshow Bobbles, fortified by his imaginary legions of reactionaries.

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