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Stalemate

The people who can master the Ring usually wisely turn it down

It just occurred to me that the Obama presidency is like what would have happened if Boromir had succeeded in taking the One Ring to Gondor.  They should have sent Faramir to Rivendell.

ANYWAY…

Anglachel has (yet another) informative post up, Primary Objective, breaking down the dynamics of primary challengers to incumbent presidents.  Go read the whole thing.  Here’s the conclusion:

There’s the landscape for a primary challenge. Anyone who would try this had best be ready to give up all hope of a political future, as he or she would be mounting a campaign against the dominant faction. There simply isn’t anything in the Democratic party analogous to the Movement Conservatives behind Reagan. Hillary is probably the only Democrat who has that kind of support and loyalty from her coalition, but is the last person in the party to deliberately undermine a sitting president that way. No other candidate has name recognition, an established base, and/or a defined cause.

Someone could act as a spoiler, much like Kennedy in 1980 or Bradley in 2000, but those two came in with media support and a dedicated base. Obama is unpopular in the party, but not mortally so (contra Carter), and he is still the beloved of the media (contra Gore) for intraparty battles, so is unlikely to be as damaged by a primary challenge as Carter or Gore. If there is another big economic shock and/or if unemployment stays as is or worsens, then the cumulative bad news may embolden challengers from his own faction and make the press distance itself from a loser.

Mostly, the danger to Obama will be in the general, where wider dissatisfaction, resentment voting and a less fawning press will put him in a condition closer to Humphrey’s or Gore’s in the general.

The trouble with the Democratic Party, an organization that is the worst in politics except for all the others, is that it has not discovered a way to recombine the populist and progressive modes of its liberalism in a way that matches the force of the New Deal coalition. Until it purged itself of the Dixiecrats, it could not do this. Since doing so, the progressive faction has not cared to do this.

It needs to build an analogue of the Movement Conservatives, and that cannot be done without the majority of the white working class once again agreeing that it’s material interests are best served by this party.

Now, I understand the reasons why she comes to the conclusions she does and I wouldn’t argue that her analysis would logically lead anyone to the same point.  But history does not necessarily have to repeat itself.  The facts lay out instances of failure when the Stevensonians have attempted to usurp the process.  What I take away from this is that there has been a schism in the Democratic party for quite some time now.  This is what Anglachel describes as the Stevensonians vs the Jacksonians.  I think most readers of this blog would say they are a little of both.  Yeah, admit it, you thought Tsongas was a contender, didn’t you? (Read the rest below the fold)

But I’m going to go out on a limb here and using absolutely no facts at all for this hypothesis will assert that over the last 40 years, the bulk of the country has been tending towards Jacksonianism, if that is a word.  And the reason I say that is because the American industrial landscape is a hulking, smoking ruin.  The working class no longer just works with its hands, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  The new working class now also encompasses workers in highly skilled, technical jobs that require a college degree or its equivalent. Pretty soon, the MBAs will be joining us, though they’re in a state of denial at present that they’re jobs are exportable.  The new working class is anyone who gets a paycheck for their income from another source.  This working class contains people like programmers, accountants, system administrators, chemists, biologists, geneticists, nurses and teachers.  They have now joined the busdrivers and autoworkers except that most of these new working class people have never been in unions.  They may have thought that their college degrees made them more “professional” and less likely to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that the older industrialized economy fought through.

Maybe the turmoil inside the Democratic party has as much to do with this new reality as the colossal stupidity of the Stevensonian wing.  Maybe the new working class has to come to some kind of understanding with itself and realize that the powers that be has taken the smart and well educated down a notch in the social hierarchy.  To the rich and well connected, it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have.  Your purpose in life is to become a handmaiden to the shareholders.  You are a specialist, a technician, a servant.  Nothing more than that.

Of course, there will be people who through circumstances or initiative will become self-employed or budding entrepreneurs.  These people carry the weight of their own survival and everyone else’s on their shoulders.  These are your new independents.  Neither party really offers them what they need but when it comes right down to it, they’d rather not pay so much in taxes for all their hard work.  And the bonus class is making more and more of these people as they cut these former wage slaves free of their former secure tethers to a steady salary.

So, maybe it is putting the cart before the horse to expect that this group will prevail against the Stevensonians, who seem to come from an entitled class of pseudo liberals.  As Anglachel points out, what made the Republicans the dominant force in American politics today, besides the obscene gobs of cash, is a movement.  And Democrats don’t have a movement.  The Obama Movement was a manufactured one, slickly produced by a marketing team in some conference room, complete with powerpoint slides with carefully researched images created by  professional graphics teams and finished off with plenty of branded swag in complimentary gift totes after an elegantly catered luncheon.  (Smoke filled rooms are declasse)  The reason it didn’t last beyond the election of 2008 is because it was a fad, like flash mobs.  It didn’t really have meaning to the lives of the new working class, who just didn’t want another four years of Republicans in power.

Obama needs to get this through his thick head: he was never personally popular among the Democratic base.  He was just “The Democrat”.  No one really liked him.  He’s not charming.  He doesn’t have magical oratorial skills.  He’s not a political wizard with a secret 11 dimensional chess plan.  He’s not even good at politics.  He was gently carried over all of the obstacles of the 2008 campaign by the media and his own party.  And he knows it.  If he’s insecure and thinks he can’t do the job he is clearly unprepared for, he’s got a good reason to feel that way.  If he’d waited 8 years, even I might have voted for him.  But he didn’t.  And the fact that he is NOT “The Democrat” that everyone thought they were voting for because they didn’t really have a choice, has left the Democratic base deeply disappointed.

But unless Obama bows out, and I sincerely hope that someone convinces him that it would be the best thing for the party and the country, he will go on to lose the 2012 election and we’ll be stuck with another mean spirited, hard hearted conservative Republican.  And this is something the delusional left, like Chris Hedges and Will Bunch have to get through their heads: no one they suggest as an alternative is going to win.  The country isn’t going to suddenly become infatuated with Kucinich or Feingold or Dean.  Nah-Gah-Happen.  These Democrats do not resonate with the voters.  And forget Elizabeth Warren.  She’d be a great champion of protecting the middle class from financial predators but she’s never run for public office.  Whenever I see this stuff in various comment threads I have to wonder if what color is the sky on the commenter’s planet.

What this country needs is a real movement.  That voting bloc, that movement, is just sitting there, with no one currently representing or championing it.  A savvy politician would appeal to the realities of this new working class, consisting of the old working class and the new educated working class.  There is one obvious frontrunner there but as Anglachel points out, she won’t be disloyal to her own party.  But would she be disloyal to her country if she thought that the country couldn’t survive another four years of bad government from either side of the aisle?

Which is more important?  Party or country?

But whoever that champion of the new working class might be, he or she is not going to be able to win as long as the new working class does not realize that they are all in this together and that the education of the college professionals and technicals must form a coalition with the older union and industrialized workers.  Until that happens, the Democratic base will remain fragmented and at the mercy of a bunch of snobs that populate blogs like OpenLeft and FireDogLake and journals like The Atlantic and newspapers like The Washington Post.  They don’t want to associate with or acknowledge the reality of the new working class and so they will not represent or speak for you.

You have to form your own movement and speak for yourself.  Then you can pick the candidate of your choice to represent you and your interests and tell the snobs to go eat granola.

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48 Responses

  1. But whoever that champion of the new working class might be

    You can bet the rent that the GOP nominee in 2012 will claim to be that champion.

    • Yep, they’re probably saying:
      “I can’t believe he’s leaving all these people on the table. OMG, he is! He’s walking away from them. The whole Democratic party is just fricking walking away from most of the country. Quick! Get a new decorator on the phone, preferably someone from Alaska. I’m seeing an elk head above the fireplace in the Oval Office.”

  2. very insightful, and the seeds are there now waiting for that leader. my only disagreement would be that the Dem Party imv is no longer viable repair not possible.

    • Mebbe. Mebbe not. Now would be a good time for the party to reassess it’s options and make a quick turn around. They have a much better politician standing by than anything the Republicans can offer in 2012. They have a good backup plan in the wings if only they’d take it. The question is, does anyone on the inside have the critical mass to oust the Obama contingent?

      • and the answer is…nope.

        • I’m not so sure about that. Being out of power, being VOTED out of power because your party leader did not respond to economic times or adjust his strategy tends to make you very unhappy. I’m sure the committee chairs who are about to lose their positions are none too pleased with Obama right now. Same with governors and the whole Democratic machine in some states. It’s more than just a rebuilding year phenomenon. The whole coaching staff has to be replaced and they know it. There will be no convincing halftime pep talks from the Obama contingent. They just don’t know how to play this game.

          • they won’t be able to regroup in time. 2012 campaign has already begun. Those who want to take over (or take back, depending on how you look at it) the democratic party will just be hoping the republicans win, making their comeback all the easier in 2014 midterms and 2016 pres.

          • I don’t know … things can move pretty fast once momentum shifts.

          • Ok, I’ll say it to burst everyone’s bubble: Hillary Clinton has ZERO chance of winning in 2016 and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.

            If there is an alternative to Hillary in 2012 that is like her, then I’ll vote for him/her. I have no intention of voting for Obama and there is nothing that will make me change my mind about him. If we’re a significant voting bloc, the Democrats might just want to pay attention to that.

          • If we’re a significant voting bloc…
            I’d say working class liberals are the vast majority of the Dem party, as seen by the actual votes counts of the primaries. And if you add working class moderates who, though things have been frame to make them think otherwise, are on the same side as us with a majority of issues and interest, you’ve got at least 70% of the country IMO. That’s a helluva bloc if someone could reach them.

      • It would be best for the President to decide not to run for a second term. What would motivate him? He won’t make as much on speeches if he runs and fails to get re-elected. But he really needs another high profile job — preferably one with more hipe than substance — to move “up” to. Other than Supreme Court (not substance free) or a UN position, what could tempt him?

        djmm

  3. “What this country needs is a real movement. That voting bloc, that movement, is just sitting there, with no one currently representing or championing it.”

    There is a movement already and Republicans have stepped in and started championing it.

    One reason there is no comparable movement on the left is because the D party has forgotten that it’s about making people feel good about themselves. As Bill Clinton has said, you have to make people feel like winners. As Maya Angelou has said, people will forget what you said, but they won’t forget how you made them FEEL. It’s a harsh reality to accept, but the left is making people feel like crap. Nobody likes to be ridiculed, to be put down, to be told their country is mean.

    Whoever manages to lift American spirits always wins. You can’t rally the working class when you’re busy calling them racist, republicans, retards, etc, etc.

  4. Well stated and a refreshing read (especially the truth about Obama, who has become toxic to the nth degree). The Dem Party must get him out.

    I’ve had some success with my very successful small business owner friends. Right now, they identify with the Haves, but, bit by bit, they will be subsumed by the anti-worker forces and go under too. My friends are starting to get that.

    The Haves keep trying to pit the better-off workers against the poorer workers. At some point, and I would argue that point is quite near now, critical mass is going to shift the balance of power. All workers are becoming endangered.

    The more Obama falls flat on his face, the more I see progress. I, for one, cheer his every blunder.

    • I don’t exactly cheer for his failure. It’s just that there’s no way for me to anticipate anything else.
      He was the wrong candidate at the wrong time. Some Democrats took that to mean we had something against his race. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t dismiss the fact that racism exists, only that the science of race makes absolutely no sense. I just expect that my president is going to be the best person for the job regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. But what did race have to do with the economic crisis that was looming on the horizon? I don’t believe that no one saw it coming. There’s plenty of evidence that Hillary saw it coming. Obama was too wrapped up in himself to see anything coming except his inauguration.
      But he was going to be a failure no matter what. He just isn’t ready to be president and he doesn’t have a feel for politics. We don’t cheer for that. We simply regret that this painful lesson was necessary in the first place.

      • We simply regret that this painful lesson was necessary in the first place.

        I’m actually pissed off that this painful lesson has to be learned again and again and again.

      • I understand what you’re saying about not cheering his failure. Of course, it’s tragic that this has happened and wiser voices were not listened to. Absolutely disastrous and horrifying.

        However, I think the sooner his serious flaws become apparent, the sooner we can go about trying to correct the mess this country is in.

        To me, there is no chance in the world that he will change course (not in his genetic makeup), so my point is: as his betrayals mount, more people (hopefully, the Dem Party among them) will recognize he needs to go. Pronto. Right now, I see that as the only workable plan – he must be told he cannot run for reelection.

        Race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, all meaningless. Competence, honesty, convictions, a willingness to fight, and empathy. I’ll take that. The sooner, the better.

      • Race is a factor because his history (what the media wanted you to know) was a major factor in his campaign. It would not have been anywhere near the same process to get a white candidate elected.

        • In the 2008 election race was 1.) a gimmick that worked only on pretentious liberals and 2.) a bludgeon to silence the unpretentious liberals- that would be us, oh best beloveds.

  5. This is what Anglachel describes as the Stevensonians vs the Jacksonians. I think most readers of this blog would say they are a little of both. Yeah, admit it, you thought Tsongas was a contender, didn’t you?

    Maybe one of the problems is that politicians aren’t as sophisticated as us voters?

    I know that I’m a little of both — as are virtually every member of my family. One of my parent’s first dates was Stevenson rally so there’s always been an air of romance about his name for us kids.

    But, it’s a rare politician that can handle nuance gracefully.

    It seems like Bobby Kennedy was a little of both Stevensonian & Jacksonian but, it’s pretty rare.

    • Adlai Stevenson. That’s one sexy moniker. I can almost hear “Let’s Get it On” playing in the background and not the opening bars of Prairie Home Companion. ;-)

      • Weird isn’t it. Well, it was in San Francisco … I guess pretty much anything is sexy there.

        • Funny story about SF: I was there for an ACS (American Chemical Society) conference once and was taking the cable car around the city on a beautiful sunny day. As we were lumbering up a steep hill, passing charming house after house accented with lush bouganvillea, we came upon a chicly dressed couple in the midst of a very public breakup. The whole cable car was transfixed as this beautiful woman lost it on the sidewalk, accused her boyfriend/husband of cheating on her and told him to take a hike. It was the kind of scene you only see in a movie.
          So, I have to say that my most memorable images of San Francisco were not romantic at all.

  6. Great post! And your solution sounds about right, too. Not that the Dems or the “knowledge workers” are going to do what needs to be done until after their first visits to the food pantry.
    :(

    • I don’t know where you live but where I live, the food pantry visits are already a reality for the knowledge workers.
      And in NJ, your salary before your layoff usually means you are ineligible for any kind of governmental assistance outside of the severance bennies you get. That’s right. Your kids won’t even get SCHIP.
      And there are a LOT of unemployed knowledge workers here.

      • True. (I’m in sunny SoCal, and it’s true here, too.) I get the sense, though, that except for maybe Michigan, a lot of the decreasingly-middle class is in denial.

        Scary.

        • A lot of well educated, VERY well educated, scientists I know personally are just waking up to the fact that they are working class. I don’t thunk many of them put themselves in that category, what with their 401k tax shelters and stock options. But now, they may be coming to realize that they might need social security after all.
          My theory, and it may take a couple of years to prove itself, is that this period of extended unemployment with virtually no safety net, is going to make these voters more liberal than conservative. They may start to empathize with the people they once were impatient with because now they are in that group. To have senior and conservative Glenn Beck watchers tell someone with a PhD in a difficult area to take a job as a dishwasher and stop being a parasite really doesn’t play well in Piscataway.
          I predict a backlash when the bennies run out.

  7. (Aargh. I’m fallen into spam and I can’t get out! I tried logging in, but it won’t let me rescue myself or the other denizen in there.)

  8. At other sites I keep running into the “Yes, Obama turned out to be a major disappointment, but we have to support him because the alternative is worse” school.

    I respond that the problem is that that leaves no line the administration can’t cross, because no matter how hard the Obamacrats chase the GOP to the Right, they can never catch up. The Big O is already well to the Right of Clinton, Bush Sr., Carter, Ford and Nixon, and shows no sign of stopping his pursuit of the Goppers, but they will always be able to shift even more to the extreme to stay ahead of him.

    The differences between the two parties are at this point entirely marginal, and much less important than the things they have in common. And that is why the lesser evil argument (which at one time made sense) is now past its sell-by date.

    The Obamacrats Must Be Destroyed.

  9. Obama Change Campaign:  “Shelve in’12!” -how’s that for a dump Obama movement slogan?

    I just read this over at John W’s place:

    “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
    Posted on November 12, 2010 by JWS
    Mike Barnicle and Joe Scarborough both say at least 7 Democratic Senators have told them that Obama does not know what he’s doing. This is the most tangible anecdotal evidence yet that powerful Democrats are done with Obama. It hardly means Obama will be shown the door in 2012 – far from it, its way to early for that outcome. However, what amounts to an unspoken quorum on Obama’s leadership has developed – and it’s not good news for the President.Continue reading →

    http://johnwsmart.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/he-doesnt-know-what-hes-doing/

    • Watch for a new Veep in 2012, a Blue version of dick Cheney, to run things while Obunko eats his waffles.
      It’s either that or business as usual in hopes of the Dems pulling a victory out of their collective asses.
      The print and broadcast media hacks are salivating over the smears and attacks they can perpetrate should Hillary decide to run.

      • The media shot its wad on CDS in 2008. At this point, Hillary could televise an orgy and the public would vote for her for having chutzpah. The personal attack machine on Hillary Clinton has run its course. I’m not saying they wouldn’t try it. Only that the law of diminishing returns is amplified by the sense that the media betrayed us. Not a good combination. Much better for the news to go back to reporting the news instead of trying to make it.

        • They make the news because their job is for profit.
          Informing the public is a much lower priority.

  10. Somewhere in the past few days I read an interesting angle for the historic presidency we call Obama.
    Instead of doing the usual and expected Run for Re-Election…
    Obama could make a historic move. He could step aside for one term. Yes, step aside with the promise ( threat) to run again in 4 years.
    Help usher in a Dem nominee that can whoop GOP a$$.
    Obama could pose it as a historic maneuver that only he could commandeer.
    His historicalness would be one for the top shelf of the historical .

    The first sitting pres. to step out for a term and then come back to lead us to the sunlight. His power would be enhanced because he didn’t lose badly to
    the evil other side.
    He would be a hero again in 4 or 8 years. He could run that whole hope and change thing again.
    Well, anyway, here’s hoping.

  11. I understand (I think) Anglachel’s point about Stevenson and Jackson and their wings of the party. But I have always been angry at Jackson for his actions after the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee — and President Jackson refused to enforce the decision.

    He did try to take care of ordinary people (who were not Native American).

    The Lord of the Rings movies did not treat Faramir’s character at all well. He was far more noble in the book.

    djmm

    • Jackson showed nobility many times in his life, but many other times he proved himself, all too obviously, to be a man of his time and place and culture, with the accompanying moral blind spots. While we’re talking about presidents, the same could be said of Teddy Roosevelt.

  12. Riverdaughter you have identified a segment of society that is only now starting to realize what you realized long ago,if you work for a paycheck you are working class.

    Many are still in denial but it is getting harder all the time. I wish they were closer to realization than they are now. I’m afraid it is going to take a while for a movement to form.

    I worry that in the meantime we are in for some serious civil unrest that could lead the country in a far darker direction.

  13. “The new working class [consists of] anyone who gets [his or her] paycheck or income from another source.”

    HONK! :mrgreen:

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