Thursday: The Ass in the Room

Digby has a new frontpager.  By the way, the Ass in the title doesn’t apply to Digby.  She’s a great writer.  No, really.  And I think her heart is in the right place.  It’s just that she’s a bit, um, chickenshit.  SHE called herself that, not me.

Anyway, what brought about the addition of ThereIsNoSpoon to Hullabaloo?  I don’t know but I have occasionally read her comment threads lately and many of her readers are fed up and ready to throw in the towel on Obama.  Not only that, there seem to be a lot more commenters expressing regret about how they blew off Hillary Clinton for Mr. Schmoozy McMashieniblick.  Well, we can’t have that, can we?  So, ThereIsNoSpoon dons his “Howard Dean Mantle of Imperviousness” and says, “Step aside, Digby, *I’ll* handle this!”.  Either that or someone at Advertising Liberally told her to get her house in order or she was going to get cut off.  (One can not accuse me of having a deficit of imagination.)

So, ThereIsNoSpoon made his debut on Hullabaloo to get those morons back in line and toeing the party line.  And let’s throw in a little learned helplessness in there.  We don’t want them to get ideas.  Take them down memory lane.  Howard Dean!  Howard Dean!  Remember how we all wore orange and sang the Marseilles and vowed to purge Washington of the Bushies?  Were those times great or what?  {{this Clarkie rolls her eyes.  I can’t stand Howard Dean}} ThereIsNoSpoon goes on to say how much he doesn’t want to go over 2008 because it’s so five minutes ago and then he loses me forever:

 For those who may not know, I’m 1st Vice Chair of the Ventura County Democratic Party in California, and a recently elected member of the California Democratic Party Executive Board. To many, that would be considered an asset. To others, it might be a curse, a straitjacket preventing free expression of ideas and forcing a toeing of the “party line.” It shouldn’t bear reminding that it was none other than Howard Dean, no slouch in the progressive movement, who first asked of all of us who were upset with cowardice and corporatism in the Democratic Party not to shun the Party, but to actively get involved with it.The reason for Howard Dean’s call to arms was not so that progressives might be co-opted and sell out, but rather that they might storm the gates and force real changes in the Party. I am not alone in having done this in California: my brother Dante is a vice-chair in the L.A. County Dem Party and a CDP E-Board member; Robert Cruickshank, a superb netroots activist and constant and forceful Obama Administration critic, was a vice-chair in the Monterey Dem Party for a long while before moving to Seattle to work on progressive mayor McGinn’s communications team; Brian Leubitz, owner of progressive California blog Calitics is a CDP Regional Director in the Bay Area. Getting involved in this way has been for all of us not a professional consideration, but an ideological one. The entire purpose of being involved is to force changes in the way the Party thinks and the way it behaves in every aspect: from the values of candidates endorsed, to the nature of field operations, to the aggressiveness of communications, and everything in between. These changes do not happen overnight. Often they take years to gestate. Almost invariably they are met with fierce opposition from the comfortable, institutional powers that be, as well as their ideological allies who prize being “nice” and “reasonable” as a greater good than actually solving the problems that face the country.

If even 1/10 of the progressives writing online would become similarly involved and demand that the institutions of the Democratic Party be accountable to the progressive base and the well-polled progressive preferences of the majority of Americans, it would be a boon to our political system. This is why Howard Dean asked us to do it. Nor for the most part would it hamper our ability to speak openly and honestly about our beliefs. What I say here or elsewhere is not the official position of the Democratic Party at any level, nor should be it construed as such. The onlyconstraint on a Party official’s personal positions is that one grant that, at a fundamental level, voting for Democrats is advantageous over voting for members of other parties. That’s a big one, of course, and a non-starter for many in the progressive movement. Which is fine. Reasonable people who want the same things (single-payer healthcare, an end to pointless foreign wars, a decent safety net, a reduction in income inequality, equal rights for all Americans regardless of race, age, gender, orientation, etc.) will certainly differ on the best tactics we might use to get there.

Oh, brother, where to start? I have nothing against people getting all “Student Body President!” in the party at the local level.  Good for him.  I used to attend those meetings. But let’s talk about the party faithful voters who supported Clinton in 2008, or do those people, more than half the party, still not count like the Obama contingent does?  Did THEY not get involved?   From what I could see, they were plenty involved.  I phone banked and canvassed (a LOT in Pennsylvania) for Clinton.  She had no shortage of volunteers.  The weekend before the primary in NJ in 2008, her office in Trenton was jammed with people.  There was nowhere to sit so I had to sit in a backroom with a campaign finance person who was fielding calls from all over the state of NJ.  I tried not to listen but from what I could tell, Obama’s campaign was employing “walking around money”, a lot of it.  From what I could tell, it was an ungodly amount in the millions and millions of dollars.  The Clinton person was saying that the budget for NJ was exhausted and it couldn’t match Obama’s spending there.  The campaign people would have to make do with what it had.  OMG, Clinton was going to have to rely on the strength of her candidacy and not obscene gobs of cash!  (And it worked.  Well, we can’t have that, right?) I think the campaign was even out of bumper stickers.  My car has a spanish one because the English versions were all gone.  She was very, very popular here.  Hillary Clinton won NJ by 10 points anyway, which just goes to show you that money can’t buy you love.  But Jon Corzine ignored all of that and gave our entire delegation to Obama at the Convention.  No, I won’t get over that-ever.

I went to YearlyKos in 2006 and 2007.  I volunteered for Linda Stender in NJ-07.  The party supported her in 2006, completely abandoned her in 2008 even though she could have won this district with their help.  She lost the 2006 election by something like 4,000 votes, which in NJ is *tiny*.  I mean, REALLY tiny.  She could have been a very successful candidate here.  But she was unabashedly liberal and the party didn’t cotton to liberals in 2008.  Would ThereIsNoSpoon like to hazard a guess why that might be?

I stood there in the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas when Wes Clark jumped up on a table and told everyone that blogging was not enough.  He said that if we wanted to win back Congress in 2006, we would have to get out there and meet people and convince them and work our asses off.  So, I tried that.  And my candidates lost anyway.

And why did they lose?  Well, it wasn’t for lack of effort or popularity or policies.  What I have learned about the latest incarnation of the Democratic Party is that they want you to express your opinion and work for your candidates.  But if your candidate is not the one they selected beforehand, then too bad for you and all of your effort.  ThereIsNoSpoon, the voice of the Democratic Party, lays it out to the readers of Hullabaloo:

For various reasons locked into the nature of our winner-take-all Constitution, we have a two-party system, not a parliamentary one. That is very unlikely to change. Further, putting efforts into third parties to the left of the Democrats has not been shown to pull the party to the left, but rather to the right (outside of small, liberal states like Vermont.) Democrats did not look at the votes for Nader in 2000 and move to Party to the left to win those voters; instead, the Bush Presidency shifted the Democrats farther to the right. Theoretically, one could try to bury the Democratic Party in the same grave as the Whigs and start over anew–but what happens in the meantime during Nihilist Republican rule? Will the country survive? Frankly, there are too many deeply vulnerable people in this country and around the world to take that chance.

Which means that for better or for worse, the Democratic Party is what we have to work with. In the short term, that means that Barack Obama, for better or for worse, is what we have to work with at this time (primarying him being pretty much a fantasy, particularly given his still soaring approval rating among the vast majority of self-described liberals.) It’s not pretty, but it’s reality.

It’s therefore our job as progressives to work both from within the Democratic Party and from outside the Democratic Party to make the changes to it we would like to see, to refashion the Party to fit the ideals that the American people deserve. That requires an aggressive, uncompromising stance.

Ahhh, so what ThereIsNoSpoon is saying is that if you work within and from the outside of the Democratic Party to make the changes you want to see, the party will just ignore you and tell you that your insistence on a primary candidate for Obama is a “fantasy”.  In other words, the Democratic party doesn’t want participants.  It wants children.  It is going to be very parental about this.  You aren’t going to get a Democrat who represents you and that’s final.

And what are the ideals that the American people deserve?  The American people have said, pretty definitively, that saving our jobs is at the top of its priority list.  What has Obama done about that?  Nothing.  The American people have said overwhelmingly that they don’t want anyone messing around with social security or Medicare.  And what has Obama proposed?  He proposes raising the eligibility age on Medicare and reformulating social security payments so as to screw recipients out of a sizeable chunk of benefits that they paid and paid and paid for.  He proposes $4 *trillion* in spending cuts.  He didn’t have to propose these changes.  He *volunteered* them.  The austerity measures were gifted to the Republicans for very little in return.

ThereIsNoSpoon goes on to the proven scare tactics to force people back into the fold.  If you don’t vote for Democrats, Michelle Bachmann will win and then what will happen?!?  Jeez, I dunno, how much worse can it get?  I mean really, would crucifixion be that bad after we’ve been drawn and quartered?

Centurion: You know the penalty laid down by Roman law for harboring a known criminal?
Matthias: No.
Centurion: Crucifixion!
Matthias: Oh.
Centurion: Nasty, eh?
Matthias: Could be worse.
Centurion: What you mean “Could be worse”?
Matthias: Well, you could be stabbed.
Centurion: Stabbed? Takes a second. Crucifixion lasts hours. It’s a slow, horrible death.
Matthias: Well, at least it gets you out in the open air.

I’m firmly of the belief that “Friends don’t let friends vote Republican” but by the time Michelle gets the nomination, the damage will be done, by a DEMOCRAT.  In that eventuality, I might just vote for Michelle.  She and I share almost nothing in common but our XX chromosomes but heck, if the entire Democratic party can use race as a reason for slipping a stealth candidate into the White House in 2008 (no, don’t even try to deny it.  We have the spam), why can’t I vote for Michelle to get MY underrepresented cohort to the pinacle of power?  If Barack Obama doesn’t start representing American New Deal Ideals during The Little Depression, why should I vote for him?  It can’t get any worse with Michelle and if the Democrats get a clue and win back Congress, they might have to play defense for awhile.

I’ve noticed that the “let’s all jump on Michelle” game is getting cranked up by both parties.  Migraines? Oh, please.  Why don’t we just come out and accuse her of letting her raging hormones disqualify her from keeping a cool head during a rough week in the situation room.  I’m already pre-disgusted by this crap.  The Democrats have already lost their credibility with women, why make it worse for the voters who have to continue living as women?

It’s all in vain, Dems.  You will not get me back until you give me a real choice.  I won’t play this game where you pretend to listen to my concerns and still serve me the same breakfast cereal day after day anyway.  I’ve made my feelings known to every campaign financing org that the Democrats have.  Lately, I’ve even heard from the Democratic Party of New Jersey (that’s a first) who solicited me for funds.  This is my message: “I am not contributing to your organization because of the disgraceful way the party treated voters of Hillary Clinton in 2008.  Barack Obama turned out to be a weak president and I do not approve of his policies or performance.  I want a primary challenger for Obama.  Do not bother me again until you get a clue.”

So far, they haven’t gotten a clue.  I am unperturbed by the specter of what will happen next year.  I have my own personal problems, ie joblessness and a fascinating but difficult gifted teen to raise, to worry about what some clueless and disconnected Democrats are going to do.  My vote is my own and next year, I will bestow it upon who I choose and who I think can shake things up the most.  If the Democrats are starting to worry, then good!  But I suggest they stop trying to make it sound like they are concerned with the plight of the poor and most affected during this economic downturn.  *I* am one of those people, a liberal, New Deal Democrat in Exile, and I do not care to keep the current cohort of Democrats in power.  The party still needs votes to win and continuing to ignore the concerns of average Americans in order to not lose face for shoving Obama down our throats is not a winning formula.  So, bring on the disaster.

The lack of planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

PS: Check out the comment thread on ThereIsNoSpoon’s post.  It’s amazing.  Methinks the party is too late to fix this.  Obama appears to have jumped the shark.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 413 other followers