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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.

Tuesday Morning: Melange

There’s no consistent theme in this collection of posts.  Or maybe there is but I can’t find it yet.

To start off, let’s say for a moment that Democrats actually get their $#@% together and decide to primary Obama.  (not exactly a fantasy and not nearly as remote as it was last week at this time)  Who is the most likely person to succeed, I mean, besides the obvious?

My guess is Jim Webb, Senator from Virginia.  Now, Webb has a few liabilities and I’ll get to them in a minute.  But with Webb versus Obama, you would get the classic matchup between the Stevensonian and Jacksonian parts of the Democratic party.  The Stevensonians have their hands on power right now, or what’s left of it, since they’ve made a total mess of things.  But the Jacksonians have the votes the Democrats need to win next time.

RealClearPolitics featured a conversation with Webb yesterday about how to win back the Reagan Democrats.  I actually don’t like the term “Reagan Democrat”, which is why the media is probably going to use it every chance they get.  I’m certainly no fan of Reagan and have been a liberal all my life.  But Webb actually gets it better than most people who are sticking a label on disaffected Democrats:

We’re talking about why voters didn’t come around. Webb is weighing my report the morning after the election: Democrats won the smallest share of white voters in any congressional election since World War II.

“I’ve been warning them,” Webb says, sighing, resting his chin on his hand. “I’ve been having discussions with our leadership ever since I’ve been up here. I decided to run as a Democrat because I happen to strongly believe in Jacksonian democracy. There needs to be one party that very clearly represents the interests of working people … I’m very concerned about the transactional nature of the Democratic Party. Its evolved too strongly into interest groups rather than representing working people, including small business people.”

[...]

Webb seems less at home today. He identifies himself as a Democrat. But he has few Democratic leaders to identify with. He won’t say this. His criticism is discernibly girdled. He begins to tell a story about a conversation with a Democratic leader and pulls back. “I don’t want to talk about that,” he mutters. “I have had my discussions. I’ve kept them inside the house. I did not want to have them affect this election, quite frankly. I didn’t want to position myself in the media as a critic of the administration.”

But criticism is in order. Democrats’ suffered historical losses from Congress to the state houses last week. It’s an apt moment for Webb to step in. He is an atypical politician. Politics is not his alpha or omega. He’s authored more than half a dozen books, succeeded as a screenwriter and won an Emmy for his coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut. This success outside politics empowers him to be less political. Yet what suits Webb to criticism is not that. It’s the political sociology he embodies.

Webb represents an endangered species. It’s more than his red state Democratic stature, although that would be reason enough. The moderate House Democratic coalition lost more than half its lawmakers last week. But that Blue Dog set is still more common than Webb.

Webb’s one of the last FDR Democrats. An economic populist. A national security hawk. His Democratic politics are less concerned with social groups than social equality (of opportunity, not outcome). His values were predominant in the Democrat Party from FDR to JFK, the period in the twentieth century when Democrats were also dominant.

Before we go on, notice how the conventional wisdom saturated media, in its quest to shape a narrative (or under orders from someone else) positions Blue Dog Democrats as “moderates”.  Anyone who has been paying even a minimal amount of attention to politics knows that Blue Dog Democrats are just as conservative as their Republican colleagues.  But I digress.

In some respects, Webb is similar to Hillary Clinton.  (He could have lifted that last paragraph right out of our credo.) He’s got enough governmental experience to make Obama look completely unqualified: Combat vet, former Secretary of the Navy, Congressional liaison, novelist, journalist, Emmy winner, lawyer, Senator.  His son enlisted and served in Iraq, yet he is not an Iraq War proponent.  In 2008, there were rumors that he was up for consideration as Obama’s VP.  But he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in the VP position.  Is it because he had concerns about Obama or because he wanted the top position some day?  As far as superdelegates go, I think he held out as uncommitted for a long time.  Actually, I wish all of them had waited but that’s besides the point.  Karma will take care of the ones who jumped aboard the Obama bandwagon early.

Now, for his liabilities.

Continue reading

Wednesday: People Like Us

There are three must read posts from two of our friends and one satellite sister today.  I’m calling these posts “What they did to us”, “Why they’re doing it” and “How to start fighting back”.

The first, What they did to us, is at PUMAPac and is an update and second teaser for the film, The Audacity of Democracy, The Hillary Flashpoint and Battle for the Soul of the Democratic Party.

Darragh is still raising funds to finish the film, scheduled for around inauguration in 2009, though if it’s finished earlier, doesn’t it get counted in the Academy Awards category of documentary?  I dunno.  Anyway, if you contribute now and pre-order your copy of the film now, you will get a DVD of clips from various PUMA events in Denver, including the one where Sheri Tag and MarylandPUMA tag teamed the reprehensible Tommy Christopher, “journalist”.  Not to be missed!

The second post that I call, “Why they’re doing it”, is from our satellite sister, who isn’t a PUMA, Anglachel.  Her post, Where the Shadows Lie, will put a chill up your spine and not merely because the title refers to Tolkien’s Mordor.  It’s because you come away feeling like a Clinton Democrat is one of the most reviled creatures on earth to the Unity Democrats.  We’ve all experienced this irrational hatred towards us.  For example, I can now spot an Obama troll from a mile away by noting the condescension dripping off the page.  They assume that we are just barely literate even though many of us have advanced degrees or no degree but are self-taught BS detectors.  If we’re so stupid, how is it we can trace their IP addresses back to the Humanities departments of so many (formerly) prestigious universities, like Boston University and Columbia?  But I digress.  Here is the money quote from the scary smart Angachel, Clintonista Divine:

To cut to the chase, the push in 2004 for a “Unity Party” has been realized with Howard Dean delivering the Democratic Party into the hands of the High Broderists who value unity for unity’s sake more than any other political cause or virtue. They don’t even want to claim to be part of their party, hoping people will forget and just vote for those nice clean, articulate fellas. This is part of internalizing the Reagan assault on the legitimacy of the Democratic Party as such. Psychologically, to them, the Democratic Party is the remnants of the uneducated, racist, white South and rust-belt north, who vote for Bubbas like Clinton and reject above-partisanship technocrats and idealists like Bill Bradley, John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas and Howard Dean himself. The nerve of them people! And thus, this year, we have the Unity Democrats, non-partisan to the end.

The dark underbelly of this move is the presumption that the people who have been told their interests must wait will always be there for the Democrats because we have nowhere else to go. Specifically, this means African Americans, women voters and GLBT voters.

The focus of the Unity Democrats is on the winners of the economic realignment, those who managed to win a place in the white collar upper-middle class. People like my family and my husband’s, who leveraged the affluence of the post-war era to vault from being immigrants and farmers to being professionals in various government bureaucracies, law, finance, and new, white collar industries like high tech and bio-tech. The other part is to minimize the damage the losers of that realignment can inflict, which mostly means refusing to commit to policies and plans that will defend their interests. Or even their lives. Obama’s campaign is not about social goods and resources, but about cultural markers of class inclusion, such as your level of education, where you shop, whether you live in urban or rural environments, etc. He has difficulty addressing the failures of an economic system contiguous with his own class and which is deeply invested in his candidacy, and I don’t just mean the campaign contributions. He is the exemplar of a mode of life that, while not as unreachable as that of Bush’s base, is still out of reach of those who do not have the education, acculturation and business contacts to climb up that economic ladder.

The ultimate shadow of Reagan is that you don’t win by defending losers, only by securing the interests of the winners. That is the dark heart beating in the chest of the Unity Democrats. They are done with the losers.

Yep, we are the LOOOOSSSERRRSSS according to the Chris Bowers types even if we are for the most part indistinguishable from them.  The resentment comes down to people who still require something from government, like equal rights for women, African-Americans, the GLBT community, the elderly.  If you need something from the Unity Democrats, forget it.  You are now being set adrift on your own little ice-floe.  Of course, they still need you to win, as evidenced by the 63 branch offices that the Obama campaign has set up in PA.  But here’s the message that must be delivered to those Pennsylvanians like my mom, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins: The Obama Democrats do not care about you any more than the Bush Republicans did.  Just vote for every woman on the ballot and hope that someday we’ll get to a 30% Solution.

The last post is from our friend, Heidi Li Feldman.  Her post is Want to fix the Democratic Party?  Steps you can take now is full of short term, practical actions that will yield long term results.  Heidi is a cockeyed optimist too.  Never say die.  There are still things you can do to make sure you the party has a core that will survive the massive meltdown it is headed for in November by stupidly putting Obama at the helm.  For example:

  • You can donate to the Denver Group and Democrats for Principle before party.  The funds will be used to buy ads in Capital Hill newspapers to let Congress know we’re still out here and there is strength and numbers in the Clinton wing of the party.
  • You can contribute to a slate of Democrats who are in unexpectedly tight races this year and whose presence in Congress will shore up that wing of the party.  We recommend Linda Stender, Kay Hagen, Kirsten Gillibrand, Al Franken, for example.  See out ActBlue page for other suggestions.
  • You can call your Senator and urge him/her to elect Clinton as Senate Majority Leader.  Heidi tells us that now is the time that the political jockeying for positions is done.  In a week or so, they will be ordering their inaugural ball gowns and putting aside business for the year.  Strike while the Iron is Hot.

Now, a lot of the actions require you to make a donation.  Please take the money you might have sent to the DNC this year and donate to the downticket Dems of your choice, then to the causes that will help you re-establish your party. The Denver Group has a plan, PUMAPac has activities and a movie.  It’s an investment in your future and the future of the country.

And remember, “We are the ones no one expected.”

Wednesday: Across the Divide

The party sure is divided.  Yep, I’m thinking Grand Canyon territory.  The party loyalists, their eyes glazed and glittering with feverish intensity, are screaming UNITY with an urgency that belies the reality of that claim.  Witness Debbie Wasserman-Schultz last week on Larry King Live insisting that Obama addressed the Women’s Congressional Caucus and everything was fine now.  There were air kisses and make-up sex and no, no one had an orgasm but they sure did come close!

As the Cry of the PUMA video says in it’s final frame “Simply proclaiming UNITY doesn’t make it so”.  And may I say something to the party leaders that I’m sure they will ignore, because why start paying attention now?  It isn’t Hillary’s job to unify the party. I know, I know, this comes as a shock to some of you but it’s true.  Hillary is not the presumptive nominee.  If you wanted her to unite the party, something that would have been a piece of cake for her, you shouldn’t have *selected* the guy.  You should have let the election process play out without a year’s worth of interference.

Hillary *could* just sit out the rest of the primary season and work on paying off her campaign debt.  Just like Joe Biden and Chris Dodd and John Edwards, nothing more should be asked of her but her support.  There is no need to drag her along on some dog and pony show where she is forced to ask her reluctant and adamant supporters to vote for Obama.  Either we will or we won’t. The party is behaving like evangelists who will not stop trying to convert us in spite of years of persistence and emotional blackmail and shaming and every other trick in the book. We got the message.  You can stop now.  Some of us LIKE being heathens. If we’re not going to paradise with you, maybe it’s because the thought of spending an eternity with fundamentalist evangelicals makes us physically ill.

But whatever.  It looks like some of the blogosphere are starting to figure out what’s causing the rift, some more cogently than others.  For example:

  • Did you know that Markos is a racist??  Yeah!  Yesterday, he decided to withhold his maxxed out contribution to Obama. (No, I am not providing a link) He claims that he hasn’t given a dime to any of the candidates during the primaries, no doubt to preserve the credibility of his famed impartiality (snort!).  But yesterday, Markos realized that Obama’s turn to the right was unacceptable.  There are a lot of things he could overlook, like throwing working class, elderly, women, gays, asians, latinos and Muslims under the bus and using Rovian campaign techniques to destroy Bill and Hillary’s characters when it comes to race.  No, those things were OK.  But when Obama shoved the Dirty F%&@ing Hippies under there, that’s when Kos blew the whsitle.  Well, we won’t say we told you so but we *did* mention on more than one occasion in the comments that Obama was going to have to turn to the right after he snagged the nomination but the Kossacks would have none of it.  And he will probably have to continue going right now because he’s on a bit of a slippery slope.  The more he goes right, the more votes he loses in his base, the more he has to go right.  That’s because he doesn’t have any core Democratic Principles to begin with to know where to stop.  That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you all this time, Kos, but you and your “shrieking band of adolescent zealots” just keep calling us racists.  You might as well send the $2300 bucks.  After all, as the party leaders have told us, “Where else are you going to go?”  Oh, and look for your “Now that you’re a Racist” welcome package in the mail with brochures on our program and coupons for free gifts.  It will arrive in a white envelope.
  • Speaking of “Where Else Are You Going to Go?” go read Anglachel’s brilliant piece on the subject titled “No Where Else To Go”.  I’m starting to get the feeling that the Clinton supporters are being punished by the Stevensonians because so many of the working class defected to the Republicans during the 80’s and 90’s.  Nevermind that the rest of us didn’t or that they have come out of their trance now and want a true Democrat this year.  They ain’t gonna get one.  The party elite is determined to hold us down and force Obama on us and they are filling the void of the country club voters that the Republicans deserted in their quest for world domination through movement onservatism.  For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s over yet.  There are still two months and a lot could happen between now and then especially if we make a lot of noise and Obama keeps alienating people like Kos.  For sure the swing voters he is courting right now don’t want anymore moralizing on patriotism, faith and race.  They just want to be able to fill their gas tanks.  Go read the whole piece.  Well worth it.
  • Heidi Li Feldman is trying to give the DNC one last chance to heal the divide before we take our votes and walk.  She has set up The Denver Group whose goal is to persuade the party to conduct the convention in a fair, open and transparent manner.  The means to do this are through advocacy for the millions of voters whose votes need to be honored at the convention.  This may require buying media so The Denver Group is accepting contributions for ads.  Please take a look and if you have the means, contribute to this worthy cause.

The blue PUMA is actually the old logo for my alma mater’s mascot, the Pitt Panther from the University of Pittsburgh.  I completely forgot that the panther is really another name for PUMA.  It must be in my blood.  And remember, JustSayNoDeal,

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