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Hold out vs. Sold out: Connecting the dots between 2008 and 2010 (Part II)

(Part II of II. Continued from Part I.)

Disaffected Democrat

Hillary’s holdouts were not some political zombie species with two heads (that two-headed zombie would be Washington with its Ds and Rs).

Paul Douglas in 1932, as quoted in the WSJ (H/T Gmanedit):

“Back in 1932, the future Illinois Sen. Paul Douglas advised progressives not to expect too much from the Democratic Party. It was, he wrote, ‘maintained by the business interests’ as a kind of ‘lifeboat.’ Whenever the GOP ship sprung a leak—whenever Republicans were no longer willing or able to do business’s bidding—the interests simply piled into the other party and made their escape.”

Hillary’s holdouts were disaffected Democrats who saw that the GOP had sprung that leak and Wall Street had piled into the Obama party to make its escape.

May 31, 2008: We could no longer pretend the Democratic party was the lesser of two evils.

The Dems had an obvious vested interest in delegitimizing any backlash against the party in 2008 (same as they do in 2010). They dismissed anyone who bucked party unity (whether that meant protest voting, voting third party, or abstaining altogether) as a raycist Republican ratfrakker or a vagina voting harridan. This smear campaign in turn made it easier for various elements to co-opt the PUMA banner for reasons other than what it was intended when it was coined.

If getting Democrats to agree is like herding cats, that cliché goes double for organizing disaffected Democrats.

PUMA was a wild child. It suffered for being a truly spontaneous overnight uprising from the grassroots in response to events happening quickly on the ground and in real time (the primaries, WWTSBQ, RBC ruling). With no headstart and not enough time in the wilderness yet to catch up organizationally, we were no match for the deep pockets and entrenched power structures running the show in DC. The Obama Left maligned us from one side while the Clinton-hating Vast Right Wing manipulated the message from the other. Raw emotions and hardening of attitudes (both pro and anti Obama) along false lines (either you’re with us or you’re against us) took care of the rest. All the activism, smears, and co-optation eventually caved in on itself.

By the time the election was over, I had outgrown the rallying cry of “party unity my ass.” What once began as a vehicle for disenfranchised voters to conscientiously reject a party that had left us behind…had become flypaper for interests that diverged quite far from my own as a disaffected Democrat. Everything had become so rigid on all sides. Just days after Obama was elected, I got kicked off a blog in the pumasphere for not being anti-Obama enough. But, I was still too much of a dissident for the Obama Left.

I opted to move forward as an independent—one who leans liberal in terms of policy but is disillusioned with the Democratic party, as well as with the progressive movement today. It seems to be overrun by opportunists using progressivism selectively as the means to win power for the sake of itself rather than using power as the means to reach progressive ends.

Present-day progressives act as if their creative class bullshit is better simply because it sounds more polished. They see their glossy reflections in the mirror of Obama and think the song is about them. In their eyes, the Democratic party saying buh bye to Bubbas is an electoral win. Substance is a moot point. If you dare to even raise an eyebrow as to why the latest iteration of progressivism looks more and more like privatization, Obamapologists are bound to accuse you of asking questions out of economic resentment, political ignorance or obstinacy, primary sour grapes, latent racism, or Debbie Downer handwringing. Bittergate lives on. Their audacity to persist in their Hope-coma at the cost of not seizing any opportunity to advance the policy argument to the left is stunning. Their ability to suspend critical thought altogether and focus the harshest and most sustained of their attacks on the disenfranchised (the unwashed masses of Walmart who vote against their own fat ass interests, oh the humanity!) while excusing the people in power (pols will be pols!) is just sad. I regret that I was once a part of their tribe.

There is one Corporate party in American politics these days. It has two wings—D and R. Both are corrupt. The difference is that I once expected more out of the Democratic wing.

Revisiting the Protest: What Not Voting Obama was Really About

Withholding support from the Dems and/or protest voting in 2008 was widely misunderstood—it wasn’t about jumping on the GOP train and adopting its politics. At least not for me, nor for the overwhelming majority of the Hillary holdouts I know. Protesting was our way of standing up to a party that we realized had been continually selling out the interests we cared about and saying, “where else ya gonna go? If you don’t vote for us, you will end up with the party that is 2% more evil and it will be the apocalypse.”

Furthermore, here’s the real difference between an Obama presidency and a McCain presidency. If McCain had tried to pass the health insurance bill that Obama just passed, virtually everyone on the left would have been able to correctly identify that it was a Republican bill and that codifying the Hyde amendment is an affront to women’s rights. Instead the Obama Left is cheering it on while disappointed progressives and women’s organizations are too timid, weak, or unable to kick the koolaid themselves to really take Obama and Pelosi on for selling out the American left and American women.

In other words, left-wing opposition has been diffused in the age of Obama while corporatist policies continue. The right-wing, expedient as ever, is mining the backlash toward these policies. Even though these policies are very much the GOP’s own type of corporatist mush and the GOP is probably laughing their asses off behind closed doors, these are policies happening under the Democratic brand. These anti-Democratic policies get rebranded as left, the right rails against them saying they aren’t right-wing enough, taking what was supposed to be an era of progressive realignment in the other direction. Which makes it all the more revealing that Obama and the Dems persevere in their farcical appeals to bipartisanshit only to ignore their own liberal base (what Rahm really meant was that the left is fookin neutered). That is change I could have lived without and I voted accordingly. I knew the left was getting punk’d.

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

The current Democratic leadership (Obama, Pelosi, Reid) has made a mockery of the Democratic agenda that I had once been able to envision as the light at the end of the Bush-Cheney years.

We’ll never know what kind of president Hillary would have been. But, I feel pretty confident that if she had proposed a mandate without a public option and used abortion rights as a bargaining chip, she would have had her feet held to the fire for it. I doubt Noam Chomsky would have said he would have held his nose to vote for it if it were Hillary’s second attempt at healthcare reform, either. For reasons of character, history, and the heightened expectations placed on her as a woman, Hillary would have had more to prove and less room for error than Obama.

“In legislation no bread is often better than half a loaf.”

“Half a loaf, as a rule, dulls the appetite and destroys the keenness of interest in attaining the full loaf. A halfway measure never fairly tests the principle and may utterly discredit it. It is certain to weaken, disappoint, and dissipate public interest. Concession and compromise are almost always necessary in legislation, but they call for the most thorough and complete mastery of the principles involved, in order to fix the limit beyond which not one hair’s breadth can be yielded.

–-the late Robert M. “Fighting Bob” La Follette, Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator

Hillary had been in the arena of healthcare reform long enough to know that limit. And, I wouldn’t put it past the sippy cup crowd to actually have primaried her as a sitting president if she had yielded one hair’s breadth beyond it. Nor would I have been surprised to see Michael Moore himself start a killbill movement. Most of the people cheering Obama on for his corporatist crumb would have had a helluva time giving Hillary her due for her ¾ a liberal loaf. And, you know what? That wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing in my books. It would have kept the pressure on her to do more.

Similarly, Hillary wouldn’t have gotten a Nobel Peace prize while escalating troops in Afghanistan. Nor would McCain have gotten one, for that matter–and, that wouldn’t have been the end-of-the-world if we were going to have more of the same anyway. We might as well have had the opposition to it not only alive and well but the loudest of it coming from a left-of-center perspective.

What is done is done, but it is also prologue.

Regardless of whether we voted for Obama or not, there is a consensus emerging on the left that the Democrats are throwing away an FDR moment after 8 years of GOP Fail and turning it into a RWR (Reagan) moment. And, yet there is still a divide. In the eyes of those on the other side of it, those of us who did not vote for Obama are irrelevant because Obama won without our votes. But, how relevant are their voices if they are making it a given that they will come home in 2012?

While those of us who bucked party unity and those who bowed to it disagreed strongly on voting strategy in the 2008 general election, more often than not those of us who share the same basic political space on the left (FDR-style liberalism) agree about the sorry state of the Democratic party and the agenda they are pushing in 2010.

The longer the activist left completely disregards the option of holding out as a valid voting strategy while shunning anyone disaffected enough to exercise that option, the more the left will be sold out.

The Sunday “Supplements”

Sigh…once again the news cycle is nothing but depressing tales of how we continue our downward spiral finding ourselves farther and farther away from the elusive American Dream.  I don’t know about you but there is a saturation point and I think we exceeded it months ago.  Not to worry though, I’ve gathered together a collection of links to help you escape, waste a bit of time, and maybe chuckle a bit.  So kick off your slippers and snuggle in that big comfy chair to enjoy your Sunday Supplements.  You’ve earned the break.

Links to Pass the Time Away

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day from the Hubble Telescope.  There are some amazing images to behold.


Speaking of astronomy, some people still haven’t gotten over Pluto’s big dissing.  Especially these third graders.  Hate Mail from Third Graders.  An excerpt from “Madeline’s Rant.”

Why can’t Pluto be a planet? If it’s small doesn’t that mean it doen’t have to be a planet anymore.  Some people like Pluto.  If it doen’t exist then they don’t have a favorite planet. Please write back, but not in cursive because I can’t read cursive.


What is your Poverty IQ?  Take the quiz provided by Stanford U.  You may be surprised by what you know and don’t know.


Jeebuschripesonacracker move over.  Forget the Cheeto-shaped Jesus and the Jesus on a pancake.  This website is dedicated to the holy apparition as it appears on…on…on…Oh, just go see.  This is a Jesus vision I can really get behind.


Think you’re pretty quick on the draw?  Take this Reaction Time test and find out.

What the hell, here’s a Stupid Test. It really is stupid.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


How well do you know your presidents?  Well enough to identify them from their baby pictures?  Lil’ President’s Photo Gallery from Life Magazine.


If you enjoy photographic art, you will likely be awestruck by the narrative photography of James Quantz, Jr.


Remember the moment when you found out that not everyone can be a “Single Lady?”  If not, you can relive or live the trauma vicariously through this little boy.


Ustream’s latest sensation Molly the Owl and her babies can be viewed round the clock via webcam.   Judging by the chat room comments, people are spending inordinate amounts of time observing the nesting activities.  It’s actually quite addictive.  Not Las Vegas wedding chapel addictive, but addictive nonetheless.


Photobombers are those people, animals, or things that upstage the picture’s primary focus, often to the chagrin of the photographer and/or subjects.


This courageous teacher has decided to test the school lunch system…by ingesting the same slop served to her students every day in 2010.  She blogs her experiences at The School Lunch Project: Fed up with lunches.


I haven’t watched American Idol in years, but this video illustrates the big reason for the show’s success — “Tween” girls.


Shhhh…Nora is about to begin her concerto.


Amazing amazing amazing!  WebEcoist brings you a photographic journal of  70 Extremely Exotic Plants, Flowers, Forests, and Trees.


This is both enchanting and enlightening.  The Plastic Bag (via Miss Cellania).

A film by Ramin Bahrani.

Struggling with its immortality, a discarded plastic bag (voiced by Werner Herzog) ventures through the environmentally barren remains of America as it searches for its maker.


Sawyer from LOST is a love ’em or hate ’em character.  For those of us that love ’em (like me and my LOST buddy katiebird), here is proof positive that there is something sexy about the way he says his famous catch phrase:


News You May Have Missed…and for good reason.

Apparently a woman tried to sneak a corpse onto a plane in London.  Sunglasses may work for celebrities, but they can’t mask the stench of decaying flesh.


From the Department of WTF…Man Marries [woman-shaped] Pillow.


Apparently tomorrow, slow death on an unnecessarily unhealthy bun will become available at your local KFC.  KFC’s Bacon Sandwich on Fried Chicken.


Say what????


FYI, if you’re swimming around East Hampton Beach NYand come across a syringe, be advised that it may contain enough sedative to knock a whale out.  And by the way, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would like their whale dart back.


The next time you’re visiting Okinawa Japan, you may want to stop by the Churaumi Aquarium.


Maybe we haven’t discovered “life” on other planets because we’re stuck in an egocentric paradigm about how “life” is sustained.  This discovery may alter that paradigm: New species lives without oxygen.


Ahh,…the joys of 21st Century manscaping.  Let’s hear it for tidy nostrils. Real Men Get Their Nostrials Waxed.


Out of work?  Maybe there’s a new line of work awaiting you — It seems that there are plenty of people looking for “Personal Assistants” despite the recession.


Classic tale, a teenage boy, an empty house, a party.  Everything’s predictable including the kid’s arrogant attitude about the whole thing. Spoiled, nasty, and in need of some neglected discipline. And what is up with that hair?


Yeah baby!  Now we’re talking.  Scientists have created a 3-dimensional invisibility cloak.  I wonder what the price is on Amazon.


This is so cringeworthy, I’m issuing a warning for males in advance.  But let this be a lesson to those who take their high testosterone levels too seriously.  The Art of Manliness blog discusses: Male Rights of Passage from around the world. The process of “subincision” makes circumcision sound like a walk in the park.  On a scale of “OMGs” it’s a certain 10.


The Atlantic explores the question: What would you do if you were the last person on Earth?


I can’t decide whether this is the most horrifying or most incredible story I’ve come across.  It involves a smoke break taken by Nicholas White in October of 1999. 41 hours later… (warning, if you have elevator phobias this will likely exacerbate the fear).

The full story of the ordeal was covered in The New Yorker: Up then down.


And now,…The award for the most unique bargaining demand by a union: Nurses Union – Care” does not include sex.


In Indiana, a dairy farmer has found that his cows have caused methane gas bubbles “the size of small houses” to form.  The neighbors are none too pleased about the situation.   Is that like farting in a bathtub?


Speaking of gas, it may just be the thing causing those “near death experiences.”  National Geographic reports on the medical theories linking excess carbon dioxide and tales of those who supposedly passed to the other side and then back again.


From the annals of Men Who Can’t Seem to Grow Up: Men Threw Urine and Feces at Holiday Inn Manager.


I’ve heard some pretty horrific medical error horror stories before, but this one gets some kind of award: Woman sues doctor for setting her on fire.


Some stories need no additional commentary. Police: Drunk Pa. Man Tried To ‘Revive’ Opossum.  True story.


If you’re someone whose life will be devastated by the revelation that there are no space aliens in Area 51, do not click this link.


Gah!! look what this dentist was doing!  I’ve played the game 1001 uses for a paperclip before but this never came up.  {{shivers}}


Have you found yourself jonesin’ for a jelly donut? craving for a creme puff? pining for a peanut butter cup? begging for a Big Mac™?  You’re not alone.  Scientists have determined that “Junk Food is the New Crack.”


What would you do for a McDonald’s Fish Filet?  This guy gives new meaning to the jingle “Give me back that filet o fish…give me that fish.”


The Final Word

This is cute times one thousand.  Buddy versus the deer. Enjoy.

Have a great rest of your Sunday!