Right now, the rightwing populist voice is the loudest one in the room, and it is going unchecked. The political discourse in this country is going from wingnut to WTF. (How does saying “homosexuality” is not “an equally valid and successful option” translate into “not homophobic” anyway? That’s strictly rhetorical, btw. I could ask for someone to explain, except that I don’t ever want to understand that insanity.)
The only glimmer of reprieve from the dominance of WTF politics is if the right’s rhetoric and policy agenda eventually goes so far off the cliff that it reawakens the liberal tendencies in voters again.
The teapartiers are madhatters, but what does "progressive" even stand for these days? Progressive brain disease?
Perhaps if we let the entire warped system burn itself down, in the process we can phase out this mealymouthed modern “progressivism” (which is so meaningless and formless it really ends up being a backdoor to runaway privatization). Maybe once we’re rid of the “progressive” brain rot on the left, then we can bring genuine liberalism back as an actual alternative to the rightwing’s slide down the rabbit hole. The liberal line in the sand wouldn’t be the size of gov’t, but rather a line drawn in support of liberty and equality and effective gov’t that works for the American people, regardless of size. There’s a chance the electorate would be ripe for exactly that kind of a message after witnessing where the unmitigated fury of the GO(Tea)P madhatters is bound to lead us if left unchecked.
Unfortunately, to even have a hope of getting there, we’ll have to go through Dante’s Inferno first. In the meantime the left is paralyzed, stuck between Barack and a Rand place, thinking of themselves as either for President Obama or enabling the rightwing if they go after Obama themselves.
The left, in essence, is unable to tap into the voter disaffection and to give voice to the resultant populist frustration from a left-of-center perspective in a compelling way that rivals and ultimately drowns out the anger on the right.
That’s the underlying conundrum–I can’t see the left paralyzed under John McCain and Sarah Palin at all. Quite the opposite. The left would have challenged a McCain Administration, whereas they are largely silent and neutered when it comes to the Obama Administration.
Oh sure, we hear President O’Sulks-a-lot complaining about the left and VicePresident WhinyPants following suit taunting the “the dullest audience” he’s ever spoken to. But, really the interplay here is all very ineffectual on the activist left’s part.
The grassroots base is the one that is depressed and unmotivated, but it’s not because there is so much intense criticism of Obama from the left. If the left were actually holding Obama accountable, the grassroots wouldn’t even be so disaffected in the first place.
In actuality, no real pressure is being felt by Obama to change any of his ways at all–you can see that reality reflected back every day in how Axelrod & co. have no qualms about calling the base names.
All this hippie-punching is a pathetic attempt to court the Independents that Obama has lost, though these attempts are seemingly in vain, as Independents are simply gone for this election cycle and they’re not coming back. But, then the Obama permanent campaign only cares about the next election cycle anyway.
The Obama camp has no intention of addressing the fact that the populist grassroots are not being spoken to from the left–that is the real issue driving the proverbial enthusiasm gap. To get voters out in the midterms you actually have to give them a reason to come out and vote. Instead all the DINOs in power have done is give voters reasons to stay home or vote incumbents out.
Moreover, the tiff between Obama and the Sippy Cup faction of the professional left is not the same exact thing as the disaffection happening at the grassroots voter level. There are some overlaps and both dynamics are related, but they’re not the same exact quantity.
The lack of voter enthusiasm is what is driving Obama to attack the left in the first place. Got that?
Now, on the other hand, the reason the Sippy Cup crowd is huffing and puffing right now is more because the sippy cup drinkers have finally started to notice that Obama’s claws come out when he is “periodically down” and he needs to launch attacks on disaffected Democratic constituencies to boost his own appeal. In 2008 the creative class thought they were the ones they were waiting for and they would be the bosses, but now they’ve come to learn that Obama’s targeted bullying includes using the activist and “professional” ranks of the left as a punching bag and not just the icky “low information” grassroots.
Whereas Obama’s infamous “periodically down” attack was on Hillary for having the unladylike audacity to challenge her political opponent, I’m using his words against him to flat-out mock him for bullying his base as well to mock his base for being so blind that they didn’t notice this pattern of his during 2008. As a matter of fact, the creative class were all too happy to take part in this pattern themselves so long as the bullying was happening to the Bubbas below them.
Here, let me sort of diagram what’s going on:
DINO President & Congress sell out the American people → Grassroots are disaffected → Independent voters are scurrying away like cockroaches exposed to light (that’s not a dig at independents; I’m an independent myself, but the MSM dimmed the lights for the electorate in 2008) → Obama and his DINO allies launch attacks on the left to boost their own appeal → the Sippy Cup faction of the professional left is temporarily indignant that Obama took the lids off their sippy cups to make a point to the long-gone Independents, who he needs to recapture to win in 2012 → Assuming nothing changes in the dysfunctional relationship between Obama and his base then… → …the Donna Bs out there will play sympathetic to the poor punch drunk left while subversively helping these creative classers convince themselves that they can do without the lids on their sippy cups, it’s the Obama koolaid inside the cup that matters anyway → by 2012, the WATBs on the sippy cup left will have doubled down on their eternal security blanket of having to vote O because the GOP candidate would be 2% more evil.
Nowhere in there is the activist left putting any real pressure on Obama to hold him accountable from the left. Nowhere are the activists on the left taking back the conversation from the johnny come lately tea party activists on the right. Nowhere are the career progressives collectively drawing a line in the sand and showing a willingness and readiness to walk away with their votes, their money, their time, and their activism. Nowhere have they stood up and mobilized an effort to say that the suckitude of the GOP and of the Tea Party does not cancel out the fact that Democrats have failed to do what they were elected to do.
Instead, these career progressives have settled in to using the progressive banner and its rhetoric as a means to further their own influence and buzzworthiness, rather than using their influence as a means to further substantively progressive ends and the cause of good governance. Much of their opposition to Bush during his presidency has lost its moral weight, because these same progressives have refused to hold Obama to the same standards. Their intellectual dishonesty has set the cause of grassroots liberalism way back. All the political capital that was built from 2000-2008 has been squandered.
I find no comfort or relief or consolation in any of this. For me, the sadly (and regrettably) more comforting thought is that no matter how much I would have disagreed with John McCain, I could have counted on the left to oppose the increasingly corporate agenda of DC during a Mac & Mama Grizzly Administration, instead of the left making excuses for it.
What we actually ended up with is to me the worst of all worlds–a moderate Republican Administration in everything but name and the backlash and opposition to it ironically being owned by the rightwing.
Obama swings right, the right wing swings even further right, which gives Obama cover for his going right in the first place (it’s a center-right country, goes the excuse, what’s poor Obie to do), and the cycle goes on and on.
CNN put out some interesting polling over the weekend, which I discussed in my Saturday roundup. The headline out of that poll was that the Bush brand was rebounding and is on par with the Obama brand right now, which is not a shock to any of us who held out for Hillary. I can just picture Jeb Bush reacting to those poll trends. He probably can’t wipe the smile off his face. One would have liked to think no way no how another Bush could become president, but Obama has kept that bit of Hope alive. I digress, though.
Another one of the poll’s findings was that, despite the electorate souring on Obama and warming back up enough on Bush that they’re both on a level playing field now, most voters still think Obama is doing a “better job” than McCain would have. For an electorate that voted for change and got shortchanged instead, it can be comforting to hold onto the conventional wisdom that McPalin would have been worse. But, that kind of comfort comes at a cost. It obscures what is really ailing our politics and gets people to confuse the symptoms for the disease.
I find no silver lining in reminding myself that our only major party choices for president in the 2008 general were between bad and worse, with Obama’s opponent arguably being 2% more evil. When a Democratic Administration invokes “state secrets” to avoid any legal challenge to its policy of targeted killings, I really have to wonder about that 2% and which direction it goes, anyway.
When the policies of Bush-Cheney are being rebranded as the “new normal” and as Democratic instead of as GOP, I think that is a whole new territory of evil in itself.
Furthermore–and this will sound counterintuitive to the people who reluctantly voted for Obama because they feared McCain would do a worse job–but the job that I’m concerned about, i.e. the job of holding the Administration accountable from the left, would have been done better under McCain than it is being done under Obama.
There would have been no Nobel Peace Prize for McCain escalating in Afghanistan. Of that, I have no doubt.
Every time a progressive head explodes over the latest Obama sellout or hippie-punch, I imagine the song below playing in the background (see the music video to the right of the lyrics for full effect). The DINOcrats and their progressive enablers are a political coalition with a death wish.
Alas, the left is losing its favorite game:
I only know what I’ve been working for
Another you so I could love you more
I really thought that I could take you there
But my experiment is not getting us anywhere
I had a vision I could turn you right
A stupid mission and a lethal fight
I should have seen it when my hope was new
My heart is black and my body is blue
I’m losing my favourite game
You’re losing your mind again
But you’re still the same
I’m losing my baby
You’re losing a saviour and a saint
Round and round the progressives go trying to turn Obama right. Or should that be “trying to turn Obama left”?
To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure what direction today’s “progressives” are trying to turn Obama anymore. They sure do seem be going in circles that enable his ever increasing tilt to the right, though. Perhaps the Circle D logo is a substantive description of that side of the aisle after all.
Voting is ultimately a very personal and private thing. Votes are not owed to anyone. Those votes belong to the voters and must be earned. Everyone has to find the voting strategy that best suits their principles and goals. Career progressives can keep on losing their favorite game if they want to. That is certainly their prerogative.
But, the rest of us don’t have to blindly throw our votes away on the Ds and Rs. Voting strategically for one over the other in local races is one thing, but on the national level, we don’t have to keep helping the legacy parties build a Bipartisan Wall of Disenfranchisement between We-the-People and our government.
Remember in November:
- Hold Out vs. Sold Out. (more info)
- If you don’t want to be punched, don’t vote for a hippie-puncher. (more info)
- Nobody could have predicted Bush, Iraq, Derivatives, and Obama would be disasters. I’m nobody, and I endorse this message. (more info)
- Obama Don’t Preach, You Sat on the Sidelines First. Obama Don’t Preach, the country is in trouble deep. But they’ve made up their mind, they’re not keeping the DINOs. (more info)
- Sarah Palin is neither the problem, nor the solution. (more info)
- Trying to choose between the Pelosis/Obamas and the Angles/Millers is like trying to choose between malaria or smallpox. (more info)
- What Would Alice Stokes Paul Do? See youtube to the right for clues.
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