Occasionally, I have to do a gut check to make sure that I’m not the one out of step with the rest of the country. If I read nothing but the left blogosphere, I’d come away with the idea that Obama will have a bit of trouble winning the election this year but not too much to worry about. Because Romney is a heartless bot who loves X-games Capitalism and true Christians distrust him. And anyway, the Republicans are conducting a War on Women and in the end, women will come flocking to Obama. So, even if Obama turns to the right and promises to compromise on the deficit to the point that he is indistinguishable from the Republicans, Democrats will realize that he is the only one standing between them and a fascist corporate dystopia where we are all doomed to despair. With Obama we get someone who is really smart but so unfairly put upon. Really, it’s not his fault. He inherited this mess. The public is being too demanding, he’s doing the best he can and, unfortunately, that means people will have to suffer because the Republicans are standing in his way.
Also, the Clintons are Third Way Democrats who can’t be trusted even though they make Obama look like a political amateur.
But I live in the real world.
I live in a state that has seen one of its major industries dismantled piece by piece and moved to Massachusetts, China and India. I come from a professional class of people who have slipped into the precariat class even though only a few years ago, they were solidly middle class. I live in a suburb where 80 teachers were fired after Chris Christie took office. I live in a metropolitan region where the train system has increased fares by more than 30% in the past couple of years. I live in a town where the new grocery store closed its door a year ago and its building is an empty shell in a strip mall full of empty shells. I live in a state where the property taxes are so high that even if you manage to buy your house outright, you can’t afford to live here without a job that pays good money. I live in a region where food prices are getting really crazy.
I live in a country where if you fall because you’ve lost your job, descent is quick and there is very little cushioning to make your landing safe.
Maybe the economy is coming back but I go to professional meetings all of the time and at some of them, everyone there is networking for a job.
That’s the way it is in the real world.
A couple of years ago, Jon Corzine ran a campaign much like Obama’s. Property taxes are a big issue here in this state. They’re highly regressive and burdensome to homeowners. Corzine formed a commission and then threw up his hands in frustration. He ended up doing very little. During the fallout from the economic collapse of 2009, he ended up doing very little. While the state was hemorrhaging STEM jobs, he ended up doing very little. And the campaign he ran on was, “I did the best I could, there’s nothing much I could do but Chris Christie will be a terrible.”
And he lost.
The spin is that Christie was attractive to a lot of people. But I saw Christie in debate in person and he was nothing special. He wasn’t profound or dynamic. He was just a morbidly obese average Republican conservative spouting average Republican stuff. It looked like he was phoning it in. There was an independent candidate, Chris Daggett, who shined in those debates. He actually seemed to understand the state and seemed interested in doing something different. He got my vote. In fact, he got just enough votes that Corzine lost.
The country is not turning to the right. The country is looking for someone who acts like he or she gives a shit.
I don’t like Christie and he’s done some damage. The Democratic legislature keeps his more murderous impulses reined in. But the national campaign feels an awful lot like New Jersey a couple of years ago and Obama’s campaign looks a lot like Jon Corzine’s.
I’m not living in the fantasy that the Democratic candidate is going to pull this one off this year. This is not 2008 and his candidacy is no longer historic. People can and will hold him responsible for his lackluster performance and will not accept excuses. They’re burned out by the abortion wars and the whacked out suppression of women in politics by both parties. And anyway, the Democrats have yielded so much ground on women’s rights that we don’t take their scare tactics about abortion seriously anymore. There are already 5 votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe but it hardly matters. The damage is done in the states with barely a peep from Democrats or the national women’s organizations that they have co-opted. Meanwhile, there’s no jobs bill to put us back to work and our taxes are dumped into the Wall Street money pit with no accountability. It’s demotivating to the Democratic base and it’s frustrating. And it makes us angry. We just want someone who acts like he or she gives a shit.
Democrats should be worried. You can’t force people to vote for your candidate or see something in him that the rest of us have missed in the past four years. And activists and bloggers aren’t doing themselves any favors by going along with the program without question or panicking in fear of what’s to come. Now is the time to pressure the Democrats to do something, make them take a stand and show that they care. After Labor Day, it will be too late.