• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    William on Do Political Polls Have Value?…
    jmac on Do Political Polls Have Value?…
    riverdaughter on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    Beata on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    Propertius on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    Propertius on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    Beata on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    William on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    riverdaughter on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    thewizardofroz on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    Beata on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    Beata on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    thewizardofroz on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
    thewizardofroz on OMFG, we needed a Jaime Lannis…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    July 2021
    S M T W T F S
     123
    45678910
    11121314151617
    18192021222324
    25262728293031
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The Lack of Belief In Good
      Are humans good, bad or neutral? It’s an old philosophical debate, and not just in the West. Confucius thought they were born neutral, for example, while the later Confucian Mencius felt they were good, noting that everyone who saw a child fall into a well would be horrified. Others, including many Confucians and the Christian church, with original sin, have […]
  • Top Posts

“Why Don’t the Democrats Fight Harder?”

We hear or read this every day from various people. You cannot find a political thread on Twitter where this isn’t part of the comments. Of course, you can’t tell who is writing them; there are certainly people on the Far Right who employ it just to upset Democrats, and then there are the Russian troll-types who try to demoralize everybody with their “Just give up” message. And then there are some on the Far Left who have been arguing this long before social media; their position being that both parties are completely corrupt; Democrats are basically in league with Republicans; we need to get rid of them all, and vote for…something, they never quite tell us what. Jesse Jackson, or Ralph Nader, or Jill Stein, or Nina Turner, I guess (she’s running again). And of course, and always, Bernie Sanders, the person they never even heard of until 2016, but found just in time to be able to cause Hillary to lose to Trump.

As tiresome and unhelpful as this daily complaint is, there are certainly many long-time Democrats, including most of us here, who also have become legitimately frustrated at the fact that it seems that we are always being thwarted, and some would say outplayed, by Republicans. People say, “We won the Presidency, and we have a majority in the House, and a nominal majority in the Senate, and yet the Republicans seem to be getting their way on everything, and now they are trying to attain dictatorial control of the country by taking away the ability to vote of millions of people, mostly those who would vote for Democrats.”

This is true, at its most important level. If nothing is done about the hundreds of suppressive voting laws being passed, or which have already been enacted, and which the Supreme Court has clearly stated that it will do nothing to nullify, Republicans may well have achieved permanent victory. And that has to be prevented at all costs. But–and it may not matter very much in the long term, if we cannot do that–it is true that Democrats have actually achieved some successes already in the Biden Administration.

The bill which allocated trillions of dollars in various forms of relief for people and institutions which were greatly damaged by the effects of the pandemic, was a major step, and it was passed without one Republican vote, purely through budget reconciliation. The Democratic caucuses held together in admirable fashion. On the pending infrastructure bill, it looks as if Biden will get most of what he wants, through a rather complex fashion of passing part of the bill on a slightly bipartisan vote, then a substantial part of the remaining aspects through reconciliation.

Democrats are getting things done; and if it weren’t for the looming threat of Republicans gaining back and then keeping power through vote suppression, and even the ability of states to now toss out any result where Democrats win, we would mostly be encouraged by what is being accomplished. However, it is all overshadowed by what the state Republicans are doing to voting rights.

The problem is that Republicans have devolved into a party which has no motives other than that of holding power, and then stealing as much money as possible for themselves and their donors. And there is also the fascism we are seeing from people like DeSantis and Cotton, who want to purge the schools of anyone who does not teach what they want them to, and to get rid of journalists, or political commentators like Larry Sabato, simply for saying things that they don’t like. Should Republicans gain power, their rule will mostly feature those purges, a combination of the McCarthy era hearings, and the Stalin purges. Other than that, Republicans have no programs, no interest in helping the average citizen. They just want the power, the wealth, and the ability to eliminate anyone who is not part of their syndicate.

Why a substantial amount of people always vote for this, is hard to comprehend in a logical way; and we would be inclined to see it as a result of billions of dollars of propaganda poured out by Fox Network and other fascist networks; terribly uninformed and uneducated voters whom they create and brainwash; and generalized hate, the kind that Trump embodies and generates. There is no way very many of their voters actually want the Republican agenda. Polls in 2017 had about 80% of people against the massive tax cuts for the wealthy, which Republicans passed anyway. Other polls show overwhelming support for some form of gun background checks, as well as for combating climate change. But these voters either do not connect Republicans with their policies, or don’t really care, all they want to do is revel in “beating the libs,” and having them be upset and sad. This is a pathetic way to participate in a democracy, but it is what they are taught to become, by the very wealthy people and corporations which need them to enable their pursuit of profits at any cost.

Now, for the most part, Democratic voters actually care about issues. They often disagree among themselves, but they have ideas as to what bills would benefit various people, many of whom are not even them, but who are minorities in terms of economics or identity. But because they debate ideas, they are not the single-minded force that Republicans are, which obviously makes it harder to prevail. The most striking manifestation of this is in the presidential primary campaign debates. The Democratic candidates argue policy positions, try to carve out a niche which is different from the others. The Republicans essentially have no disagreements as to policy; their contentions are personal, as we saw in 2016, with the idiocy as to who had big hands. I remember a Republican debate in 2012, I think; and they were all against any tax increases whatsoever, so much that when the moderator asked which would be in favor of some kind of absolutely minimal raise, like $1,000 more a year for millionaires, no one raised their hand, not one.

So if one party is rigid in their adherence to a narrow set of positions, which essentially amount to, “no tax increases for anybody; no regulations on business; beat the libs,” and the other party loves to debate on virtually every issue, it is no wonder that the media, Republican controlled to be sure, always gives them credit for “boiling things down to one or two simple issues.” On TV the other day, one of the “Never Trump” Republican strategists, I think Tim Miller, was arguing that Democrats should run a national campaign in 2022, and I agree. You must convey the argument that the Republicans are the party of fascism (they will never use that term, but they should), of insurrection, of trying to keep people from voting, of The Big Lie. They are a party which should be defeated everywhere. The simple choice is, do you want to vote for the party which is trying to destroy our government, or the one which will defend democracy? People have to be thinking in those terms when they vote, not bogged down in issue arguments in various districts. Those are important in normal time, but they are subsumed now by the existential ones.

As to trying to pass voting rights bills, we know that the filibuster is the problem. Most Democratic senators would vote to negate it, at least for voting rights, but there are at least two, probably more, who will not. And that is very foolish and destructive, but it is not “the Democratic Party” which is being that way, it is a few senators, whom we cannot get past with only 50 Democrats in the Senate. If we had 54 or so, which we did have in 2009, until we lost them all back in 2010 and 2014, we would be able to pass it. Republicans have effectively and relentlessly run a strategy where all they need is a workable minority, plus the filibuster, to block every Democratic bill, except on the budget.

And we all know about the Supreme Court, and how Republicans used every device to gain control, while Democrats let it go for too long. Had Gore been given the victory that he surely won in 2000, by getting more electoral votes, since he clearly won Florida; had Obama fought harder for Garland, perhaps by refusing to give funds to Red states unless he got a hearing; and most importantly, had a bunch of incredibly dumb and arrogant people on the outskirts of the Left, not helped Trump win, and put Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett on the Court, rather than the respected jurists whom Hillary would have picked, Republicans would have not had anything close to the power they now wield.

It was as simple as that, particularly with regard to the need for everyone to vote for and support Hillary, rather than complain and sneer at her, and say they were not going to vote, or cast “conscience votes” for Stein or Johnson. Only a certain group of Democrats would be that idiotic. Republicans would never do it, they want to win above all. Some so-called Democrats were so in love with their own voices and positions, that they felt it was demeaning to them to have to stop yelling, and get behind Hillary, a devoted Democrat whose positions were in line with the thinking of our party since the Franklin D. Roosevelt era. What they may well have done, is to have nuanced themselves out of existence, though some of them regularly pop up on TV cable news, so maybe that was what it was really about for them, the publicity and the money and the sense of self-importance. While the rest of us feel a sense of impotence in terms of being able to turn the tide back.

Then there is the fact that the Republican Party, so-called, is full of fanatics who will stop at nothing to “win,” even if it means destroying everything. The later Westerns, and the gangster and noir movies, effectively presented such situations. Imagine a Western, where the leader of the bad guys and his men are in a large meeting hall with you, the leader of the good people, and your men; and both of the forces are armed. And he says that he will give you two choices. Either you throw your guns down, and leave town within an hour, or there will be a shootout. And you say that if there were a shootout, almost everyone will be killed. And he says that he is willing to take that chance. And that his side will also kill all the wives and children, and he knows that your side will not. And he tells you that if you are right, and everyone is killed, he has supporters outside with instructions to burn the entire town down, so that nothing is left.

If one side is so impervious to logic, and so fanatical, that they will either get their way, or destroy everyone else, it is very hard to know how to deal with them, if indeed you do not want to abandon the town and run away. It is said that one must not negotiate with terrorists, but if the number of terrorists is so large, and the damage they can do is so momentous, it becomes almost like a choice between Scylla and Charybdis.

And isn’t that what these Republicans do? Threaten not to raise the debt ceiling; and they meant it, because they are too ignorant to know the damage, and they are too fixated on winning, to care. Try to actually overturn the election, and they are still trying to. Make as many laws as they can so that their opponents cannot vote; if there were only two people voting in every election, and they both were Republicans, they would be thrilled with that kind of victory.

So even though we know that we must fight and triumph, it is hardly like we are playing in a fair fight with a fair referee. Our opponents are filled with fanaticism and hate, and an appetite for violence. These are things which our side almost never has, which means that we are fighting someone who will go past boundaries that we will never cross. And any reasonable person would concede that this is not easy; and that saying, “Why don’t the Democrats fight harder?” is reasonable, but it does seem to avoid the fact that Republicans will also go further than we will. How far? We can only speculate, but it does not look like they have any moral limits.

In the most bitter of ironies, the Republican Party, which has bellowed, “We love America!” for a century, really does not, at this point. They do not love democracy. They do not believe in a right to vote for everyone. They do not believe in free speech, or freedom of the press. They do not believe in one single principle stated in the Bill of Rights, except the right to bear arms, and they have twisted that out of anything conceived of by the framers. So as much as Democrats may want to pretend otherwise, they are not dealing with patriotic Americans who just have a different approach, they are fighting against fascists no less scary than those we defeated in WWII. And then we had almost every American behind us, doing everything that they could do to help. Now we have around 57% of the people behind us, and most of the media either against us, or not doing very much to help. And the supreme body in the judicial branch has literally been bought and paid for by the fascists. So this is very far from an easy war to win, though not impossible.

Finally, people who are Democrats are usually nicer, kinder, more empathic. They are different in kind than most Republicans. They don’t go for the figurative jugular; they would like to compromise; they project their own natures onto their foes, so that they still believe that reasonableness and following the rule of law is sufficient, because it is “the right thing.” Meanwhile Republicans simply refused to have a hearing on Judge Garland, who would certainly have been confirmed. Republicans pretended it was all about something they invented in their heads, that a President should not be able to nominate a Justice in the last year of his term. Then when it was the other way, they appointed one in his last month, and said,”What are you going to do about it? We have the power, and we will use it.” There are more examples than that. Our side almost always tries to follow the rules, do the right thing; their side couldn’t care less, their guiding principle is, “What do we have to do to get our way, every time?”

So we can keep going along the way we are, which will get some bills passed; but realize that the minute the Republicans gain a one-seat majority in either legislative branch, we will never get one important bill through, just like in the last six years of the Obama presidency. We can try to use their kind of scorched earth tactics, but it goes against our nature, even now, though there are a few signs, as when the Texas Democrats walked out of the chamber to deny a quorum, that we are becoming slightly more assertive. I rather wish we had a Lyndon Johnson, or Sam Rayburn, or Jim Wright, to ram bills through, but of course those were all Southerners who played things the way that Republicans do. When the Republicans took over the South, we lost those kind of hardball players.

We really never thought it would go so far, that Republicans would engage in a concerted effort to take away the right to vote. But I guess that we should have, because it goes along with everything else they do. We don’t even gerrymander any more, our states use nonpartisan commissions to draw districts This disparity may cost us twenty Congressional seats that we would otherwise have. We can’t override the filibuster. We can’t get D.C. or Puerto Rico made states, because of the filibuster. We can’t expand the Supreme Court, because of the filibuster. So we have to do what we can, and hope that somehow we can overcome all the vote suppression, and win more seats in Congress to be able to end the filibuster. All this is immensely frustrating and anxiety-producing. But even so, the daily question. “Why don’t the Democrats fight harder?” doesn’t really get at the heart of it.

And the plaint almost never comes up with any concrete things that the Democrats could actually do, other than eliminate the filibuster, of course. And then that ends up with, “How do they compel Kyrsten Sinema to change her mind?” I don’t think that they can, so we need some more workable ideas, and fast. Again, Republicans are willing to blow up the entire system to win, and Democrats are understandably not, which limits us. What we must do is register as many people as we can, teach them how to surmount the hurdles to cast their ballot; and run hundreds of millions of dollars in ads to convince people that Republicans are trying to take away our democracy and our freedom to vote, and that every single one of them must be removed from office, and that people should absolutely stop re-electing their Republican state legislators simply out of reflexive behavior, or because they seem friendly. And the billionaires who really do not want to live in a totalitarian state, should spend their money right now, to help in this effort.