The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Lack of Netroots Enthusiasm for Progressive Candidates in Primaries

An acquaintance noted that compared to prior years, Netroots progressives have not gotten behind progressive challengers in primaries this year with any enthusiasm.

All I can say is that while various individuals may sound like good candidates, unfortunately, the netroots is depressed overall about the utility of primaries and elections, and that part which isn’t depressed is busy pushing Obama’s initiatives and defending Obama, not pushing candidates the Obama machine isn’t behind.

This is unfair to the good candidates, no doubt, but it is understandable.  Also, for most of a year, everyone’s energy was completely sucked into the never-ending health care debate, and many progressives regarded how it ended up as a demoralizing defeat, a defeat made worse by the fact that it was a betrayal from what many thought was “our own side”.

There’s a massive trust issue.  Many readers have a hard time believing in candidates any more, especially after the way so many “progressive heroes” have repeatedly caved in the last year.

Again, that’s probably unfair, but when even Dennis Kucinich can’t be counted on to stand up and vote the way he said he would, against a bill that he himself says is bad, and when every person who said “no public option means a vote against”, caved, well, sorry, there’s an enthusiasm gap on our side.

Betrayal has consequences. New candidates may not have betrayed anyone, but the people whose footsteps they’re following in did.

I am unsure how to fix this.  It seems virtually no one in DC on the Progressive side can be trusted to stand up to heavy pressure (or perhaps to mean what they say, not sure which it was).  Don’t know why, but it is the case.

And, sadly, it has consequences for good people.

Some folks are trying to fix this by saying “look at all the good things Obama and this Congress have done” or “really, the Health Care bill is still better than nothing”, but the hard core progressives, who are a significant chunk the people who give, who volunteer and who are willing to be massively enthusiastic, well, they aren’t buying it.  They were promised better on any number of issues (bank reform, healthcare, gay rights, abortion, etc…) and having been repeatedly betrayed (as they see it, and I agree) they find it hard to care.

So, honestly, if people want the progressive money and enthusiasm machine revved back up, I suggest they find a way to get some high profile wins, or they go down really visibly swinging on some issue in a way that doesn’t look like Kabuki.

A pity, as I say, but there it is.  Failure to come through on promises made makes people not trust future promises, even by new candidates.

Some might say that this is rational, others might say that it constitutes giving up and as such is the wrong thing to do.

But if progressive candidates—if progressive politicians in DC or who want to go to DC, want money and volunteer time and enthusiasm it’s really up to them to do something which makes netroots progressives believe in them again.


What is Obama?


Greek Mistakes, European Misery and the Coming Decade of Suck


  1. CEO

    What Ian said. I gave small amounts to some of those people, and man am I pissed.

  2. Pepe

    It seems virtually no one in DC on the Progressive side can be trusted to stand up to heavy pressure (or perhaps to mean what they say, not sure which it was).

    A little from column A; a little from column B.

    But yeah, I have absolutely no trust for any Dem (not that there should be trust) but the Ds in Congress will in no way oppose the White House (unless their popularity tanks), and the WH is part of the problem. Very depressing.

  3. beowulf

    Nothing changes until campaign finance changes (and that’s certainly no cure-all).

    Anytime a Republican says or does something half-way intelligent, they should be recognized. Frankly most DC Democrats are too dumb to move left unless the Republicans beat them to it. I just came across this interview with Darrell Issa from February. In a single interview, he endorsed an employer (NOT employee) insurance mandate, a living wage, health coverage as part of unemployment insurance, a Nixon/Clinton national exchange and is open to a public option trigger. That’s more progressive than half of the Democratic Senate caucus.

    Its a start I guess, and Issa should be commended for it. Though I suppose we won’t get a single payer system here until more Republican elected officials start talking like this one.
    When Nixon went to China, reversing U.S. policy and decades-long GOP doctrines, it proved to be his greatest foreign policy success.
    It is good for the country and the GOP for that party to change course and accept a greater role for government in health insurance, just as the conservatives eventually did in Britain.
    Specifically, the GOP should endorse Medicare for all, which will be the inevitable cost-control solution after all other strategies fail.

  4. Mad Hemingway

    When the leader of the party isn’t credible why should anyone turn out for the party.

    Obama received the most money from BP, Exxon, Chevron, GS, and the healthcare industry. Not exactly what people were thinking when he claims to be the healthcare president.

  5. DupinTM

    I have a bad feeling that, given what the Dems have done in re: all the major issues like healthcare, financial regulation and immigration, they think that doing some pissant thing like signing off on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will automatically activate their base. Not to say gay rights aren’t important – especially in regards to how we treat everyone in our society, as you’ve talked about at length – but in how these Bob Shrum types seem to think about politics.

    They all live in elections past, so they must figure, well, if gay marriage worked in 2004, gay rights will work for us in 2010! Or maybe some half-assed attempt at immigration reform that is the Arizona law minus maybe 20%. With the White House actively whipping against any financial reform worth a damn, one has to wonder what their October Surprise-Enthusiasm-Fill could be. Donors matter more than reality.

    It’s especially weird b/c it was Rahm Emanuel – chief of the advisors us peasants are supposed to hate rather than Obama – who got all those Blue Dogs you mentioned into power in the first place, and it’s them who are up on the chopping block. As you said way before, they managed to whip them into place for healthcare (for the wrong reasons), is the WH angry at them, or just unwilling to change their epistemology (to borrow a trussed-up conservative euphemism)? I hoped this oil spill would get them moving on a real ‘deregulation is bad’ push, but my hope failed me again.

  6. DupinTM:

    Regarding the “chopping block” — as soon as one reconceptualizes elective office as an unpaid internship for a real job on K Street, much else will fall into place.

    Regarding betrayal: I retain my admiration for this classic post by Chris Bowers on HCR:

    I feel sad that it came at the cost of throwing reproductive rights under the bus. Any win that means hurting some of your friends is not a full win.

    Feelings. Yes, well, indeed, indeed.

  7. People might find this chart interesting.

    As far as I’m concerned, the two legacy parties prop each other up (“Socialism!” “Look! Over there! Sarah Palin!”). I think when one collapses, the other will collapse. It’s immaterial to me which one collapses first. I only hope the collapse comes sooner rather than later.

  8. Douglas McElroy

    This is spot on, Ian. It certainly describes me. There was a massive effort to repudiate conservatism by electing large Democratic majorities (and a president), but what we have got in return is just tinkering at the edges, which is totally insufficient. Whether it is because of cowardice, greed or incompetence on the part of Dems is beside the point. I’m not sure that the democratic process in America is capable of delivering the sorts of changes that need to happen – it’s just too slow a process. Whether violence erupts due to the lack of change, or as an effort to spur reform, I don’t know, but reading Howard Zinn made it clear that the only time power has ever ceded anything in America is when it was truly threatened. As you have said many times, we only have the rights we are willing to die for.

    Up to about 5 or 6 months ago, I was still really invested emotionally. I went through a few cycles of real despair over everything that was going on. Then I read one of your articles in which you concluded that (I’m paraphrasing) ‘if America can’t enact real change with solid majorities, but still jumps to the tune of a radical minority, then it may be ungovernable’ (I think you were being polite with the ‘may’). Two things from this:

    1) America IS ungovernable, in any meaningful way, I am now convinced of that. We are just going to have to go through a series of devastating crises and disasters to get anything done. That means that (optimistically) even if we address the crises well, it still won’t spare the people whose lives are ruined or ended in the crisis itself, but prevention is an Un-American idea.
    2) It was incredibly liberating to realize this – this greatly lessens any sense of responsibility that comes from the illusion of feeling like I have any real agency in terms of addressing these things. ‘Til now I felt a huge responsibility, as a responsible citizen, to try to do something. The gap between that sense of responsibility and any progress was causing massive distress.

    We won’t (try to) address global warming until communities/states/nations have been devastated by rising sea level.
    We won’t address the financial capture of our country until we go through a worse economic crisis (a true out-and-out depression).
    We won’t address environmental/industrial policy until there is a huge eco-disaster (hello, BP, thanks for queuing that up a bit sooner than expected).
    We won’t fix health care until another generation has been bankrupted/killed by the health care industry.
    We won’t address our civil liberties issue until a bunch of white people have been ‘inconvenienced’ by the security-state.
    We won’t address political reform until after all of the above has demonstrated the complete failure of our system.

    That’s a pretty daunting list (hardly comprehensive) and it’s not clear that the solutions will be peaceful.

    (As an aside, this also has given me a strange insight into Bush’s strangely persistent support by reasonable conservatives. Take civil liberties – I was just outraged by what was going on under Bush. Obama hasn’t significantly altered these policies, and in some cases may have worsened them. My response is a deflated, ‘Well, crap!’ What am I supposed to do? Vote Republican?)

    Ultimately my feeling is this: Any significant change in America is going to carry a big butcher’s bill, in some cases literally. People are going to have to suffer, a lot, before there will be change. Until then, we are all just along for the ride.

  9. Douglas McElroy — Make sure get to know your neighbors, because that’s the only thing that is sure to smooth the ride. Work at the national level may slightly mitigate, but… Read Collapse.

  10. hidflect

    Obama feasted on the blood from the last pool of naiive voters that could be found huddled together in the then-undiscovered, virtual corner of earth and he drank them dry. Yes, he did. What a creature of the night he turned out to be.

  11. DupinTM

    Well said, lambert. But I know some local/state politicians, they’re good people who try hard to do right. Is the national level that cynical? I say that knowing full well the Blue Dog mentality, as well as the penchant the Dems have for putting them on that committee that regulates finance – for the big money that ‘keeps them safe’.

    I mean, c’mon, does everyone who Matters get their news from idiots, and so thinks no one’s keeping watch on the Watchmen? I know, stupid question, given everything that’s going on and the fawning coverage of the WH correspondent’s dinner, but… damn. The oil explosion has to have woken someone up other than Ted Kaufman.

  12. I know a few good state/local politicians, too, but at the national level? Ian’s right: The spectacle of Dennis Kucinich prancing about whipping for the very HCR bill he’d opposed on principle until the day before is dispositive.

  13. DupinTM

    True, at least Bernie Sanders got that $10 billion (I think, maybe 15) for health centers. Of course, as Ian or someone pointed out, that was like .1% of the total money (paid for I know) being doled out, so maybe that’s not something to brag too much about.

    Hell, Warren Buffett doesn’t seem to give a damn anymore about what gets leaked out to the papes, b/c he knows that the typicals (and Barbara Boxer, which in a small way links this back to the original post) will still hail him as a super liberal commie-facist John Galt.

  14. votermom

    Policy positions of candidates on any party are worthless unless the wholesale corruption can be addressed.

  15. anonymous

    It seems virtually no one in DC on the Progressive side can be trusted to stand up to heavy pressure (or perhaps to mean what they say, not sure which it was). Don’t know why, but it is the case.

    In their vote on the insurance reform bill, it is apparently the case that they will vote based on political considerations over policy considerations. Certainly in Kucinich’s case he loudly stated that he disagreed with the policy that the bill represented, but voted for the bill (and even “whipped” for it) because of political considerations.

    What was the policy consideration that they voted against? Providing affordable insurance for the median and below-median household and reversing the trend of the cost of that insurance consuming an ever larger share of the GDP. All members of congress, their staffs, all members of the executive and judicial branches and their staffs have health insurance. Members of congress are in no danger of losing that insurance.

    Congressman Pete Stark was on the radio several months ago discussing the insurance reform bill. During the discussion, he brought up how much his insurance cost him: $500 per month. He said that the government (“thank you, taxpayers”) paid three-fourths of his monthly premium, or $1,500 per month. So, his family’s policy is costing $2,000 per month or $24,000 per year. This is completely beyond the ability of the median household income, approximately $50,000 per year, to pay, to say nothing of the half of the households that make less than the median income.

    Congress people have insurance, their friends and family have insurance. Neither the insurance premiums nor an absence of insurance or medical care is something they have to worry about. If the opposite were true, namely, if they had no insurance or if they were worried about losing their insurance, then the policy consideration would have meant something to them. That their constituents had those concerns was and is only a matter of abstract sympathy for them. If Dennis K. had a sick child or mother who was being denied care and congresspeople had no subsidized health care, political considerations would not have overcome policy considerations. Notice that one of the significant reforms that was in the bill was the “No Pre-existing Conditions” reform that lead to policies being cancelled. This reform was in there because the testimony about it before the Congress opened their eyes to the fact that they, and not just their constituents (cue crocodile tears), could lose their insurance.

    Moreover, they have friends and family in the insurance industry, the drug industry, the medical equipment maker industry, the hospital administration industry, and who are medical practitioners. This is their socioeconomic class. A policy that reduced how much was paid to these people by a third or more would have hurt their family and friends’ “careers”. Ever so conveniently for them, they have come to believe that just as it once was that “what is good for GM is good for America”, now what is good for their socioeconomic class is good for America.

    More evidence?

    – The TARP vote in Oct, 2008: their class was in danger, so not only did they act to pass a bill in a short two weeks, they even acted against the overwhelming will of the population. And the bill was defeated? Normally, when a bill is defeated, we are told “That’s it, folks. We tried. Maybe we can take it up again in the next session of Congress. Maybe. You never know. Keep hope alive. Vote for me.” In the TARP case, their class was threatened, and so the bill was modified and re-voted in five days. Who doubts that had it still not passed, it would have been modified again until enough votes were found.

    – The drug re-importation amendment of the insurance reform bill was held off the floor of the senate for seven days until Reid could change enough votes to defeat it. This amendment would have meant a massive loss (Dean Baker has estimated it at around $300 billion per year) to the drug industry. Think of what that would have done to their class. horrors.

    – The funding for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan is not ended, despite overwhelming majorities in the House & Senate being installed over two elections where ending the occupations was one of the principle campaign debates. This could lead to weapons makers, mercenary contractors, and even the military losing funding. Many “careers” and much profit would be lost.

    – The stimulus package was resisted and reduced because, unlike the bush/cheney packages, it did not contain sufficient transfer of wealth to this class. Moreover, it contained sops for some “green” initiatives, which does not help the fossil fuel industry, who employ or profit the class.

    – Nothing has been done to stop the Fed. Res/Treasury “extra-constitutional” spending to help banks. This spending has been in the trillions of dollars.

  16. anonymous

    Read Collapse.

    For those who may not know the reference, I’m guessing that Lambert Strether is referring to Jared Diamond’s book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

    Here is the wikipedia entry on Jared Diamond:

    And here is the entry on the book:

    In particular, from the section titled “Similar Theories”, there is this:

    However, where Toynbee argues that the root cause of collapse is the decay of a society’s “creative minority” into “a position of inherited privilege which it has ceased to merit”, Diamond ascribes more weight to conscious minimization of environmental factors. In either case it describes the impasse as a cognitive problem, societies which excel in problem solving having mental fixations that prevent their later problems from being recognized.

    From another angle, U.S. historian Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988) argues that observable causes of collapse such as environmental degradation ultimately result from diminishing returns on investments in energy, education and technological innovation.

    There is also this essay from The New Yorker:

    I don’t have a source, but I have read that Diamond has argued that one of the factors that leads to a societal collapse is when the rulers of a society insulate themselves from the consequences of their decisions. There are many examples of this occurring in the recent past in the U.S.

  17. It’s a reaction to defeat. I think it’s unfair to the House Democratic progressives to hold them to task for failing. They lost, that’s all, and would only compound the loss by making a last stand. When the big vote is over, they still have to caucus with the Democrats.

    I’ve been writing about this all along &, rather than cite a whole bunch of stuff I’ll leave you with a few of my remarks:

    To survive, I think the Democrats will have to rebuild their activist base from moderate conservatives, and I do not see how that can be done in six months.

    Personally, I do not have the heart to work for a conservative party, though I have and will vote Democratic until a plausible liberal opposition comes along.

  18. I think I will reprint some of my stuff after all:

    Personally, I haven’t had the heart to fight for the Democrats since it became clear to me, long before Obama became president, how strong and destructive their conservative faction is. It’s not that I’m wanting to “knee-cap” them or any such thing. It’s just not there. On Loyalty to the Democratic Party

    It appears that the Democratic Party has for a long time, existed as a coalition between liberal and conservative wings (or, if you like, progressive and corporatist wings.) Since Reagan, policy on major issues—war and peace, banking, and so on—has been dominated by the conservatives, while less pressing issues (science, environmental policy, and so on) and public relations have been dominated by the liberals. In the Congress, the Senate Democratic caucus has been dominated by the conservatives while multiple House Democratic caucuses exist, with the House Democrats predominantly but not entirely liberal. The public face of the Democratic Party has been liberal, since the public is to the left of the conservatives.Analysis

    I decided years ago that I would vote for the less crazy candidates which have a chance to win, and for a long time those have been the Democratic candidates. But I did not have the heart to work for the conservative Obama, and I do not have the heart to work for a conservative party. This is not the Democratic party of our youth: all the great liberal Democratic Senators of that time are gone and the Democrats are dominated by their conservatives. To a Friend, on Supporting Democrats and Not

  19. anonymous

    I think it’s unfair to the House Democratic progressives to hold them to task for failing. They lost, that’s all, and would only compound the loss by making a last stand.

    They did not lose. To lose, they would have had to vote against the bill and had it defeated by a majority vote. At best, you can describe what they did as “surrendering.” At worst, you can argue that they did not surrender — they did what they intended all along, after putting on a long show.

    Had they voted against the bill and held their vote contingent upon a public option, presented as an amendment, then they would have:

    – not “compounded the loss by making a last stand”, but presented the voters with a choice
    – taken a public stand that was supported by the majority of the population
    – given expression to that majority’s will in government
    – possibly lost a vote on a bill that would then have been defeated
    – been attacked with every rhetorical device in the obama-ites arsenal (“Purist!” “Naderite!” “Loser!”)
    – left in place the intense political pressure to do something about the how and under what conditions medical care is paid for
    – put fear into the status quo that the progressives had to be taken into account
    – established a base of office holders that could have been built upon in future elections
    – possibly won a vote on a future bill as the election neared

    I was surprised at their vote because of their public stance saying they wouldn’t vote the way they would. That was my mistake. They voted consistent with their previous votes:

    – not to end funding for the military occupations
    – not to put into the stimulus bill funding for reorienting the u.s. economy

    Number of votes Obama has in the House of Representatives: Zero
    Number of votes lobbyists have in the House of Representatives: Zero
    Number of spending bills that the Constitution specifies must originate in the House of Reps.: ALL of them

  20. nihil obstet

    Well, Raven, I can’t agree when you say, I think it’s unfair to the House Democratic progressives to hold them to task for failing. They lost, that’s all, and would only compound the loss by making a last stand. Their “last stand” would have heartened their base to their principles. Saving themselves from a last stand against the pro-insurance-company representatives condemned them and their party to abandonment by the most active voters. “Well, they’ve gotta vote Washington politics instead of citizen interests” is what slays enthusiasm. Unless you’re the sort who gets enthusiastic about “Vote for me, I’m so ineffectual that my vote in Congress doesn’t matter.”

  21. This sums up how I’ve been feeling all year very well. I’m completely dispirited by having our country governed by people willing to ignore near-apocalyptic crises as they loom on our very doorstep, threats to the survival of the party, the nation, the very concept of western democracy, in some cases the species, all in favor of short term gain for their own bank accounts. Disgusting.

    Real health care reform was vital to save America; it failed, and costs will cripple us completely in a few short years. Immigration reform is vital to the future of the Dem party, so it got ditched effortlessly; climate change has zero chance of being meaningfully addressed even though the costs grow astronomically with each year of inaction. Meanwhile, the wars grind on and on and on, accomplishing less than nothing at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives.

    So yeah. After being betrayed on the war funding, health care, banking reform, bailouts, climate change, immigration policy, gay rights, church-state separation, environmental and energy policy and a host of other things I’m surely forgetting, I have no enthusiasm for anyone who calls themselves a Democrat. It’s called pattern recognition.

  22. Bernard

    the political morass that is America is the result of the best laid plans by the Republicans’ effective and determined efforts to destroy America in return for the mantle of power. the use of the “us vs. them” first by Lee Atwater and then Rove has given the Republican party a veto power on America. The Democrats refuse to stand up the Republicans cause they feed at the same trough. The D’s have had many chances to stand apart, which they have chosen not to do. the 97% re-election rate of all incumbents has showed how little it takes to amass power and keep it forever. David Obey is a good example of this, as was shown yesterday or so in the “news.”

    the fall of the American Republic into the American Congressional Industrial Military Complex as forewarned by Eisenhower is where we are and what we are. where we end us is predictable as all empires eventually fail.

    what saddens me most is the absence of any moral fiber or accountability of anyone since I found out about Watergate, except for the “failed presidency of Jimmy Carter.” what continues to frighten me is the zeal of the lunatics of the Right, in particular, by the adoption of the Religious Right. The destruction of liberty and spirituality in the name of the Chosen God is no different from the lunatics who run Iran. the only difference is their God is called Allah. NO ONE dares to question the ability of the Right to shove their version of GOD down everyone else’s throat. i am so tired of being told it’s their God or none at all. Khomeini and Goebbels are these fanatics co-horts in crime. and IT IS a Crime!

    Obviously the money, rent seeking behavior of the elite has been successfully incorporated/incalculated into the American way of thievery. Of course, my version of Satan is St. Ronnie, the standard bearer for the destruction of the American Republic. i am quite biased of course. I have never seen such an outright symbol of EVIL, which the Corporatist Obama paid homage to in his victory speech in November after being elected. A foretaste of the future America was doomed to be visited by.

    as long as the ignorant masses are spoon fed by the propaganda machine from the Right, and endorsed by the Democrats, America will be easy picking by the Banksters, Democrats, Republican, et. al, all brandishing the lies St. Ronnie spewed out.

    i certainly never thought growing up in the ’60’s, America would turn into the American version of the Weimar Republic. i was mistaken to think American were thinking people. lol. how sickening it is to see the truth. such weasels that prefer not to think.

    after the incredulous Bush experience that destroyed the fabric of the remaining promise of America, i don’t know what to say, but i wish i could leave America. As i am not rich and have to work till i dielol,symbolized by the theft that Goldman Sach/Greenspan embody, i hope the crash comes very quickly. i will lose everything i have worked for in my entire life, but i am aghast at what America has become.

    the crash of American power holds at least a promise of a new day, which is better than to watch what has happened to the America i grew up in and celebrated in pre Nixon watershed days. maybe i am looking back at good times that never occurred, but i can’t imagine how anything like what is America today would be preferable to promise of the tumultuous 60’s. Even with Kent State, Jackson State, Chicago, the Weathermen and all the rest, i still saw America as growing towards justice and equality for more rather than the outright destruction of the Constitution and enslavement of the American people.

    the abdication of any and all accountability i think began with Ford’s pardon of Nixon. evil must be held accountable or what you get is what American is today. a Zombie nation being perpetually sucked dry of any promise or future.

    i hope the children and young people soon decide to do something. obviously the people today prefer the American Idiot fantasy sold to them by the Republican Corporatist Obama. It is so sad, so incredibly upsetting.

    Are there any heroes left in America? or any hope left? i think not.

  23. anonymous

    the fall of the American Republic into the American Congressional Industrial Military Complex as forewarned by Eisenhower is where we are and what we are.

    If only we had only that to contend with.

    If Eisenhower were here today, he might have a stroke in five minutes. Now, in addition to the MIC complex, we have the FIRE sector (finance’s share of corporate profits went from around 8% in 1980 to around 40% in 2007), we have industrial agriculture, we have the drug company/insurance company/medical equipment/hospital company complex, we have the telecommunication monopolies, the media companies, and the fossil-fuel industries, all of whom lobby congress to prevent change.

  24. anonymous

    So, honestly, if people want the progressive money and enthusiasm machine revved back up, I suggest they find a way to get some high profile wins, or they go down really visibly swinging on some issue in a way that doesn’t look like Kabuki.

    I wonder if there are any high profile issues that the Democratic party wants to win, at least in a way that progressives or the left would want.

    1) Not financial reform. True reform would hurt members of their class and stop some of the wealth being transferred to them. Dean Baker recently listed three elements of financial reform that need to be present for it to be worthwhile:

    – Limit the size of banks, breaking up the largest ones into banks small enough to no longer present a systemic risk
    – Get banks out of derivative trading
    – Separate banks into commercial deposit takers/loan makers and investment banks (that would not be insured)

    2) Not “climate change” legislation. No bill that is unacceptable to the fossil fuel industries will be presented and voted on. Again, this would hurt members of Obama’s class.

    3) Not the supreme court nomination. Obama is not going to nominate the successor to William Brennan. Instead, I expect that he’ll pull his now-classic “Pre-Compromise”, and nominate someone that he can say he had to nominate to get him or her past the Senate.
    This will not be someone that progressives/left will be enthusiastic about.

    Immigration reform, gay marriage, don’t-ask,don’t-tell? On which of these issues do the Democrats want a progressive/left outcome? Which of them do they think will effect election outcomes?

  25. Plenty of room under the bus!

  26. They did not lose. … At best, you can describe what they did as “surrendering.”

    Surrendering is what you do when you’re in losing circumstances. Were they, in fact, in losing circumstances? Maybe historians of a generation or two from now will be better able to judge. But we know less about it than they do–they were there.

    Their “last stand” would have heartened their base to their principles.

    They’d still have lost. The base would have ended up disheartened, either way.

    I just don’t buy into valiant last stands–they make for good stories, but they are usually poor strategy and tactics. The only reason to make a last stand is if there’s good reason to believe it will make some difference in the future.

    On the other hand…food for corvids!

  27. anonymous

    In order to lose, they have to vote for something and then have the majority take an opposing position. They voted with the majority. They did not lose.

    Voting for something and losing (which, again, they did not do) is worth doing for the many reasons I listed above. It is not about “making a valiant last stand.”

    If for no other reason, representatives need to vote for the positions that they run for elective office on because otherwise there is no functioning representative democracy. If the will of the people cannot be expressed through their representatives, then the government ceases to be legitimate.

    U.S. Declaration of Independence: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…”

    Is it bad for their “career”? That is neither here nor there. We’re adults running a country, not a career counseling center.

  28. Thermopylae.

    Just saying. Of course, those were different times, and the Greeks were in truly desperate circumstances….

  29. DancingOpossum

    Yup, I’ve given up on both parties entirely and don’t trust a single one at the national level. Locally, there are still some decent folks trying to do the right thing who I’ll continue to support (for instance, it would be a disaster for my state if the Repug beat our incumbent Dem governor — which we know, because we elected the Repug assclown once before and then threw him out after one term), but on the national level, no, nothing. Not one thin dime. Not one ounce of support. Not one vote.

    I don’t care if this hurts otherwise good people, they shouldn’t have tied their fortunes to this dying, bloated, rotting corpse of a party. I mean look at your so-called liberal lions: Grayson, Feingold, Kucinich, all the backstabbing big-talkers that made pwoggies and Act Blue types get all weepy and wet — and then did NOTHING, or worse.

    Truly, I feel like someone waking out of a long enchantment. Every good thought and feeling and sense of hope (ha) that I had for the Dem party, while still recognizing its flaws and still knowing the limits of human frailty, still, yes, still believing that there was a chance for real change. All of that has been replaced by rage.

    I also don’t care if the Dem party falls before the Repug. As lambert says, if one goes the other goes, and it can’t happen soon enough for my tastes.

  30. b.

    I see the deadlock to be between those that believe that any attempt to change the system has to go through the Democrit Party, and those that have ceased to believe that this will work. There is no momentum, as a majority of either side is convinced a Third Party is not viable.

    The split largely matches another chism, which is between those that believe the Democrit Party is essentially “good”, just weak and flawed (the Bush Incompetency Dodge re-used), and those that believe that the Democrit Party is a fully functional, essential part of the system through which the ‘stablishment elites bind us all.

    Just like societies, by and large, cannot be reformed by any event short of collapse, so political organizations cannot be reformed in any meaningful way.

    There will be no changer without anger. But the only elements of US society that have shown any willingness to exhibit anger have shown absolutely no ability to attempt to understand the crisis, let alone succeed at understanding it. Tea Parties are the end, not the beginning, on the other end of the spectrum of the disaffected.

    The reason that the “progressive movement” feels ineffectual is because it is. The reason it is ineffectual is because it is no movement, it is an adjunct of “our party”. The relationship between a real movement – any real movement – and its tools – parties, representatives – is antagonistic. You can find the seeds in organizations like the ACLU, which are grounded in principles, and act in the courts, not through elected representatives. It is not the purpose of an organization like MoveOn to support a specific candidate, its purpose is to review, criticize, and if necessary attempt to destroy a given candidacy. Corruption, as it is, is inevitable, but it does not have to be codified in bylaws in charters – the opposite is required.

    No matter what your actual or claimed political objectives (see the NRA), to survive with some claim to independence any movement has to be organized aroundsome or all of the same principles to stay “electorally stable”:

    a) no re-election for incumbent frauds, deadbeats, and those who could not deliver, *even* if that means somebody worse from “the other side” gets elected
    b) no money ro time donated to candidates, all money and time expended on awareness and support of the cause
    c) no deals, no compromises, no negotiations, no communications with candidates, representatives, parties, no lobbying. all contact is through publication and public statement
    d) full transparency and disclosure on financing, expenditures, contact attempts
    e) no revolving door – anybody who has played on the other side of the fence is barred from executive and oversight positions within the organizations, “converts” can only work for the cause, not define it

    On a personal level: no time or money donated to an organziation – any organization – that violates the above – such as NARAL, MoveOn etc. Obviously, political campaigns violate the principles by design.

    If everybody who has given to Obama in the hopes of seeing torture, detention, secrecy, executive crimes resolved had given to the ACLU instead of Obama, it would have been the ACLU, not whatever candidate or president succeeded without that public support, who would rent the megaphone to define the torture debate. It might not have changed anything for the better in this term, or the next, but if the American People can be moved by decency and reason at all – a big if at that – eventually fighting for a cause instead of looking for “progressive heroes” will make a difference.

    If the movement, and the voting public at large, cannot even muster the anger, will and determination to simply make sure the career of every single incumbent in the current congress is ended, no matter the consequence, then nothing will change. To ponder “necessary” changes to the voting process and calculus, party organization and campaign financing is ridiculous given that you need these changes to elect the representatives that would implement these changes. If you are serious about abandoning the electoral college for proportional elections or reforming the Senate, find or found the equivalent of the ACLU, and make sure it sticks to the cause, and stays the hell away from its natural enemies.

  31. zot23

    I think you said this Ian and it rings true on this issue, “Good policies becoming good laws = good results.”

    You have to give your base a reason to turn out and independents will vote on the results. If they feel financial relief from the health care bill, they know it and will credit the administration. If it is as bad as it was before, they know that too and will blame those in power.

    Dems own both houses and the WH, there is really no excuse for not delivering at least something close to the promises. DADT should be a slam dunk, as well as increased transparency in the FED. They have no (good) excuses here IMHO and if they lose, they lose due to their lack of action.

  32. About the only people I am likely to support this year are challengers. I’m unlikely to even vote for my Democratic representative and Senator this year, and have no reason to support any incumbent. They’ve betrayed us. Let the people to whom they sold out pay their bills.

    Yes, it’s been hard to work up any enthusiasm. The bait and switch performed by the Senate on the audit the Fed amendment yesterday is an example of why – you spend time persuading your lawmakers to support a bill, and then they just switch what it is at the last minute. Someone once said that you can’t trust liars. 😉 These guys are liars. They don’t seem to be able to stop themselves.

  33. anonymous

    The bait and switch performed by the Senate on the audit the Fed amendment yesterday is an example of why – you spend time persuading your lawmakers to support a bill, and then they just switch what it is at the last minute.

    and their voting down by 60+ votes of the kaufman-brown amendment, which would have broken up the TBTF banks, shows that they are millionaires who are going to support their class. so, you’re not going to vote for them? “who cares what you think?”

  34. anonymous

    Dems own both houses and the WH, there is really no excuse for not delivering at least something close to the promises. DADT should be a slam dunk, as well as increased transparency in the FED. They have no (good) excuses here IMHO and if they lose, they lose due to their lack of action.

    DADT might happen because it does not effect Obama’s socioeconomic class.

    There’s a possibility that a one-time-only, partial audit of some of the fed’s transactions will get signed into law (that’s the balloon that’s being floated this week), although they will try to water it down even more. Because there is so much pressure on the “hate the bankers” front, they need to relieve some of that pressure, just as they had to “do something” in their insurance “reform” bill. They want something that they can use to fool voters who aren’t paying much attention and who don’t want to know the details.

    They won’t be “losing.” They are not going to allow any legislation that holds the Fed accountable or that reveals financial fraud. If necessary, obama would veto such a bill and let us all eat adjectives and adverbs (he’ll make excuses). But I don’t expect it will come to that because he’s not going to let any such bill get a majority vote and put him in the embarrassing position of having to veto it.

  35. The opportunity cost of devotion to either legacy party is the construction of anything new that will actually work on our behalf.

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