Couple leftover links, because they are well worth quoting. Tim Heffernan at Esquire explains why “Lee Atwater Wins Again”:
There’s a scene in Boogie Man, the terrific Lee Atwater documentary, where Robert Novak says that the difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats truly believe in governing, and Republicans just want power. Two things to say about this. One, he’s right… And two, that this distinction encapsulates perfectly the political dynamic that has ruled elections for the past two decades and is about to result in yet another Republican wave.
This is not new and it’s not an accident. Lee Atwater realized that it’s the message, not the actions, that Americans vote for — and so finding the winning message is all that matters…
And “The Editors” at Esquire discuss “The People to Whom We Are About to Hand Over the Reins“:
… There’s something admirable about them. They come to the meetings when nobody else does. They listen. They take notes. They are involved in the civic life of their communities. They are also monomaniacal. Every point they make is conclusive. Every argument they make is definitive. No event is singular. One thing — always, inevitably — leads to another. They are not conspiracy theorists, per se – although some of them are – but simply people who have lost faith in coincidence. Every act is a deliberate act connected to another deliberate act, connected to another one, back through the decades. Sometimes, they’re even right, which is always a good thing. More often, they make the meetings longer and more pointless, and everybody starts sweating and cursing under their breath… They sail blithely on, smiling their secret smiles, and they will be back next week. And the week after that…
If all the polls are correct, and if Chuck Todd is right to have turned up the Orgasmatron to eleven in his happy place, then we are all going to be complicit in a massive exercise in empowered heckling, a national free-for-all over the one microphone in the hall. It has been a remarkable two years for that sort of thing, and that’s where Jon Stewart went off the rails the other day, when he traded sense for sensibility. The problem is not that we don’t play nice enough with each other. The problem is that one side plays by its own rules in a universe of its own devising, with its own physical laws, its unique economics, and its own history and theology, and that universe is now devouring the real one.
For the moment, I am going to go work in my own garden. This is not a metaphor; we finally got a killing frost Sunday night, the tomato planters need to be cleaned out, and the oak leaves from the neighbors’ yards are piling up. Oh, and I actually have a potato harvest! — nothing record-breaking, but at least I haven’t shamed the lingering ghosts of my Galway ancestors…
“The People to Whom We Are About to Hand Over the Reins”
“The people to whom we are about to turn over the raisins”, would have been a better title. Cuz it’s just a dried-up dead-fly-looking husk of a former grape, gettit?
So they’ve gone one step further then the Soviets who used to invent their own reality as a matter of course. Difference is the teabaggers actually believe it.
Are “The Editors” Charlie Pierce, do you think?
Agreed, the rally was for Sanity, and Stewart ended the Rally with a plea for Civility. It was about the need for us not to express sanity, but to watch our tone. I found it insulting and off-base. I’m pretty much in the PZ Myers camp of hating wussy opposition:
I realize it’s cold comfort at this moment, but the Republican way of politics has left the GOP in awful shape. The Dems just suffered one of the worst electoral defeats in a century…and they’re still in better condition than Republicans were coming into this election.
This doesn’t really seem right to me. I think it’s more like this–
The people we’ve handed the keys over to just aren’t interested in governing or making things better.
Apropos of absolutely nothing, that is a lovely turn of phrase.
This. Fucking dear FSM, this.
I, too, found the whole Stewart/Colbert thing an insult. Civility? Seriously? And he’s directing this to the left of center? Fuck that shit. It’s about time to drop the goddam civility. The only goddam thing that the FDLers and their ilk get right is that it’s about time we start calling this shit out. I’ll be happy to be civil when the other side discovers that particular way of acting. Until then, fuck them and fuck Stewart and his mealy mouthed bullshit.
some other guy
Stewart wasn’t saying don’t fight, he was saying you don’t need to be raging fucking asshole to do it. Though I can understand why PZ “im in ur church desecratin ur eucharist lolz” Myers might not be able to tell the difference.
Slate link (sorry), but a good and funny article on the SC takedown of the California ban on violent video games.
Esquire is right on target. I have sat as a Council Member and listened to the sort of people the article describes. And they really do come back week after week and repeat the same stuff. For the most part we just ignored them and felt a little sorry for them. Unfortunately, they are the sort of people you never ever want to hand over power to and we just did it in the last election.
I think the “C” states (CA, CT, CO) have been pretty awesome this cycle, all thing considered.
@some other guy:
Yeah, you only need to be a raging fucking asshole if you want to win.
@some other guy: Well, I don’t think people are thinking through to the end game on this one.
So, okay, we adopt the rules of the right. We yell louder. We speak in absolutes. We divide and demonize. Then what? We win? When has screaming louder ever won people to your viewpoint? Sure, it keeps the people more firmly on your team, but it also keeps the people off your team more firmly off your team. I don’t see that it achieves anything except feeling better that you’re actually screaming back.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, better than working under the sun in the dirt, whether waking a garden up or putting it to sleep for the year.
(Messing about in boats is close, but not in the cold of November.)
This ain’t original, given a couple of the comments above, but it’s got to be said: Man, fuck civility.
You know who pushes “civility”? People who don’t have to fight.
You know whom *our* not fighting helps?
Clue: it ain’t *us*.
Davis X. Machina
@geg6: My lingering complaint with Jon Stewart is not the false-equivalency shibboleth, but that too often it is clear he still believes it’s all a shuck, a con, a bright shiny object to dangle in front of the rubes. That we — him and I, the fake ‘us’ of television, the only two smart guys at the stupid meeting or pointless in-service — are too cool for school, but we mustn’t let on.
Sometimes irony is more of a threat to a republic than tyranny…
@MTiffany: But what are they winning? They’ve been screaming about rolling back entitlement programs for 70 years. They’ve not only failed to do that, there are now more and larger entitlement programs than ever before. They’ve lost every civil rights battle.
Sure, they win elections, but they lose policy. Every. Single. Time.
Keep an eye out for rogue cable guys digging under your garden, claiming a need to install HBO for the carrots and tubers….
Well, it is and it isn’t. The Republican leadership wants to win more than it wants to govern. And the current crop of Republican Congresscritters want to do god only knows what. But that doesn’t mean every Republican is a deranged lunatic.
We really do need a sane and reasonable middle ground. Not because Democrats are too far to the left, but because Republicans and many Independents simply won’t vote for the dreaded (D). The moderates need to re-brand. Sensibility shouldn’t be a partisan affair.
And while I agree Stewart was out of line when he played the “both sides do it” card, I also think he’s gotten just as sick of partisanship as everyone else. So he’s trying to play the non-partisan game and forge a consensus that isn’t pre-qualified by “Are you a registered Democrat/Republican?” It’s a noble endeavor and one I’ll keep rooting for.
Ultimately, I think the only thing that is going to save the nation as a whole is the reformation of the Republican Party. That’s the 800 lb Elephant in the room no one will even try to address.
Open letter to all of you folks:
You did good. You worked really, really hard. You cooperated. You coordinated. You donated money, time, and energy. you went the extra mile. You did nothing wrong. You carried GOTV to its peak.
I am proud of you.
Well, structural observations:
a. Economy in the toilet
b. What’s needed to make it better can’t get through the Senate because of the 60 vote requirement.
c. People vote on economy, and blame the President’s party.
d. The majority of Americans view themselves as ‘conservative’ (even though they also support many liberal policies. A ‘center-right’ nation in the self-conception, if not the actual policies)
e. Right Wing Noise machine supported by:
f. Corporate Overlords
g. Politics is a zero-sum game.
Because people don’t pay attention and just ‘vote for the other guy’, when they don’t like their current guy, given all the factors above, the game is rigged against Democrats, and definitely progressives.
And Republicans get to live accountability-free, because of the above factors. And then grease the wheels to living on K street.
The one time that Republicans controlled every organ of the Federal government, their policies were shown to be self-evidently destructive. Thus the 2006, 2008 wave elections.
Now we are reverted back to form. Because Obama and the Senate are still in democratic hands, Republicans can still blame the President, and be accountability free.
And then of course, with the 21 Dem to 12 Republican Senators coming up for election in 2012, it’s a good bet the Democrats lose the Senate in 2012.
Clinton was elected when the economy was recovering.
May not be the case when Obama comes up in 2012.
So a good chance of the Carterization of Obama, who in my opinion has executed extremely well, given the structural bottlenecks he has had to deal with.
Annie, What’s a ‘frost’?
@some other guy:
WRT being an asshole, context matters. Myers whole eucharist desecration didn’t take place in a church. He wasn’t doing it to specifically piss off every Catholic in the country out of irrational hate a la the Florida Koran Burner. He also desecrated the Bible, and pages from the Koran, as well as The God Delusion. He did it in response to a Catholic Congregation trying to get a college student in Florida expelled for pocketing the host. Some Catholics even advocated having the kid charged with Kidnapping.
He was making a point that what’s sacred to one select group of people, absolutely isn’t required to be “revered” to the rest of us. Some of us don’t worship at the alter of Palin and AM hate radio, and yet we are despised by those who do, are we assholes for pointing that we are Patriotic too?
The whole post is worth reading. If only for the context.
We’ve had a test case of this, with this election. Republicans offered no true move forward – because really, the only way forward these last two years IS an overhaul of medical coverage, which still grows by leaps and bounds eating up more and more of the US economy. And the only way to address the recessionary output gap IS stimulus spending, on smart things like a new energy infrastructure for the US (and replacing stuff that is 50-70 years old.)
None of that is radical. and it has to be paid for. The same way that Eisenhower paid for the highway system (with tax rates of over 50%).
Quite pragmatic goals – no chance of them being enacted, now.
Ya know, I’m watching “Capitalism: A Love Story” on cable right now (I’m sick with a nasty sinus infection and have been all week. Watching TV is about all I can do during the work day …).
I can’t help but be struck by howmuch the 2008 Obama victory resonated and energized people … the takeover of the Republic Windows plant (for those who forgot, here is the story), the anger at the bankers and Wall Street …. the entire feeling at the end of this movie is “there’s a new sheriff in town.”
And look what happened. It all went kerflewy. Democrats fucked up. I’m sorry, I realize that’s not always the popular viewpoint over here, but it’s true. There was so much energy, so much momentum, so much hopey changey shit and the Dems just decided not to fight any more. They decided half a job would be good enough.
I don’t know if it was a belief in Bipartisan Fairies or plain ol’ greed or getting bought or getting outplayed or what, but the Dems have no one to blame but themselves for this. They got scared by some Teanut Zombies and scurried back into their gated communities.
We really deserve better.
they lose policy. Every. Single. Time.
Unionization is way down. The financial industry ended up dominating our economy because of deregulation. Bush rolled back taxes on the wealthy DURING A WAR multiple times, and it looks like they’re going to stay there. Health care reform has been stalled for 60 years and only now might get off the ground. We are not leaving Iraq anytime soon. So who’s losing on policy?
The thing you and Zifnab don’t get is that for the Republicans to absolutely reform means that they have to be defeated at the polls, multiple times, in humiliating fashion. If they keep winning, that does t happen. And the problem is that we have a bunch of liberals who think that winning and using power is unsportsmanlike.
Matt. 25: 40 ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for
one of the least of these brothers and sisters of minethe richest of the rich, you did for me.’
If we didn’t tax the rich at all, we would soon reach full employment due to the increased demand for yachts.
@Martin: Firstly, past performance is not always an indication of future success.
Secondly, if someone aims a gun at you, shoots, and misses over and over again, it doesn’t make you feel any safer. It’s not like the Republicans can’t kill SS and Medicare. They just haven’t yet.
And third and finally, I think they’ve been getting better with every pass. Medicare Plan C and Plan D have gone a long way towards bankrupting the original program. Funding for Social Security has been looted and filled with Treasury Notes in an age when Republicans are actively discussing defaulting on Treasury Notes (specifically, ones in the SS Trust Fund). Medicare payments are being propped up with yearly extensions, contingent on Congressional approval. Social Security payments pegged to the consumer price index barely inch along, and are scheduled for a big chop if the SS Trust runs out.
Entitlements in the ’10s may go the way of welfare in the ’90s, sacrificed on the alter of political expediency. I’m not terribly optimistic.
Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. -M L Mencken
Mencken can see America from his grave.
@Davis X. Machina: I think that his speech at the Rally to restore sanity should disabuse you of that notion. I think comedy to some extent always has that sub-text, but underneath it Stewart really cares.
Very self-aware, that Paul kid. I assume he’s talking about the GOP.
He’s just reciting the Gospel According To Citibank.
@freelancer: That PZ Myers bit reminds me of when every big-name liberal blogger decided that Obama’s people really meant to insult “liberals” and “critics” when they chided the “professional left.” He seems to be going out of his way to find himself to be a target, so that he can get good and angry about being targeted. Did Stewart say _anything_ like “You’re as crazy as the teabaggers if you think your principles are worth fighting for”? No. Just, no. He said we shouldn’t demonize the other side–and he also said that politicians and the media thrive on egging on our demonization of one another. Now, I kind of like demonizing, so that part of the Stewart message isn’t really for me either. But Myers is off track, because he lumped in a whole lot of people who there’s no reason to think Stewart meant at all.
I think there is truth to this, I’m just not sure how much, and I’m not sure which democrats. I hate this ‘narrative’ exercise that says ‘so and so happened’.
A few counterpoints to chew on:
a. 60 seats in the Senate to get anything done. Example – stimulus. Obama said unequivocally that he couldn’t get the wavering votes to sign off on more stimulus in the Senate. Unequivocally.
b. “Louder prouder Democrat”. That would ‘keep the energy’. Look at Grayson, and other ‘loud proud” democrats. They lost. so the ‘energy’ that was lost, I think, was about the drag of the economy. Which ‘sank all democratic boats’. but wasn’t about ‘attitude’.
c. Lastly – Democrats and “Democrats”. The Blue Dogs, the future lobbyists in training Democrats – yeah, they really could give a crap. But I would say that the for the administration, this was a headache, not they had to deal with THOSE democrats, and knew they couldn’t get their votes.
Again, structural issues – not issues of ‘attitude’.
@Linda Featheringill: Funny, but I just got that email from 5 candidates I gave money to, two winners and three losers.
You failed to include the T. Kennedy quote that at least two of them did. The one where “the dream lives on”.
Not being snarky. They’ve been hitting my spam box.
Or Arthur Jensen.
You can only get so much stuff done in two years. Could the Dems have passed more? Perhaps. Did they make mistakes? Absolutely. But you had guys fighting tooth and nail, like Alan Grayson, who went down just as hard as folks that drove the knife into our backs at every chance, like Bobby Bright. They’re all unemployed now.
The Dems lost the media game. Republicans – once again – successfully framed the debate. Democrats were made the scapegoats of an economy that had been crumbling for years.
And if you look at the charts and the projections, we are generally on the road to recovery. ’10 looks much better than ’08. But the voters didn’t care. Democrats stayed home. Republicans went right back to the Bush Era crew.
My only consolation is that a lot of the blood was shed in states harboring the Dems that were more than happy to fuck us over.
What is this “Dems just decided not to fight any more” based on? Some fought with all they had. Some, a smaller group, don’t actually believe in economic populism or cracking down on the abuses of businesses and corporations, and they made the fight much harder. Then Republicans made it impossible to go any farther than that, by shrieking about socia1ism — and their “tea party” flashpoint, you’ll recall, was outrage over _helping people afford their own mortgages_. So I think you’re totally wrong to say “Dems… decided half a job would be good enough.” It was a fucking Herculean effort to get “half a job” done in the first damn place.
I agree Martin.
Screaming just begets more screaming.
I am angry and understand why people are upset that we never seem to stand up for ourselves in the aggressive way that the right seems to use so successfully… I believe we end up blaming and punishing ourselves that rationality and an attempt to govern rather than rule, seems to be so difficult. It IS of course difficult. But it seems we translate that because what we are trying to do is so difficult and so fraught with vulnerability, that our approach MUST be wrong, since what the right is doing so effortlessly must therefore somehow be right or correct.
We don’t truly believe in ourselves or our message enough to take the hard times. Its like parents who are having troubles dealing with their teenager regreting ever being parents… this one difficult phase defines the whole effort as a failure rather than being part of a longer process…
I can see that. Myers has a flair for being ornery and bombastic so you gotta take him with a grain of salt, and though I’m in his camp of being pretty much anti-theist, he far too often speaks as if he’s speaking for an entire movement (Atheism, Education, the Left, etc.). And this is from a guy who has emailed links to other Myers’ posts and said “This. This is the exact articulation of how I feel. He speaks for me, in this case.”
There’s a reason I don’t comment at Pharyngula, I think I’d find it far too redundant. I think in this case, he’s still pissed at Chris Mooney for being conciliatory to creationists and projecting some of that onto Stewart. The thing about tone, I think though, is dead on. There’s nothing dehumanizing about passionately stating, “Your positions are ridiculous and no one should take your opinion seriously.”
No I don’t buy that. They got scared by the Teanutties and decided instead of saying “no, this isn’t SOCIALISM this is a policy that we don’t agree with but it’s not SOCIALISM” they decided to say shit like they didn’t know if Obama was a Muslim or not and might be a terorrist and other STUPID shit. That “smaller group” who don’t believe in economic populism and Lierbshit should never EVER have been allowed to get away with slandering their own party as much as they may have disagreed with policies. They bought into the narrative.
@JC: I’m with you on each point. “Democrats” include mainstream Democrats and conservative Democrats. Conservative Democrats, perhaps feeling cocky about being the spearhead of the huge Congressional majority, made mainstream Democrats stroke and please them in order to get anything accomplished. Thus “Democrats” look bad from a liberal standpoint because _despite_ everything mainstream Democrats did, conservative Democrats fucked them but good.
I don’t see the good in attributing to “Democrats” what should be properly laid at the feet of _conservative Democrats_. And all the second-guessing we do IMHO has to address what would have more effectively budged the conservative Democrats into more cooperative behavior.
I liked this Chait post in response to Douthat. That is summed up by this quote:
Me too… and it’s one of the main reasons I’m not despondent about 65 seats or whatever it is. If passing historic legislation means historic midterm losses then I will take that exchange every single time.
It’s also exactly what Obama ran on and there was a lot of spirit of the inauguration at that rally. No, the left is not batshit insane, but it is just as liable to fall into the trap of demonizing its opponents through caricature, dividing the country into angels and devils, etc., which is not conducive to civil discourse. At a certain point you have to make a decision as to whether your opponents pose such an existential threat that they must be treated as enemies. Does the current GOP pose this threat?
My point is the Blue Dogs and Conservadems ended up poisoning the well and they ruined it for good Dems like Russ Feingold as well as themselves.
I’m glad some Blue Dogs got swept away but they took some good people down with them.
And we’re STILL stuck with Harry fucking Reid as majority leader.
What we are doing, what we were trying to do is always harder than what the republicans and right want to do. Should we therefore not try to do those things?
The right has success in crafting small, hateful and emotionally powerful messaging that involve fear, need to be superior and need to be rich and/or in power. Our values and goals do not as easily lend themselves to that. So do we just say that our goals and values are wrong because they are not as easily amplified?
We can’t abandon who we are and what we value and we must stop punishing our more difficult efforts with unfair and unhelpful comparisons to right wing values and messaging.
Which is not to say at all that we cannot improve what we communicate and how we do it — just that we have a harder task and the long game is what we must — MUST — learn how to accept. That IS how we roll.
Wrong. A guy with your nym should know better. There is nothing in this world more satisfying, more life-affirming, than dropping a quick floater every am. That’s how you know you are eating right and still alive.
Please, let’s not get so caught up in the sillyness of this election season where we lose sight of the things that are really important; loose shoes, tight pussy, and a warm place to shit.
edit: The spam filter doesn’t like Earl Butz? Commies.
Good point and perspective.
That’s what I call the long game and totally agree. Just have to teach myself to remember that and keep it in my heart and my head.
The Dems do NOT believe in governance. If they did, they would have done some governing during the last four years, first during 2006-2008 when they controlled Congress, and then 2008 when they controlled both Congress and the White House.
I am not sure WHAT it is they really want, but I suspect it has to do with money and the glories and perks of Washington D.C. and all the contacts and cocktail parties it brings. Oh, and time on TV shows to diss the “far left.” Which used to be the center in this insane country.
Digby quotes Hillary quoting Harriet Tubman:
“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If they’re shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop, keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
Damn skippy. I might put that on a shirt.
@MBunge: How are the Republicans in worse shape? They were staring at one of the worst electoral defeats in 2008. The nation hated them and their policies, but two short years later their shit no longer stinks.
If anything they seem to be in better shape than the Democrats were in 2008. They got away with their reckless obstructionist agenda and were rewarded. They actively tried to stop everything proposed to address this economic crisis, from the stimulus to extending aid to states, so teacher’s and firefighters and cops wouldn’t get laid off and the Democrats still couldn’t paint them as the bad guys, who are making things worse.
I can understand losing a few seats in the House and maybe a few seats in the Senate, but for Republicans to be able to flip the House this quickly after screwing the pooch in 2008, just doesn’t make me optimistic about Democrats chances in 2012.
they lose policy. Every. Single. Time.
Depends on what you call “policy”. For the last thirty years, since Saint Ronny was crowned, money has flowed from the working man to the wealthy man. For thirty years.
For the last thirty years, median wages have remained stagnant as the economy grew. Unions have withered to dust; corporate power has grown to mammoth proportions. All the benefits of growth have gone to the guys at the top, mostly to the ones at the very, very top. For thirty years.
Imagine, to plagiarise Orwell, a (well-polished) boot on the neck of the working man, forever. This is their policy, and for thirty years, it’s been pretty g****mn successful.
And the biggest success of all? Time and again, they persuade the working men and women of America to slit their own throats.
For thirty years.
Yes to that! Then they run for the Planning Board, School Board, Park Board, City Council, then they move on to the small state and county positions and the next thing you know the wingnuts hold all the “insignificant” positions on the local, county and at the state level. Then “long time local civic leader” James J Winger is running for congress, wins…and you and I are having a beer and we both say at the same time “how’d that moron get elected”?
At this point, I’m not sure that the dream does live on.
I’m more at the place St. Paul was when he said he had fought a good fight and ran a good race.
No, actually, their shit still stinks. People still hate the Republicans. They hate the Republicans even MORE than they hate the Democrats, but people voted for them anyway.
The only problem with what you say, is that most of the time the guy getting elected really does reflect the opinions and attitudes of his constituency. Those conservative Democrats weren’t conservative in a vacuum. That’s really the only type of Democrat you’re likely to get from those constituencies. If the Democrats ever take those house/senate seats back the new Democrat is likely to be a lot like the Democrat that just lost his/her job.
If you want more progressive laws then you HAVE to make them appeal, at least a little, to conservative Democrats too. How that gets done I don’t know.
Elie, you cannot justify incompetent campaigning and an unwillingness to challenge and attack Republican narratives and politicians by claiming that they’re not part of your values. That is a cop-out and a justification to keep losing and being bullied.
It’s a shame to see that choice get penalized instead of rewarded, but perhaps it’s inevitable.
I know that everyone’s big criticism today is that they should’ve done more to help the economy, but it’s not like there’s a big “Economy” dial they can just crank up to 11; any effort to help the economy further would have gotten sliced and diced and pulled and yanked until it was a lot less than ideal, _because that’s what coalition politics looks like_.
And then we’d have a round of post-mortems about how the Big Mistake Democrats Made was the long drawn-out debate on the “Good Economy” bill, which opened the party to charges of “overreach” and “socia1ism” and wasn’t all that effective anyway because they chose to make it too small just to spite blog-reading liberals, when what we all know they should have done was a health care bill, for which polling still shows considerable support. How did they get the Good Economy bill so wrong? Why did they compromise to Republicans? How can we go on? Fuck it all, I’m leaving! And… scene.
And that is the nub of our internal “Democrat” issue. We do not share monolithic values. And yet, we want to keep pretending that we can generate smooth, effortless policy out of a diverse group of people with very differing priorities and constituencies. Instead, we fracture and then blame the other side for being faithless and not truly Democratic…
We DO have to make progressive policies attactive to range of Democrats and when we do that, we do win. We spent a fair amount of time the last two years knee capping each other, despite our successes. The infighting helped the republicans mightily.
Then there was the white fright thing that the tea party represented. That cannot be underestimated and my take is that it kept some of the white, more conservative Democrats at home too.
All the battles about domestic policy, and to a degree even foreign policy come down to this. Republicans want wages to be lower. Democrats generally (but not always see Dogs; Blue) want wages to be higher.
The problem is that Democrats don’t want to make this argument because it’s uncivil. It’s against the pale to say that a political ideology wants everybody other than themselves to make less. It’s almost a third rail of sorts.
Which is why I find the civility thing kind of galling. These things need to be said and they’re not being said. Voting Republican should be seen by your friends and family as stealing from them. Because it is.
I am not sure where you read that in what I wrote, but that is not at all what I am saying. Screaming does not help but of course, making strong arguments in support of our values and comparing that to the other side is always necessary. The message matters — not necessarily just the fight.
This is an interesting analysis. Care to expound on it?
In 2012 the R’s will maintain the House and take the Senate. And right now I’m willing to go 50/50 they win the WH with whatever narcissist they nominate.
@Berial: “What is the first part of politics? Education. The second? Education. And the third? Education.” – Jules Michelet, Le Peuple
If you want people to vote for liberals, you need to teach them why liberal policies are better.
@Southern Beale: They voted for Republicans because the economy sucks, people don’t like the status quo, and the Dems ended up being the symbol of the status quo. I think this vote reflects a perfectly rational reaction on the part of we, the people, even if I believe that it also ensured that things are going to get far worse. If I’m right about that, then in two years, we the people are going to like the status quo even less. The only question is who will represent the status quo in 2012.
Ditto this. Democrats function as the responsible party, because somebody has to. Republicans have message discipline, democrats get 30 million more people onto health care insurance. There is pain with change, and lots of fear, especially before the change takes place on the ground. Human nature, and the wingnuts are expert political predators exploiting that change and the negative emotion it generates. The other problem is, apparently, a lot of democrats need excessive amounts of political foreplay in order to get aroused enough to do their motherfucking civic duty and vote.
My take is different. The GOP doesn’t kill SS and Medicare because they don’t want to. They know that killing these programs would destroy them as a party. They won yesterday due exclusively to the >65 vote. There’s some freaky pact going on where seniors overlook this rhetoric as bullshit and Republicans campaign on it to suck in glibertarian types who are too fucking stupid to realize that it’s bullshit.
As for C and D, those were genuine efforts to keep those same voters on their side. Sure, they’re blowing up Medicare something fierce right now, but so what? The GOP passes these measures with no spending provision and everyone >65 is thrilled and votes GOP. They the GOP rails against ‘tax and spend liberals’ for the failures of Medicare spending, and get everyone <65 who thinks that their future will be bankrupt to vote GOP. And they know that eventually Dems will show up to fix it and who fucking cares if they don't – by the time the country goes bankrupt they'll all be dead. It's win-win for them. They're not going to wreck a good formula.
But put me in Chait's column:
This really has turned into a little game that every parent plays with their kids. I go out in the garage to work on a project for my wife. When my son was little he’d want to come and help. So we’d make the little thing she wanted, and he’d use the saw and the hammer and beat the hell out of the thing and generally make a mess of it, and when he had enough of ‘helping’ I’d send him in for a cookie while I ‘finished’ and then go and make it for real. It was a big waste of time and materials, but he felt grown-up for helping, and in the end the project got done. Republicans get all eager some years and like to pretend to govern. Maybe they’ll grow up and learn to do it for real, but for now the Democrats job is to run around after them and fix their messes. But in the end, the project gets done.
@Corner Stone: From a purely political perspective of 2012 it is unfortunate that the Dems did not lose the Senate as well as the House, because though it would make the next two years worse, it would have allowed Obama and the Dems cleaner positioning. I don’t see much political use in controlling a dysfunctional Senate except that it keeps committees from opening investigations to go fishing.
This. This is what Obama didn’t and/or couldn’t do enough of. It’s something Harry Reid and a fuckload of Dems can’t do at all or refuse to do because the status quo is satisfactory for their main corporate benefactors.
Dismal governing results+ poor messaging + lack of conviction/spinelessness= electoral waterloo
@Corner Stone: I think it’s too early to say either way. The GOP have written a pretty big check for 2012, and I don’t think they can make good on it.
But we’ll see what Obama does. Ball’s in his court right now.
that foreplay part of your comment is pretty funny. I would have highlighted it in my comment except the right margin monster is preventing me from easily doing much except reading comments using the scroll bar.
Effing pain in the ass.
I thought Cole was going to redesign this site so that wouldnt happen but not yet, apparently.
Hey, Marco Rubio! You’ve just won a contentious Senate race in Florida! What are you going to do next?
Make a pilgrimage to Israel.
Methinks the Golden Anchor Baby has been reading too many Left Behind novels.
he other problem is, apparently, a lot of democrats need excessive amounts of political foreplay in order to get aroused enough to do their motherfucking civic duty and vote.
Democrats are no different tha Republicans in this sense, but Democrats feel that riling up the voters is just a little too dirty to get involved in. They really think that voting should be about calmly deciding what the best policy is after listening to all sides discuss the best solution during a Brookings Institution panel discussion.
The message matters—not necessarily just the fight.
If YOU’RE not willing to fight for the rightness of your message, why should anyone else? People are willing to help out someone who’s been unjustly victimized, but no one likes a perpetual victim.
One of the better parts of the book “The Ugly American” is where the American in Sarkhan hears from his Sarkhanese ally that he’s decided to support the Communists, and explains that, basically, it’s because the Communists care enough to win, and the Americans don’t. At a certain point, he realizes that the Americans are just insulting. And everyone knows how bad the Communists were for Southeast Asia, now, but plenty of people went over to their side because they acted like they could do what was necessary to win. How often do you think that happens with American voters when it comes to the Republicans?
Well, looks like you’re in a bit of a pickle then along with some of your other firebagger friends.
The current administration can’t/won’t govern and the right wing republicans certainly aren’t. What’s your pleasure, Wyld?
1. Retire to desert island far far away and mail in a revolution.
2. Learn prison etiquette and write a book about it
3. spend endless hours posting comments here criticizing those who actually want to try to get shit to work but have to deal with reality of right and centrists that actually are in power right now…
4. Start a for real revolution and not some cheap “You Shoulda done this, you shoulda done that” lecture gig pointed at all current Democrats.
I am sure something will feel right…
@Martin: I was surprised at how much trouble the gooper talking heads had last night when pressed on paying for their tax cuts. They obviously haven’t thought about it at all, which is a sign that they are not at all prepared. I’ll be most interested in the insights Bobo develops from talking to folks gathered around the Applebees salad bar.
I blame Obama, I’m sure this has been said before, but why did they disband OFA? alot of people after the election were ready to continue phone banking, knocking on doors and generally organizing to accomplish progressive goals. Obama didn’t want that, let his whole wonderful campaign apparatus go. I really don’t know why, I vary between thinking that he’s a totally bought off corporatist or someone pointed a gun to his head and said, Michelle, Malia and Sasha are next.
You make some good points, Tyro, but when you say fight, what do you mean? Screaming, angry rhetoric? Aggressive, verbal opposition to every comment made by every right winger and everyone in the media, 24/7?
What is fight?
We fought. Sometimes, and unhelpfully, with each other as well. What does fighting get you? After a fight, is someone you are trying to convince of something feel more or less likely to believe you?
Or does fight mean standing up for yourself, representing your values clearly and with passion and also listening to what the other side fears and wants?
Fight means a lot of things. If you are just angry and want to pound something, (and I DO truly understand that sentiment mightily), it just doesnt result in what I think you want — which is less about coercion and force than bringing along new awareness and understanding.
But that just does not sound that butch, does it?
Republicans have historically had higher voter turnout per their registered voters for decades now. That is why for dems just to break even in any given election, the polled likely voter margin needs dems to be up 5 or 6 points.
It takes something like 8 years of Bush destruction of the country, and a once in a lifetime gifted orator to get enough of them excited enough to vote in high enough numbers to win an election. AND THEN JUST BARELY. Fuck this needing to be dirty to get motivated shit. Dem voters, or a lot of them, are apathetic fruit loops, interested in other things. Republicans win because more of their voters are aware of and focused on who wins elections mattering in their daily lives. Adults have responsibilities, and one of them is to participate in government by at least voting. And when they don’t, or enough of them don’t, and the wingnuts win, they whine about how screwed up shit is. And how unexcited they are. The wingnuts will give them plenty to get excited over, but not the willowy swoon kind of excitement.
Oh, well. At least she didn’t dress up in Mooslim garb and scare Juan Williams into another $2 million contract.
Anyway, the oversensitive uncivil types in the legislature alongside her go all PC unhinged.
She’s right. Now is the time for us all to pull together and put our niggling problems aside.
Tim Wise is often right. I hope he is this time.
@KJbrooklyn: Huh? OFA’s been sending me emails several times a week for the last couple of months. When did they disband?
Elie, you might consider it unsportsmanlike to actually capture the media cycle and to hit back, and hit back hard against right wing attacks and invented kerfluffles. You might consider it “inappropriate” to pick an odious republican target and do the same to him. But not doing it (the John Kerry/Michael Dukakis strategy) makes you look like a fool and humiliates your supporters.
As to what to do about it? I think some level of acceptance might be in order: in the 1920s, you just had to accept that America was a place where segregation and lynching was the norm, because politically, the structure of the government and the moral turpitude of the populace was going to allow it to continue– you could always leave if these policies were morally unacceptable to you.
But I don’t think you really get that voters don’t like losers. I guess it’s sort of a middle class prerogative to “lose honorably” while sort-of advocating for your views without actually winning elections, but it doesn’t do the people who would benefit from the policies any good.
Why I thought I would emulate you, Elie, and just be another loudmouth yakking on a message board….
All your yakking and “wisdom” here stopped exactly what? Show me. Otherwise, don’t accuse or imply–with your snarky-ass comment that I’m “bad for the Dems” or “not a Dem” any of that other weird-ass purity test shit some of you people have going on here.
Otherwise, I don’t think I addressed anything to you in this thread. Now, if by being a smartass in your reply to my comment–which wasn’t directed at you btw–was an attempt to pick a fight, well,you’re entitled to do that.
On topic, in that it’s a mental health link, go watch some eagles for a while.
You can still catch them while it’s light.
Obama is toast in 2012. We have a wide field of staunch conservatives with the Tea Party holding their feet to the fire.
And with unemployment around 10% (still) in 2012, Obama is finished. His Presidency effectively ended last night.
@Darkrose: I think KJbrooklyn is talking about the months after inauguration, when OfA was supposedly retooling, but instead got caught flat-footed by the rise of the teabaggers. There was little attempt to use the group, for instance, in the stimulus fight or the early rounds of health care reform. Actually for a long time all they did was send out useless emails, which simply taught everyone to ignore all correspondence from the group. So then when they did finally get their shit together in the fall of 2009, the group never really did, imho, get good traction.
@change: So what you are saying is that the Republicans will take no action to help the economy because keeping unemployment high will hurt Obama? Are you really admitting that you support people who would hurt other Americans purely for political gain? That is an amazing admission.
I am not picking a fight.
I was noting that your comment above (which you did not address to me, I agree), gave you no place to go: the current administration is feckless and so are all the alternatives. Isnt that what you implied? My snark about mailing in a revolution addresses the odd place you leave yourself in.
Its hard to know what to say. What I would like to see, however, is more reality and honesty around understanding how difficult it is and how long it takes to make change in this difficult period. Responses such as yours just seem pointless. Quit already! Lets just give up and go home cause it aint gonna get easier and the seemingly easy “fixes” that you and your firebagger brethren support are not any more likely to be easy or effective…
So basically, I am saying, line up with the rest of us for the effort to fix this shit or at least to keep trying to fix it or leave those of us alone who want to try — still.
We’re not in charge here yet. BO is, and BO will veto any measure we pass to help the economy, or Reid will kill it in the Senate. So yes, the economy will be horrible in 2012.
At some point, you’d think these folks would get that that phrase is considered a joke.
Yeah, you’re just a troll, but you bring up a point.
Obama, if us kids don’t remember, ran one of the more solid campaigns of our lifetime, all things considered. You can and should fault some of the ways he’s governed, but if you think he’ll just up and die in the 2012 campaign, then you were watching something else in 2008. I hear the calls for Feingold to primary him and just chuckle; boy, that’ll be a fun week and a half. Obama brought down the Clintons and spun webs around the right wing…Feingold lost to a mensa who thinks global warming is caused by sun spots. Way to fight, Russ.
So yeah, declare him dead, give us your Presidents Romney, Huckleberry, and whoever else. I like Obama in that fight easy.
It seem there are some who agree with us:
The masses are asses who would rather watch Dancing With the Stars than think analytically about what is happening to their country.
Of course we should. However, we should also be aware of why we lost. It wasn’t because of something Obama and the Dems did or didn’t do nearly so much as it was the several billion dollars in megaphones purchased by the opposition to shout us down. The Republicans won the rhetorical war. That doesn’t make their position more virtuous, merely more persuasive. But claiming Democrats would have won if they’d just been more progressive (or less progressive) won’t get you anywhere. Policy had nothing to do with ’10. It was all rhetoric.
I disagree. I think a lot of those southern Dems got elected while running under corporate cover and with the backing of established political machines. You saw it in the Bill Halter versus Blanche Lincoln race. Halter had the unions and the progressives while Lincoln had Walmart and the national party. We can get better, but we won’t if the best candidates won’t get backed by the money and the machine.
@Omnes Omnibus: Hey, what’s wrong with hurting millions of people if it means getting to piss off a couple of center-left liberals on blog somewhere? Surely it was worth it.
Krugman is right:
“Urk. I just gave up on the presidential press conference. When Obama declared that Americans rejected Democrats in part because “We were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn’t change how things got done,” I checked out.
Nobody cares about this stuff — they care about results. Nobody really cares about earmarks; they’re just code for spending less (less on somebody else, of course, not me). Nobody cares about civility and bipartisanship, which in practice are code for Democrats giving in to Republican demands”.
bold emphasis added
Yep, “roll over Obama”……..
Well, that’s just Elitist talk!
Count me in.
I agree with just about everything in this piece by John Judis. This is going to be a very painful next decade.
Tyro, no disrespect but what does “hit back and hit back hard” translate to? There was frequent and vocal opposition that got diluted by the media and/or just lost — no doubt a better messaging effort would have helped — will not quibble there. But how do you hit back harder? Call them names? Scream and foam at the mouth while you rant? Who should have been doing the hitting? If opposition is not effective, doing it harder, louder with more brio is not going to necessarily be any more convincing.
Tell me honestly, how much do you think that the criticism and knee capping from the firebaggers wounded our interests? How many were kept at home hearing our own so called side criticizing the policies and achievements of our own administration? Not at all? Really?
I DO believe that there is true need for honest criticism and feedback, but there were many times when the criticism from was severe and unwarranted and ultimately very damaging.
How does that then fit with the admonition to fight back hard? Fight back hard against all critics or just the ones on the other side?
Coercion is just not the same as convincing. No one is going to be muscled into agreeing with you or into being silenced.
Again, I understand your anger — which I also share. Its pretty frustrating what has been happening. I however think its simplistic to make the solution into “fighting harder” — louder. Its just more complex than that.
I was noting that your comment above … gave you no place to go: the current administration is feckless and so are all the alternatives.
That is a completely fair point for him to make. You make a common mistake in which liberals way underestimate the necessity for leadership at the top. Sometimes the guy(s) at the top are unable/unwilling to act in the manner that the times call for, and there’s nothing you can really do about it. The universe is bigger than you are. So sometimes you just wait until the next cycle, identify politicians who share your values and reward those guys. There’s no reason to be someone else’s martyr when there are potentially better uses of your time.
@jwb: Oh, they’ve thought about it, but they know that it’s impossible to do what they’ve promised. And there are more than a few Republicans out there that actually do care about governing that have noticed.
So, rather than go into a longwinded wonkish explanation about why it’s impossible to zero out the deficit for 2012 (which is what Obama would do) they say ‘we’ll cut spending and fix the deficit’ and leave it at that, knowing that in 2 years they’ll just loop around and say it again.
The difference this time is that the people that really turned out to vote *really* expect it’ll happen. Chalk that up to Glenn Beck. And it’s not going to happen. And they’re going to be pissed.
Elie, you insist on constructing straw men, implying that a strong, aggressive media strategy and coordinated attacks is “foaming at the mouth.” look, if you’re not willing to adapt to the modern media landscape and consider yourself too good for that, just say so: go volunteer for the second coming of Adlai Stevensen or something. But you do tend to insist on these straw man constructions where actually fighting back and striking back at your opponents attacks is something you consider to be a coercive “foaming at the mouth” and other things you KNOW aren’t true.
As I said, you seem to either not know that voters don’t like to see their leaders humiliate themselves and be bullied, because it humiliates and embarrasses those supporters, or you actively don’t like the idea of having those sorts of voters on your side.
You don’t know that I don’t try. I engage almost everyone I see about the “state of the country/economy”. I don’t push Rethug views. I combat Rethug propaganda.
I don’t understand the vendetta some people have here agaoinst people that dare criticize anything Obama–or most other Dems–do. It’s mostly Obama criticism that sets folks off.
Just upboard, I posted something Krugman had to say. He’s fucking right. People don’t care about a lot of shit Obama was talking about today. They care about results that they can understand. They understand a shitload of folks aren’t working. They don’t understand they got a “tax cut” from Obama.
The American people are stupid and slow. They seem to only understand soundbites. If Obama wants to be understood, maybe he has to dumb it down more. Because it’s “hard” or the “media won’t cooperate” or the “rethugs twist his word” doesn’t excuse them fro9m trying.
You stay home. Don’t mess up that pretty little head of yours or “waste your time”.
You can wait for the Messiah in the comfort of your own home.
How will you know when its the real thing? What will be the “sign”
@change: Shorter Change: Conservatives refuse to accept any responsibility for anything.
Posted without comment:
From the second Esquire piece: Fluoridation is mentioned on occasion, and not in a happy way
From the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Joe Miller’s hometown paper: Fairbanks panel hears water fluoridation testimony
And a letter-to-the-editor: Remove fluoride<a hmm link didnt work so here it is all ugly and stuff: http://newsminer.com/view/full_story/9699257/article-Remove-fluoride?
I confess that while I have been a strong Obama supporter, he has clearly made mistakes and I have my confidence in him shaken. I hope he can make some changes to his message and tactics.
That said, I still intend to fight for what I believe in — with whatever I have and using whatever institutions are in place.
That sometimes means confronting friends and listening to people that I strongly disagree with — like my tea party neighbors across the street. Gotta figure this out so that we can fix our broken country some kind of way
I cannot — we cannot wait for the perfect situation, leader, etc. We have to try to make it perfect, best we know how and to the level we can. Right today, right now
That is all.
@Darkrose: That’s just righteous!
Eli, you and your straw men again, cooked up with some self righteousness about how great you are for losing over and over again because you never would want to be uncivil. I’m always going to vote for the Dem, but voters aren’t going to support someone who isn’t going to stand up for himself: not just argue in favor of his beliefs but actively go after bullying malefactors. Because we help victims and pity them: we don’t select them as our leaders. But it sounds like you don’t want leadership, you want a forum in which you can feel virtuous about yourself and hope someday someone might see thugs your way. If you’re into that, then you should become a Brookings fellow, but elections and parties are a different beast.
I don’t disagree with anything you said. I’m disappointed as well. I expected a lot. Obama’s accomplished a lot. I want more. I want him to be elected again.
I don’t like his tendency to pursue this “bipartisanship” pipe dream. The Rethugs have no intention of compromise and every intention of obstruction. They’re saying it openly.
Obama is beginning to appear weak and conciliatory. He is beginning to look easily rolled and like he won’t stand up.
Okay “Change” and then what? Explain to me in terms that I can understand just what the plan is to turn the country around. Why let’s cut taxes and then cut some more.
The R’s have the House, what are they going to do? What’s the plan? Spend two years trying to impeach Obama? Phony fucking investigations by Issa? And just who are the candidates the Rs plan to run in 2012…Palin, Gingrich, Romney, the asshat from Minnesota, Thune and how about Haley Barbour…weak list Change, weak list! Are the Baggers going to force John “Boner” to insert Michele Bachmann into the number 3 position in the house? Why don’t you talk to your 65+ base about privatizing SS and cutting Medicare…I think the first thing that you should cut are the medicare plans that pay for the god damned scooters with the Gasden flags!
I am concerned about that too (looking easy to be rolled).
Tactics are very important.
I wish I knew how to help him/this administration…
I don’t believe, like Tyro advocates, in screaming more, though if I read between his lines, he is saying, I think, bring more vocal, effective opposition. I just think that is easier said than done in our current media environment. Countering that, however, I agree is extremely important and Obama should use anything he can from sex appeal to martial arts (just kidding)
I am impatient but know it is the long game and I want to be mindful of that too. Not every victory is apparent at the beginning of the battle or even in the middle. We were not routed, but we suffered a retreat. We can’t give up but have to regroup.
I would like to spend less time hurting our own side and more building. Dont know how that happens but its essential and our fractures before this election helped the enemy a lot. Cannot keep that up.
@WyldPirate: On the day after an ass-kicking like the Democrats just took, party leaders have to appear chastened. They need to say the they learned a lesson and are looking forward to working with the new Congress to help the American people. The critical thing is want happens in the next couple of weeks and then the first few months of the new Congress. Democrats need to begin to pivot from today’s stance toward something more along the lines of “While we want to work with the Republicans, we just won’t vote for things that hurt ordinary Americans. This piece of legislation would [list three horrible things the legislation would do in nice short soundbyte friendly phrases]. We just can’t go along with anything that would cause this kind of damage.” From that they should then move to pointing out that the Republicans have no policy ideas, that the Republicans’ legislative proposals would harm rather than help, and that the the only thing standing between the American people and complete disaster is the Democratic Party. YMMV.
Krugman was saying this in, oh, June 2008. Hehindeedy.
If anyone needs a laugh check this out.
Hitler reacts to Randy Moss being cut. LINK
About 0.00001%. Maybe. But I doubt it was that much.
We have over twice as many Senate seats in play in 2012. Between now and then the R’s will obstruct every thing in sight, to possibly an even greater degree than they have been doing. All the while demagogging President Obama as the one “setting the agenda” and ultimately The One to Blame.
The R’s have nothing to do, zero, zilch. If not one bill passes (beyond the needed to keep govt doors open and defense spending intact), their supporters will love them for it.
And as for Obama, the first thing that will happen is the Bush Tax Cuts will be made permanent. And Obama will sign it.
Nate Silver should never be seen.
This is crazy. Policy had as much or more to do with this outcome than any other single factor.
Elie, I get the impression that your entire idea is to “fight the good fight,” lose honorably while being slimed and humiliated as an evil anti-American CommiMuslifascistSocialist who is plotting the overthrow of America, and then in a few generations, hope that the Republicans finally adopt the ideas you advocated and pass them. Because anything else would be uncivil. And I think that’s nice of you, and all, but you should really leave running for office and nominating candidates to people who aren’t going to walk around with a sign that says “kick me.”
Re: “There’s something admirable about them…”
See comments #11 and #54 — there hasn’t been a leftist equivalent to this in a long time. I think this phenomenon contains something akin to the religious impulse; it’s difficult to maintain this level of commitment without the feeling that your cause is greater than yourself.
This kind of “irrational exuberance” requires a relatively inflexible one-size-fits-all ideology; liberalism (or even the old-fashioned ‘good government’ conservatism I remember from my youth), which takes a which ‘which size fits best?’ approach to problem-solving, isn’t a good vehicle for that kind of unstinting commitment.
The old left’s socialist roots lent a sort of messianic fervor to some of its supporters, but they pretty much dried up or died out by the 1990s while the new left never really got a foothold in the mainstream culture. I’m afraid that the only organizing principle powerful enough to get the left involved these days is opposition to the right — when it’s *our country* we need to get back (and it is) maybe more of us will get religion.
Nice job in the taters! Make some homefries, everything tastes better fried :)