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Marion On February - 24 - 2010

Something struck me this morning, thinking about what’s looming on the horizon tomorrow for the Democrats with this ginormous chinwag session that’s about to take place at Blair House.

Trust me … the world will be watching. Well, at least the BBC will be, wrinkling their noses superciliously.

What occurred to me this morning as I drove to work was how much the Democratic Party had evolved or devolved into the Knee-Jerk Party.

Think about it – especially the last three Democratic Administrations.

Carter was carried into the White House on the public’s revulsion at Nixon’s Watergate antics, coupled with Ford’s pardon of Nixon. Clinton was chosen as a reaction to Bush 41’s tanking of the economy the first time around, plus his veritable intransigence at dealing with a Democratic House and Senate. Obama was, well, put simply, a reaction to 8 disastrous years of arguably the worst, most corrupt Presidency since Warren G Harding (and he was a Republican too).

Carter tried a new, low-key populist approach to his tenure in the White House, but he was only afforded one term. His foreign policy was perceived by the hawks as weak and his inability to deal with the Iranian hostage crisis, including a botched rescue attempt by US special forces, which resulted in the deaths of the rescuers, wasn’t helped at all by a primary challenge by Ted Kennedy in 1980.

The Democrats were perceived by their supporters as weak, divided and ineffectual, and so the ‘Reagan Democrats’ were born and remained in the Republican fold for donkey’s years (pun intended).

I remember Clinton’s candidacy, when doubtful Dems were wary of a man who’d been an openly Progressive populist governor, whose wife was even further to the Left than he was. Clinton campaigned on securing universal healthcare and for allowing gays to serve openly in the US military. The ensuing result was a bitchslap in his face by a Democratic Congress regarding the healthcare question, the deplorable enactment of DADT, the loss of the House to Newt Gingrich’s nasties (the parent party of today’s National Obstructionalists), and a sharp shift to the centre which, whilst it got Clinton another term, gave us the final nail in the coffin of eventual economic meltdown – the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999.

And now, we have an intelligent, articulate, deep-thinking intellectual who speaks to us and treats us like the adults we are; and he’s beset by both sides of the political equation.

Being a superstitious person by nature, I’m wary of the truth surrounding the old premis that things happen in threes. If that’s true, then I’m wondering if we aren’t staring down the barrel of another Knee-Jerk Administration. A one-term wonder.

If so, and if we’re looking about for a culprit on which to cast blame, we need look no further than ourselves.

If nothing else, the Obama Administration has opened a can of worms for all to see exactly how big a tent the Democratic Party is. You might laugh when Glenn Beck exclaimed at the CPAC conference last week that the Republicans shouldn’t strive for a big tent. “We’re a political party, not a circus!” (Richly ironic statement, coming from an ex-rodeo clown).

Up to a point, Beck’s statement reveals a deeply ingrained problem in the Democratic Party: intolerance.

I mean the intolerance of the Democrats toward their own.

Yes, we are a big-tent party. Always have been. I hope we always will be. If you think back to the Democratic Convention of 2008, I remember looking out over the panned shot of the audience and thinking that this really WAS the face of America – all races, all faiths, united in one sole purpose. (Corny sentiment, I know, but – hey – I’ve lived abroad for most of my adult life).

The Republican faces, seen a couple of weeks later were simply old, cold and white.

The two parties might reflect two Americas, but the Democrats, within their scope, reflect many demographics of America trying to pull together to forge and further strengthen our ties as a nation.

A commentator to my recent blog about Real Time with Bill Maher remarked that she resented the fact that most celebrities, who purport to be Progressive and speak for the middle/working classes, don’t give a rat’s ass about them – in fact, hate them. I agree to a great extent.

Bill’s somebody, whom my late mother would deem ‘just a YANKEE,’ and she’d say that with disdain. A ‘YANKEE’ to her was just anyone not from our geographic area who came into the immediate domain with a pre-conceived set of ideas and notions about life on our ‘manor’ as we knew it.

Bill liked John Edwards, but didn’t like the fact that Edwards made ‘shit’ sound like it had two syllables. Bill makes jokes about Jesus’s domination of the South; well, every person with whom I went to high school, even the ones who’ve never been outside the boundaries of Fauquier County are atheist to the core, and some of them are even Republicans.

Bill assumes that incest is rampant in the South, that everyone’s married to his cousin or his sister. Well, pardon me, but I don’t remember MacKenzie Phillips as being from the South; and whilst her late father can claim Virginia birthright, he was, at the end of the day, an army brat, who’d lived far and wide.

I hate this wanton and blind categorization, this lumping assumption of native traits on a geographic area or on an ethnic group as true. I don’t think all people from New York City are rude or all Californians are flakes; but I’ve seen so-called Progressives, who pride themselves on tolerance, make openly ignorant remarks about Southerners, about people who live in what they term ‘fly-over country’ and about centrist Democrats.

A lot of times this is encouraged by people who purport to be party insiders, but who, in reality, have other agendae.

Evan Bayh announced his intention to leave the Senate recently. Immediately, the cry went up on Huffington Post about his corporate interests, his wife’s association with the private healthcare industry, how he was really a DINO. Bottom line: it was pushed that he was a corporatist, that he’d leave the Senate to make millions as a health insurance industry lobbyist.

The next day the Washington Post ran an article where various Indianans, ordinary people from all walks of life, spoke about Bayh. All were Democrats; all were dismayed at his departure. All said he was a good Senator, who worked hard for his constituents.

You know, maybe he is a corporatist; maybe he will walk away into the sunset and land a 7-figure job as a lobbyist; I don’t doubt his wife presented a severe conflict of interest in her position as a board member with one of the biggest health insurance companies in the country. Maybe the guy is a Class-A jerk, or maybe he’s just the son of a highly successful Senator, who was literally born and raised on Capitol Hill, and maybe he’s just suffering from overkill and wants to try something different before he’s too old to do so.

In his Larry King interview last week, Bill Maher dissed Bayh as a corporatist and said that he was glad that Bayh was leaving the Senate, that Bayh was part of the problem, that he wanted to see the parties more polarized.


Thinking clearly, Bill? Aren’t they polarized enough already?

Sometimes, not always, pulling to the centre is an answer. Sometimes, in politics, you have to take what you can get.

LBJ, arguably the ballsiest Democrat since Truman always said of himself that he was a compromiser and a manoeuverer; his aim was to get “something.” That was the point of politics. And LBJ accomplished.

Democratic supporters don’t serve their party by bitching, whining, moaning and scrapping amongst themselves, nor by developing the mentality of entitlers. The mentality of entitlement reigned supreme across the scope of Southern Europe and the PIIGS group (Portugal Italy Ireland Greece and Spain) is going to pull one big fuck on the stronger economies of Europe and bring that gravy train to to a grinding halt.

But Democratic politicians aren’t helping matters very much, themselves. They’re cerebralists who don’t communicate their messages well. They assume that because the voting public look like adults, they function and think as such. The truth is that somewhere during the last 30 years of plastic wealth and a culture based on greed and re-financing, we’re nothing more than recalcitrant adolescents, blinded by the latest bling. We need a Big Daddy President to define our parameters – a Jock Ewing or a John Wayne.

Instead, we get an Atticus Finch or a Henry Fonda. But, it pays to remember that even Atticus Finch had a few weapons up his sleeve and in the end, was the hero of the piece.

Politico reports today that several of the reluctant Democrats in the Senate, are lining up behind the possibility of passing the healthcare bill, and maybe including a public option, via reconciliation. This group includes Bayh (who has nothing to lose, since he’s lame duck), Ben Nelson (who recently voted with the GOP against cloture for the jobs bill and whose Medicare pork Obama threw under the political bus) and Mary Landrieu. Nelson will need strong Democratic support to retain his seat in what is essentially a red state (the home state of Henry Fonda, incidentally). Landrieu comes up for re-election in 2012. She’s citing Republican obstructionism as the reason for her change of heart. Being Southern, myself, I think probably her daddy gave her a good verbal blessing-out, with a threat to beat her ass if she didn’t find some political balls and get onside. Maybe Birch Bayh should have issued the same threat to Evan.

Maybe LBJ’s and Harry Truman’s ghosts ought to scare the hell out of the Democratic Party, and maybe its base ought to wise up and take a shard of advice from James Carville to buck up, suck up or else there’s going to be a helluva fuck up … and that doesn’t scare you, think about CPAC and the Teabaggers. And that’s not the name of some punk rock group, rather it’s a load of rock-headed punks seeking to bring down this country.

Categories: Democratic Party

68 Responses so far.

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  1. nellie says:

    Does anyone recall where we posted the accomplishments of the congress and the Obama Administration over the past year?

    • escribacat says:

      Here’s that list I copied from Hume Skeptic:

      Stem cell order reversed.
      SCHIP passed and signed into law
      Ledbetter bill passed and signed into law.
      Major Green energy initiatives started.
      EPA rules revised to address Climate Change.
      Executive order signed to protect large areas from drilling.
      Car emission standards revised.
      National Science Foundation funding boosted.
      Stimulus bill passed, and already helping revive the economy.
      Gitmo closing ordered.
      Most CIA secret prisons closed.
      T0rture banned.
      Iraq troop withdrawal ordered.
      Afghanistan approach revised.
      Direct negotiations with Iran on the way.
      Negotiations with Syria in progress.
      Disarmament talks with Russia re-started.
      Travel restrictions lifted and normalization of relations with Cuba on the table.
      Energy/Climate Change legislation passed the House, soon to be passed by Senate.
      Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

      • nellie says:

        Thank you, e! I’m going to email this to anyone who says the congress hasn’t done anything. I’m just sick of hearing people say that simply because health care is taking a long time.

        It’s going in Troll Busters! where it can be easily found.

  2. Chernynkaya says:

    Adlib, Glen Greenwald just repeated your case in your great post, American Crash.

    It’s important to look at the underlying grievances in acts of terror but that is not justifying them.

  3. Questinia says:

    You know what Republicans were called in the mid 19th century? Ones that held similar views to this crop?

    Know Nothings.

    • AdLib says:

      And they would happily call themselves that.

      Because they didn’t know enough to recognize that it wasn’t a good thing.

      • Marion says:

        Actually, the Know-Nothings were an offshoot of the early 19th Century Democratic Party. In fact, they were the lowest common denominator of Jacksonian Democrat, a reaction to the Northeastern educated elite abolitionists (think John Quincy Adams and Charles Sumner) and very anti-immigration.

        The Democratic Party, as we know it today, is the natural successor to the Progressive movement that came out of the Whig Party in the 1850s, and that was the political party that became the Republican Party.

        The metamporphosis began to take place under Roosevelt I (who actually left the Republicans), continued under Roosevelt II and ended the first phase of its transition under LBJ. Trust me, if you took a time trip back to the 1850s, you’d recognise their Democrats as our Republicans.

  4. Questinia says:

    Reid is as sexy as ear wax.

  5. Questinia says:

    All problems stem from insensitive, jerk, Libruls pokin’ fun at the Midwesterners and Southerners for being a bunch of incestuous, drooling, drawling gumps on the Tay Vay.

    This period of American history can be called “Revenge of the Gumps” brought to you by its corporate sponsors.

    Now with extra progressive stain-lifting power!!

  6. KQuark says:

    Excellent post. Frankly I don’t see much difference in the methods used by either end of the political spectrum. Both sides try to push out moderates when demographically most the largest group in this country are moderates. Both sides think bipartisanship is evil and are just concerned with winning the partisan war. Both sides use hyperbole and try to appeal to base emotions in making their arguments. Sure the ends are quite different but the means are the same.

    I know many people say the Democrats should communicate better and some criticism is valid since Dems don’t know how to unify their message. However even if the Dems did have a unified message they don’t have a mouthpiece like Faux News and the right wing echo chamber. Dems have nothing but the MSM that
    occasionally covers the facts and a progressive media that says anything moderately progressive, is not progressive enough.

  7. choicelady says:

    GREAT assessment, Marion! I think you’ve nailed it, and I like the thoughtful reflection you’ve given to the background to Dem wimpiness coupled with the need for compromise. Compromise is not wimpy. To have a legitimate government, you HAVE to pay attention to the other side, to honor their concerns. You don’t have to give away the store -- people did elect whom they elected for a reason -- but you cannot trod on the others with hobnail boots without consequence.

    I see the Dems getting a spine, and I’m happy about that. I also see Obama publicly reaching out to the Republicans, and I’m happy about that, too, because I think each time he does, and they say “NO” it strengthens, not weakens, our move forward. “We tried. Look at how stubborn they are! We need to move on even if they won’t”

    My beef is indeed with the very public people such as Maher (I think I am the one, at least one of the ones, who says they don’t give a rat’s ass about people) and the unseen but mouthy armchair “liberals” who have some hobby horse that has not yet passed that makes them threaten to sit out the next election. As if THAT makes sense!

    My greatest hope is that the Reeps are self immolating. The split in several primaries next week between not just competing candidates within the party but the inclusion of tea bag people as well, means that it is very likely that they will get the WORST candidates imaginable or push people such as Rick Perry so far to the extreme right that the rank and file voters will just say NO to the party again.

    Last night on MSNBC one commentator noted that the Republicans see Brown’s victory as a signal that all is turning their way without noticing that the party members who are part of the tea bag movement are running up the hill toward THEM bent on destroying even the extra conservative mainstream party people. They seem oblivious to their own party’s radical fragmentation. The leaders are Frankenstein. Teabaggers are the Monster, and it’s gaining on ’em.

    One note -- the tea bag folks seem to be, like the Christian Coalition before them, to be running for local offices. We did a great job in the 1990s of “outing” them, so we need to keep our eyes on that level of governance, too. No toe hold for wingnuts!!!

    I now have forgotten which of us so brilliantly looked at the teabag demographics and posted that they are whiter, more male, more wealthy, and only 11% of the populace. We should take heart from that. They are not a threat to solid and principled Dems but ARE a threat to entrenched Republicans. These are the same people (perhaps actually the VERY same people) who supported George Wallce and Curtis LeMay couple of decades ago. They are containable. They are internally divided as well as divisive to the Republican party, and while they cannot be dismissed out of hand, they need to be located in time and space as the relatively small force they are.

    That said, their BEST role is finally -- FINALLY -- galvanizing the Dems to be more assertive. If you have Bayh, Nelson, Landrieu all signing on to a bill that may well include a public option, we are succeeding in rebuilding the party’s spine.

    Remember JFK -- he was a traditional Cold War Dem who morphed into a very new kind of president in his three years. The Dems themselves had to grow since they were emerging from a decade of threats from anti-communist fervor, from McCarthy and HUAC, and were as wimpy then as they are now. But the crises of the time -- civil rights, the first days of Vietnam, rotten judgments in Cuba, etc. -- pushed them to become what they were for the succeeding years. I would argue that the disaster of the Bay of Pigs led to the careful and nearly miraculous outcomes of the Missile Crisis. Kennedy totally changed the approach from military intervention to negotiation with the USSR, and nuclear holocaust was averted. (Years ago the late “Saturday Review” had an outstanding story on the process that averted war. Kennedy was brilliant in what went on, receptive to negotiation, and it may, IMHO, have contributed to his assassination.)

    I never could precisely figure out why the Dems picked Carter who was, observably, NOT a strong Dem and who did not keep the faith with traditional Dem policies or constituencies. His failure was predictable, though I still believe the Iran Contra mess proves the point that Reagan deliberately negotiated with Iran to KEEP the hostages so Carter would be defeated. There IS a word for that. Starts with T. So I don’t blame Carter entirely, but he betrayed working people time and again, supported the rise of the global economy and all that implies about selling out manufacturing and thus unions, and was the true father of deregulation that laid the ground for Reagan. I look on him as the last mod Republican, not a failed Dem.

    And from that point on until now, Dems swallowed the Kool Aid of globalization and deregulation right along with the Republicans. The only difference between the parties was around a few social programs and social values. Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter with Kansas” is spot on -- if both parties are selling out ordinary people, then the one with the ‘values’ structure will prevail. If people don’t have jobs or economic security, they will find God and go with the flow.

    Well, Dems have to come home. We have to have leaders that support the guys and gals living in small towns (you know, the “real” America of Palin’s assertion) in the South as well as North, with God and guns and no real jobs.

    We got sidetracked into trying to regulate ordinary people’s lives around their values as much as the right tries to regulate sex. We have to see a distinction between hunters supplying protein to their families and the Saturday Night specials. We have to honor people’s right to worship (not taking over the PUBLIC space) and stop the sneering and lumping of all people of faith together. We have to bring back manufacturing and other solid, middle class income jobs. We have to stop making clean and green an elite-only way of life. And -- all who know my history of commitment to women’s reproductive rights, hang on -- we DO have to understand that we can’t say this is a woman’s PRIVATE moral decision that must remain hers alone AND insist that it is ‘just’ a medical procedure that everyone should pay for with federal dollars. We just cannot have that both ways since it dishonors the deep beliefs of many other WOMEN. It’s an unnecessary wedge between women and an untenable argument we can never uphold with honor.

    I detest the lefty folks (I being one of the lefty types) who simply hate everything. We need not only a spine for the party officials but a heart. We can create a compassionate world, but it will never work if we sneer at the people who like country music, drink beer from long necks, ride in pick up trucks because they do the hard work. We can no longer throw away the auto workers and steel workers, the mechanics and machinists, the foundry and welding operators. These people and their INDUSTRIES are our survival.

    What we CAN do is meld our green perspectives with those industries. We can honor workers by helping them become owner-managers of the plants and corpoations. We can accept that if we drink chardonnay and they drink beer, that’s just a matter of taste, not character. And we can stop assuming that those people -- blue collar WHITE guys -- are not worthy of our concern. Everyone is worthy of our concern.

    Even Sarah.

    Then we will regrow the party, and more to the point, the process of democracy. We will start speaking for real Americans, not just corporate interests. And, given the SCOTUS ruling on corporate speech, we’d better declare ourselves FOR THE PEOPLE now, because it won’t be long before we will have to ask the 19th-century question:

    Which side are you on?

    • Chernynkaya says:

      We got sidetracked into trying to regulate ordinary people

      • choicelady says:

        Hi Cher -- I think I did a lousy job of explaining about WHOM I was thinking. I am not thinking of Congress so much as pissed off advocates who barrage me with ways to control the conservative forces. Much of this has nothing to do with religion. Everyone with a hobby horse (as opposed to a genuine concern) believes those who are different must be controlled! And the Left can be as awful as the Right in these regards.

        I get inundated with demands that I support legislation or policies to:

        Take away ALL guns, even rifles for hunting, because a) hunting is wrong and we should all be vegan b) guns never have a justifiable use c) all guns are equally bad and someone could use a rifle instead of a Saturday night special d) all gun owners are scary people who cannot be trusted. (I am not making this up -- all of these have been said to me over the years.)

        Compel all Ob/Gyn med students to do abortions or not be allowed to graduate, no exceptions.

        Force children saying silent, individual grace over lunch to stop.

        Insist that private non-profits NOT taking public dollars to accept (fill in the blank) as members, employees, whatever, no matter what the organization’s beliefs.

        And on and on. Luckily, I no longer see too much coming out of Congress from the Dem side that reinforces these kinds of reverse prejudices, but man is it hot on the ground even so! I’ve started deleting my involvement in these sorts of list serves and from people who have “the answer” to some question.

        I find absolutism pretty indefensible regardless of its origin, and we on the Dem/Left side of ADVOCACY need to keep speaking out against this “other” prejudice that too many of our allies insist is the cat’s meow.

        Sorry I did not make this clear!

        • Chernynkaya says:

          C’lady-- Thank you for clarifying your post!What you just wrote changes everything. HAHA! Those folks ARE every bit as nutz as the Right. Yikes.

          As I said, I have some sympathy for the more conservative among us. I see the non-racist, non-nativist Palin supporters (all 14 of ’em :-) ) as victims of corporate capitalism as much as the rest of us. They are fooder and refuse to the very groups they feel represents them. I understand their worries, even if I disagree with their solutions, and I also admit to a prejudice against their --to my mind-- determined ignorance. But I do get it.

          • choicelady says:

            LOL!!! Yes, I know all 14. They are my neighbors! And in their way, they are cool. Salt of the earth people just as Sarah portrays herself (which is her appeal if you don’t look too deeply.) They are victims, but they insist it’s the gummint not corporations. That I do NOT get.

            And I probably will never go to NASCAR, but I have gone to kick boxing, ice hockey, done line dancing, and actually like CW music. (I love Trisha Yearwood, wow.) I LIKE those people who work hard, have rock ribbed values, and aren’t jerks. I also LOVE the union people I know who are quite the same. These are the people who built this nation. They deserve better than the sneering contempt of the fern bar set. BTW -- I go to fern bars, too. They deserve better than the sneering disregard of people who work with their hands.

            So many people have more in common than they will allow themselves to know. Our easy dismissal of one another’s strengths and one another’s anguish has simply got to stop.

  8. Chernynkaya says:

    I apologize for posting these clips of Clinton, but, damn, he

    • Questinia says:

      Thank-you Cher for posting this. I think Clinton elegantly hits the nail on the head for describing too many elements in both parties and in the general populace.

      Too many already have their minds made up, are primarily interested in winning, and are not interested in setting up a dynamic by which engaging in a creative debate could lead to solutions. Solutions that could not be foreseen. I think it’s the “not foreseen” part that scares many people. The unforeseen inherently necessitates tolerating ambiguities and often forgoing control.

      How many people out there are able to do that?

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Questinia, I think you nailed it about the scary part of ambiguities. Exactly! I have been thinking about something a therapist said to me years ago: “If you are afraid of pain, you will never change.”

        I have come to think about this in a political/social sense. I see many on the Left unable to handle the pain of many realities involved in changing the system. I feel it too. It is painful to watch Obama not dictate what we want--so painful that many turn off, rather than have the courage to face those difficulties head on.

        I understand that, but it boils down to courage— which means heart.

        • Questinia says:

          Not to mention faith, trusting that because we ARE ultimately in control of OURSELVES, we can see through the scariness, the pain, the unforeseen.

          I think the biggest problem this nation is facing right now is a growing lack of faith. I think I am guilty of that. That last Supreme Court decision just put me over the edge.

          • Kalima says:

            Funny you should mention this, it had been on my mind too, I just didn’t want to mention it in case anyone might think that I was advocating a run on the nation’s Churches. What I mean is that many people have forgotten how to believe in anything, to have faith in anything, live their lives thinking about who will win the next basketball game and forget what real happiness is or the last time they really felt this emotion. We have been side tracked to believe that the only way we can achieve contentment is by owning things. We can analyze others but no longer feel the need to analyze ourselves because either we are afraid to or believe that we are just fine the way we are.

            Learning to understand, like or even love yourself is difficult for most of us, but I find without this, it becomes harder to understand, like and love others. Many of us have forgotten what is important for our own lives while doing for others, our lives have become complicated and we have forgotten how to dream.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            Quest-- did you get a chance to read the article i posted by Harriet Fraad?

            (WHY SO AGGRESSIVELY PASSIVE?) I didn’t write it so I can hype it :-)

            She says what you do. If you have time, check it out.

            • Questinia says:

              Yes, I did. There was something I wanted to add to what she said but I can’t remember right now! Give me a few moments… oh, darn and I thought it was a good one.

            • Kalima says:

              That’s good, for a second there, I thought that you had left your stuff in my JR and I couldn’t remember your visit.
              Flap off!

            • Questinia says:

              I forgot I had a junk room too until you reminded me!

            • Kalima says:

              πŸ˜† You have a JR too, I had forgotten.

              By the time I find them, I’ll be old and doddery with some kind soul having to prop me up so that I can type.

            • Questinia says:

              I know your notes are in the junk room, Kalima. Have faith they’re in there. I personally have faith that everything I’ve ever lost is somehow, somewhere in the junk room.

            • Kalima says:

              Sounds like my notes on my life here in Japan, you’d think we were living in Hef’s mansion instead of a “normal” sized Japanese house. If we knock down any more walls to gain more space, we will be living in the street outside.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Questinia! πŸ˜†

            • Questinia says:

              When I got stoned and found the true meaning of life, I had the good sense to write it down. Unfortunately, I usually forgot where!

            • Chernynkaya says:

              :-) It’s always the good ones that get away!

              My son (who’s grown)recently told me about how, once when he was stoned, he had a brainstorm about the meaning of life, but it vanished as fast as it came! He’s been trying to remember that insight for months now. πŸ˜†

          • AdLib says:

            Hey Q!

            I like to think of myself as cynically optimistic.

            Or faithlessly hopeful.

            Now I need to grab some lunch, maybe a vegetarian steak tartare?

    • tb92 says:

      This is a wonderful clip, and I find it very reassuring. See, as much as I want to believe in President Obama and the Democrats, I frequently find myself questioning why they do what they do. It’s uncomfortable. But Clinton’s words have reminded me that living in reality, rather than denial, means facing facts even when they’re not what you want to hear. To support the Dems without question would make me just as much an ideologue as the GOP. I prefer to be honestly uncomfortable.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Thanks TB92. That’s what the clip did for me too. And I agree with your wonderful phrase “honestly uncomfortable.”

        It’s not easy to think-- much easier to be a dittohead.

  9. nellie says:

    A very thought provoking piece, Marion.

    I think you’re perhaps a bit rough on the Dems. I’m not a Democrat — I’m an independent — but I think the party has very specific problems that are very hard to deal with.

    First, the media is not Dem friendly. Studies show that Republicans appear as guests on the talking heads programs 3 times as often as Dems. If you watch the way the GOP is treated, it’s always with kid gloves and deference — except on MSNBC where the hosts treat both sides the way journalists are supposed to treat politicians.

    News coverage is no better. Dems routinely get slammed for the same actions that are painted as reasonable or even laudable when at the hands of the GOP. I think most Dems are oblivious to this — which is another problem.

    Second, there are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing in the party. And I have to say, Bayh is one of those people. Look at the WAY he left — waiting until there was no time for the PEOPLE of Indiana to have a say in who their Democratic nominee would be. That is not the action of someone who cares about the public. That is the action of a royalist — someone who thinks the people are too stupid to govern themselves.

    There’s nothing about being a Democrat that prevents people from being paid off by lobbyists. As long as there’s so much money allowed to flow into politics — and thanks SCOTUS for making this problem even worse — we’re always going to have to wonder whose side these folks are really on.

    Third, the Dems are, for the most part, serious about governance. These are serious people. And when they talk about government, they sound serious. That comes off as elite, boring, intellectual, distant, aloof — but this is the way serious people sound. We’ve been so dumbed down by television hacks, we have forgotten how people are supposed to sound when they talk about serious topics.

    I’m always struck by the level of intelligence and decorum when I look at old news clips of political discussions from the 50s and 60s. The difference is stunning. I don’t know when we became a country that only pays attention to people who act like cartoons. (Sarah Palin being the latest best example of this.)

    My complaints with the Dems relate mostly to the fact that it takes them too long to believe what people tell them. The back and forth with the public option is a perfect illustration. The voters expressed themselves pretty clearly in 2006 and 2008, but the Dems still don’t believe what’s right in front of their eyes. They’re stuck in the D.C. bubble of pollsters and consultants. They’re paying too much attention to media hacks. And they’re not using the common sense they were born with.

    Perhaps democratic voters are too reactive, as you say. But I think all voters are reactive. And in our current environment of bad money and bad media, when you have two parties — one interested in governance and the other only interested in politics — the party genuinely trying to govern is going to be at a disadvantage. And always will be until the voters get a whole lot more interested in policy and how their government works.

  10. Chernynkaya says:

    Bill Clinton, who knows a thing or two about voter backlash:

  11. AdLib says:

    Another very thoughtful article, Marion!

    I would propose that with regard to general sentiment, all elections are knee-jerk. You focus on the Dems but look at the Repubs too.

    Nixon was elected in a backlash against the passage of The Civil Rights bill. Reagan was elected in response to Carter’s perceived weakness on the Iranian hostage crisis. Bush was elected in response to public’s distaste at Clinton/Lewinsky and impeachment.

    (An aside…what a pathetically naive time. It is sadly amusing to think that Repubs could impeach Clinton for lying about a personal affair, something that impacted only his marriage and yet Bush and Cheney lied to start wars that have killed tens of thousands and steal Constitutional rights from all Americans and holding them responsible was and is unthinkable. Just imagine if Americans could have had a glimpse at the future after a Bush presidency, the destruction of major cities and our economy…maybe trying to hide an affair but having a booming economy wasn’t so bad?).

    As you describe, America appears more as a reactive democracy, not a pro-active democracy. The majority seems to vote for people who run in opposition to the “jerk” currently in office.

    And indeed, that is the problem. Was the better choice Al Gore or George Bush? That didn’t matter, what mattered is that Bush would bring “dignity and respect” back to the White House…not like that asshole who was currently in the WH, right America?

    I think we’ve seen how “smart” it is, thinking with your knees, but the majority doesn’t learn the big picture truth on this from its mistakes, it just seems to see it made a mistake in individual circumstances.

    Even in Dem primaries, Howard Dean was the Obama of that primary. He had an energized youth and internet base, he was (until he was ahead in polls and started playing it too safe) very vocal as a critic of Repub and Dem policies that were not progressive…but he made a funny yell and the MSM told us that we shouldn’t consider him seriously anymore because of it so we knee-jerked away from him.

    Could Dean have beat Bush? Possibly, seeing Dean debate with Bush would have been great. Would Dean have conceded as quickly as Kerry in OH despite the huge irregularities? Maybe, maybe not. The truth is that the most committed progressive who was for change 4 years before Obama was rejected by knee-jerk thinking, not due to policy differences.

    Politics IS knee-jerk. The public reacts to things by “sending messages” like Scott Brown’s election. They don’t consider, “Even though I’m mad at DC, with only 59 votes the Dems won’t be able to overcome the ever-present filibusters by the GOP and gridlock for the next 3 years will be far more likely in most cases than any “change”, which is what I want.”

    And as you say, that knee-jerk mentality leads naturally to fragging fellow Dems and as we’ve seen, make an Olympic sport of Dems attacking Obama.

    Do these knee-jerk Dems consider what life under a President Romney would be like? No, because their reactions are not considered but are indeed knee-jerk.

    How much of Dems attacking Obama helped lose Dems the 60th vote in the Senate? Did that get them closer to what they’re pissed off about not getting or farther away?

    Vision is the antithesis of knee-jerk thinking. Making decisions that are best in the long run is a totally different mindset than purely reacting to whatever upsets one at a particular moment in time.

    In the long run, it actually hands decision making away. For example, if the MSM can whip up enough people against Obama, the Dems, whatever and the election this year is narrowly about “sending a message” or just hating them instead of considering who would be put in power instead, then people will get the government that the wealthy and powerful have convinced them they deserve.

      • AdLib says:

        IF…and that is a big “if”, the MSM didn’t find another bullshit way to disqualify him in the eyes of the public, I think Dean could have rallied an even more enthusiastic vote than Kerry and could have won.

        And honestly, if one reads all of the indisputable reports about electoral inconsistencies in OH, one is left with the unfortunate possibility that had he contested it and demanded a recount, Kerry might have won OH and the presidency.

        As for turning against a candidate for the way he yelled to rally his supporters…that was and remains insane.

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