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Smedley Butler On March - 13 - 2011

Smedley Butler
Crusader, Contrarian, Curmudgeon

I see a lot of people laying the blame for the events in Wisconsin at the feet of the voters whose low turnout at the polls is said to have brought Scott Walker and his ilk into power. This is very wrong and in fact a very good case can be made for reaching a very different and diametrically opposed conclusion.

I believe the a strong connection can be made between the events in Wisconsin and loyal Democrats voting in candidates that represent neither themselves or what most believe to be the ideals and principals of the Democratic Party.

Blaming rank and file Democrats for not showing their support for a party they feel is not representing them is the flip side of a page right out of the GOP playbook.  Who’s responsible for today’s economic misery and chaos? The GOP says blame homeowners, union members and schoolteachers. The Democrats say blame homeowners, union members and schoolteachers…they should have voted for the lesser of two evils.

Neither pins the tail on the ass in charge both lay the blame on the citizens they purport to represent. The blame in both cases is squarely on failure of leadership to represent their constituencies.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that many Democrats and at this point likely a growing number of Republican voters feel they didn’t get exactly what they thought they were voting for in recent elections. Many who voted did not do so out of support for their candidate party’s candidate but out of fear of a worse alternative to an unsavory choice.

The wellspring of our troubles is clear, Corporate cash and influence exerting a tidal pull to the right on both the GOP and Democratic Party.  Democratic Party leaders have failed to resist the lure of corporate largess. Can you say the same to an even greater degree of the GOP? Of course but at this point in time the GOP doesn’t even pay lip service to the notion of representing little other than corporate concerns.

Any sort of non-violent political change is easiest with party representation. Progressive labor and liberal policies are majority viewpoints. The first step to regaining some measure of political control of our own country is to allow and promote progressive representation in the Democratic Party.

The rightward drift of the Democratic Party is not the fault of unmotivated coach potato progressives or the petulant “professional left” demanding standards and accountability it’s a failure of leadership to take the high road keep their hands out of the cookie jar. The result is that the Democratic Party asks its constituency to engage in a never-ending cycle of vote right to go left, rinse, repeat.

Has this helped or hurt the progressive cause? The entire country has swung violently to the right not only because of an aggressive insurgent T-party but because up until possibly the present there has been no organized identifiable progressive movement to counter corporate influence within the Democratic party or without for the disenfranchised to rally around.

The most promising opportunity for political representation is the possibility that Progressive-labor will form an identifiable faction within the Democratic Party to challenge the status quo. This seems a strong possibility at this time. Someone’s going to realize that instead of the usual starting point of a politician seeking a sizable constituency there is a majority constituency seeking representation.

Reform will not be brought about by denial. Seeking to shift responsibility for a concerted national attack on labor rights, civil liberties and Democracy to “folks who should have voted” is not the answer. The answer is found by questioning what went so horribly wrong in 2008. How did a sweeping progressive public mandate, majority in both houses and control of the executive branch turn into a dispirited route in two short years? The very short answer is that people discovered they’d elected DINO’s and voiced their displeasure by choosing not to support them.

The Democrats have come so far right the GOP platform of Eisenhower’s time seems far left in many respects so far in fact there is an identifiable conservative wing “Blue Dogs” within the party yet no progressive analog. The cold truth is failure to pass progressive legislation and in fact passing a GOP wish list has more to do with conservative Blue Dog’s than obstructionist Republicans.

Just trying to motivate people to come to the polls in a show of party support isn’t enough and in fact may be counter productive. A progressive faction within the Democratic Party would provide a mechanism to facilitate a Republican return program so Blue Dogs can be successfully repatriated to their homeland in the big tent by providing support for progressive candidates at the primary level and beyond.

If your views represent the peoples they will come and vote. If your actions tell them you’ve aligned yourself with the will of the people they will return to vote again. .

Written by Smedley Butler

I wasn't always Smedley Butler and frankly quiet surprised to discover my true identify after reading an interview with JZ Knight (Who "channels" Ramatha the spirit warrior.) and getting in touch with the "inner" Smedley. I haven't changed much over the years since the great depression and still believe it's my calling to support the causes of truth and justice by informing the public. I'm well qualified to write on almost any subject and provide documentation to this effect via virtually any Photoshop-able Diploma. Please feel to contact me with any story you have to tell, axe to grind or offer of employment in return for cash or trade*. *Discount meal coupons may be acceptable as trade depending on how hungry I am.

86 Responses so far.

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  1. Abbyrose86 says:

    I really found all the comments on this thread very thought provoking and after having read them all, I am willing to join into the conversation.

    I think there are elements on the left that aren’t genuine and who are using the divide for their own personal gain. I also think that the voters, as a whole, should take most of the blame for the mess we currently find ourselves in all over the nation, AS most American voters ARE apathetic and utterly removed from the political process.
    As a result there really is only a SMALL minority who are determining ALL elections and thus the legislation pursued and enacted by our leaders.

    The right KNOWS they only have to gain a majority of those who ACTUALLY vote to win and thus pursue their agenda. SO, let’s use numbers as a guide. If only 40% of voters vote…in a mid term election, than the RIGHT knows it only needs to appeal to 21% of those voters to WIN. Which is VERY doable. As the far right, tend to Vote in ALL elections more so than the far left. SO they just need to get those on the fence, to join their side and THEY win.

    The left doesn’t seem to be as pragmatic or as honest about the numbers necessary to win. In addition, the left too often shoots themselves in the foot, in the political process by ineffective MARKETING and sales techniques. WHILE it is admirable that they point to statistics and lengthy arguments, to try and get ALL the facts across…the problem IS the voters aren’t listening. THEY tune out most of the lengthy diatribes and factual analysis. PEOPLE want simplicity and catchy quips. They don’t want ALL the relevant details. Truly they don’t. MARKETING 101.

    I’ve been a business woman for years…and I am a damn good sales woman and marketeer. I DO ascribe to the tenets of ethical sales and marketing. HOWEVER, I also understand the need to KEEP it SIMPLE STUPID. THE KISS principle WORKS, it really does. Most buyers aren’t interested in all the details…they just want the brass tacks, the bottom line. Is that right of buyers? I tend to think not…but it is reality. All business spends a FRIGGIN fortune on research and marketing to determine WHAT gets people motivated to buy. There are many different types of personality types and KNOWING how to appeal to those personality types is the sign of a good sales person and good marketing strategy.

    The far left DOES appeal to those who like facts and lengthy analysis as well an empathetic appeal. THAT tactic DOES work with MOST of the base, but not all and it DOESN’T work AT all with other personality types and those on the fringes or independents.

    A good marketing strategy needs to APPEAL to the masses and MOST personality types. THAT is part of the problem with the LEFT, bad marketing and lack of understanding of those with different perspectives that MAY or MAY not subscribe to the ideals of the left.

    Another issue, I think progressives face, is they don’t spend enough time REALLY trying to get to know their opposition and what motives THEM. Understanding the opposition and those who don’t have a firm opinion, is crucial to effectively selling any concept.

    THE left is HORRIBLE at employing business concepts in their political campaigns, both for gaining support for individual candidates AND for policy initiatives.

    Now, I’m not just bitching about the the most recent election but all the elections of the last 30 years, since Reagan. I think the electorate has to take a big part of the blame, and the LEFT has to ACCEPT responsibility for its shortcomings AND acknowledge where it goes wrong in selling it’s message.

    Unfortunately, as you mentioned in one of your posts on this thread, Smedley, low voter turnout IS a problem in this nation and especially for the left. The left often DOES show it’s displeasure with the system by NOT voting, which I think is a mistake. AND I’m not just talking about not voting in general elections but in primaries. THEY also don’t put their money where their mouths are…like those on the right and far right tend to do, by supporting VIABLE candidates financially.

    Viable, ELECTABLE candidates are needed, and need to get the party VOTE. WE, on the left, TOO often ‘split the vote’ by not be pragmatic and playing politics well. WE often allow our ideals to supersede political REALITIES.

    The far right is able to be successful in this endeavor because they play the GAME better and understand STRATEGY better. I swear, does NO one on the left, have a business acumen or play chess?

    It doesn’t seem that many on the left understand POLITICS is a game of strategy. Whether WE on the left like it or not. It is a power struggle and in many ways is LIKE business, in that selling and marketing the message to the masses is KEY to a political parties long term survival and ability to win support. Politics can be complex, as it deals with many variables. There are a variety at issues at play at all times. Economics, sociology, psychology, culture, history, biases, human emotion and behavior, to name but a few. Those who are most effective and thus WIN, understand the complexities and realize it’s not just about their ideals.

    • Smedley Butler says:

      A lot of the talk here of Complexity, and Sloganeering has motivated me to put these on my writing to do list with a bullet.

      The phrase “political reality” is one I associate with a PR maneuver to excuse inaction and is widely used to dismiss things contrary to the Corporate agenda. I’ll try to work that and some others into a post as this topic seems quite relevant and worthy of discussion.

      I couldn’t resist “political reality” but that’s all I’m saying until I write someth8ing up.

      That’s it, no more.

      Tic a lock, I’ll… be quite now.

    • Sabreen60 says:

      Abby, I agree. Especially about marketing. Sometimes things that are right in front of you are missed. The left needs people who write short messages for greeting cards to produce TV ads. Or people who write jingles for a living. Seriously. The left seems unable to come up with catchy one-liners. Unfortunately, we do live in a time of sound bites and instant gratification. Most people are not political junkies. Unless some politician makes an extreme move as Walker did, and thousands of people protest -- people don’t know about it. Ask any person on the street what they think about the law Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the Repubs passed and they won’t have a clue.

      But not only do we have a messaging problem, we don’t have Dems on the tube. Or the ones that do show up are too soft spoken. We need some fire from our Dem Reps.

  2. whatsthatsound says:

    Smedley, I just want to say that I think you are debating extremely well here, and that is in no way meant to disparage those with whom you are debating. Though I don’t agree with everything you say (or more accurately, I acknowledge the validity of the arguments against your post -- in my world both sides CAN be right :) ), I admire the way you address every point, keep a level and respectful tone, and basically stand up for your thesis in a way that shows that you didn’t just come up with this idea overnight -- that you are writing about this because you have THOUGHT about it so much. I learn a lot by observing how you respond to a negative critique of your ideas.

    • Smedley Butler says:

      LOL I can be just a snippy and persnickety as anyone. i try and sometimes fail to curb my combative tendencies. I try to take some advice offered before and here again by Cher to try and provide a few solutions to go along with griping about problems.

      I try to keep in mind that others are as impassioned about their beliefs as myself. ChoiceLady and I are having a multi round brawl in this thread; do I take it personally? Hell No! I wish we could meet up and debate because there is more to be learned from conflicting points of view that listening to the choir sing.

      I have thought about these things a lot in the years since my first political experience where I had the pleasure of observing on a first hand basis how Mass. Democratic Party leader Micky Williamson led her state to the only victory in a lop sided 49 state defeat. She knew how to build a coalition!

      Believe me I know I can improve the way I respond to criticism. I also believe that if your not getting criticized, trolled and receiving occasional death threats in your e-mail you ain’t doing it right. :)

      • whatsthatsound says:

        I think it’s a very interesting discussion you two are having. Choicelady is an exceptional communicator and also someone who “walks” even better than she “talks”. I always value what she has to say. I have to say that I am learning from you both, and really do feel, from a distance, that you are both right. You both have, and argue well for, defensible positions that have come through hard earned wisdom.

  3. Chernynkaya says:

    I just got this email from Sen Sherrod Brown of Ohio. He sent out a survey to his constituents a while ago, asking to prioritize their concerns. These are the results:


    It’s not scientific; it’s self-selecting. But I believe it is representative of most of the country. Progressives need to look around and realize that we represent about 20% if the electorate. Sorry about that--it’s depressing. But if you ignore what people like these voters think are important, and therefore believe that Obama should listen to the mostly to the Left--well, can you say President Romney?

    • Smedley Butler says:

      I’m a little slow and don’t understand exactly how to derive that only 20% of voters represent progressive and independent progressive issue voters from the graph above.

      It doesn’t seem all that depressing. Deficit, Jobs, protecting medicare, affordable health care, tax reform and at least some part of the somewhat popular “other” are progressive issues. I’m glad people have an interest in them.

      On a variety of high interest issues polling asking about related progressive solutions seems to show support for these options. No reason for sadness.

      As dead Generals go, I’m not a big fan of George McClellan the Pottsylvania Creeper who constantly blamed his inaction on misjudging his opponents strength. His opponent loved to put on shows for him marching the same troops around and around to give the illusion of numbers. Today we call these circles Corporate spin.

  4. Dbos says:

    don’t know smed you explained but “the entire country swung right because o the tea people and no identifiable progressive leadership” I would say its more because the monied interests own all the means of communication and they control the message to lots of simplistic scared busy people;the propagandists are winning

    • Sabreen60 says:

      Absolutely the Cons control the message. I don’t watch Sunday morning talk shows, but based on what I’ve read the majority of the interviewees are Repubs -- and so are hosts. There was absolutely NOTHING on the news about WI over the weekend. No video of the 100,000 protesters or the tractors. How anyone can still believe in the myth of the “liberal media” is beyond me.

  5. Sabreen60 says:

    Many disgruntled progressives sat home. Ed Schultz advised his listeners NOT to vote. Who does that? The Professional Left constantly denigrated the President and the Democrats because they were not moving fast enough or they didn’t move far enough to the left. Like it or not we have Blue Dogs in the Congress. These folks represent conservative districts or states. Granted, if appears that some Blue Dogs didn’t listen to their constituents on at least one issue -- the public option.

    I visit several “far left” web sites and frankly the immaturity of the comments is astounding. They ascribe simplistic solutions to complex problems. It appears that all they know is that they want what they want and they want it NOW.

    You didn’t mention President Obama by name, but your inference was more than clear. President Obama never sold himself as “far left”. I’m not going to go into everything that may or may not be disappointing about President Obama. Personally, my feet were firmly planted on the ground in the voting booth. I didn’t put him on a pedestal and I understood that the very real possibility exist that what a candidate says and what may transpire once they have to govern can be different.

    We’ve had this conversation here before and I won’t repeat what I’ve said in the past -- except to state that major legislation usually occurs incrementally. Too many progressives seem not to understand this is how it happens in a democracy. It’s messy.

    • Smedley Butler says:

      “We’ve had this conversation here before and I won’t repeat what I’ve said in the past – except to state that major legislation usually occurs incrementally. Too many progressives seem not to understand this is how it happens in a democracy. It’s messy.”

      Politics and Geology are similar in this way Gradualism is not the sole mechanism of change from time to time the ground shifts rapidly on both the Terrestrial and Political Landscape. The cause is much the same as well the release of pent up stress.

      Thing can happen fast and do in the last few decades we have had a lot of stuff crammed down our throats at times seemingly overnight. I hope and believe that rapid positive change is possible as well. If you deny the possibility low expectations create a self fulfilling prophecy.

    • KQuark says:

      Great points.

      “Who does that?” LOSERS who will never understand what it takes to move the political center of this country.

    • escribacat says:

      What a great post, Sabreen. I don’t watch Ed Schultz and I am really surprised and disappointed to read that he advised his viewers (listeners?) not to vote. What a jerk.

  6. KillgoreTrout says:

    Smedley, I don’t disagree completely, but I simply cannot give the dems who stayed home on election day a pass. I remember debates (arguments)about this very same thing in the several months prior to the midterms.
    Those who were dissatisfied with Obama said they would not vote, or they would vote independent, as a way of showing Obama how disappointed they were. I never understood that position. Did they actually believe that GOP/TP candidates would be better? The midterms were not even about Obama and I tried to get these people to see that. They wouldn’t.
    Much of what you say is quite true, but the spoiled, recalcitrant childlike attitude of these non-voters did help these GOP/TP creeps regain many seats and some governorships.

    • Smedley Butler says:

      I will not berate or belittle those people or question their patriotism. When GOP voters have failed to turn out for unsavory candidates I didn’t do any of the above either I respected their choice. I respect the choice of the Wisconsin 14 not to vote in protest although the bill still moved forward and the average citizens to the same degree.

      The rightward course of American leadership over the preceding decades is much discussed and undeniable. I have never heard a clear cognizant argument that explains how voting right wing Blue Dog candidates into office then showing support and preserving their incumbency will return politics to the center of spectrum.

      I’m saying instead of looking at the negative consequences and casting aspersion on Democrats natural constituents who stayed home in protest. Perhaps we should look at the leadership of the party, particularly those in and associated with the senate and executive branch. This is who progressive and issue voters are most unhappy with and their displeasure is not limited to those who stayed home.

      Electing the guy who has been spoken of as “democratic candidates best friend” recently may have been a second chance at redemption by energizing progressive voters. I’d say there’s a good possibility there are a number of folks who didn’t vote in the mid terms in those crowds around the nation.

      The way to capitalize on this isn’t to dismiss them it’s to give them a home in a progressive party faction and keep them engaged by promoting a progressive agenda.

    • coveark says:

      I have to totally agree. You need to smart enough to realize who the possible winners are if you DO NOT vote and what they represent. Now as you say the creeps stepped up and anyone who did not vote because they were in a snit, or voted against incumbents just because……..worked for the GOPTP whether they thought so or not. I tried to tell them also. These ‘people’ and I use the term loosely, that came into office are Socially Vicious and now they supposidly represent us. They do not even know us.

      • KillgoreTrout says:

        You’re right coveark. They have no idea how the middle class and poor people live on a day to day basis. Either that, or they just don’t give a shit.

        • jkkFL says:

          ‘Don’t give a shit’ resonates with me.
          Why should they?
          Nothing about our lives impact them in any way. Until it does, they won’t care.

  7. jkkFL says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth..had they been there!
    For a year or so, I’ve been wondering why liberal/progerssive has been equated to leper.
    I get email from ‘Bold Progressives'(3or 4 times a day some days-grr) and they don’t seem to have any trouble rounding up support, or money, to support causes.
    Why have so called ‘progressives’ gone underground? If someone calls me a lib or liberal- I thank them! You’d be surprised how many of them shut up and leave me alone.
    I am also glad to hear people get over the meme of ‘you get what you vote for’
    Not true. Scott took FL by barely 1%. No fight- no mention of recount- no dismay over thousands of voted being disqualified in West Palm- a poor, ethnic suburb that votes Democratic historically.
    This week the AG of FL revoked all repatriation of felons- setting up difficult standards for repatriation- because prisoners historically vote Democratic!
    None of this has anything to do with how we voted, but everything to do with the guys with the money.
    Progressives need to stand up and reclaim their ground.

  8. Marion says:

    Funny enough, on this week’s Real Time, the most apt assessment of this situation was given by a Republican ex-Congressman: People aren’t voting with their wallets; they’re voting (or their not voting) on cultural issues. Right or Left, that sucks.

    • Khirad says:

      I was surprised at his candor when he said that.

      Oh, and Keith Ellison was on. Co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. Analog to the Blue Dogs, albeit less influential (at the time).

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Marion, that is too simplistic. Voters act on any number of reasons--“reason” aside. Every day, some Repub tells us what they insist the voters “want”--and the same can be said for the self-proclaimed pundits in the Left. Funny how they all see The Voters in their own image. And for their own agendas.

    • choicelady says:

      I’m not sure he’s right -- the GOP claimed that people had their knickers in a major twist over “the Deficit”. Now that the GOP is actually NOT interested in the deficit, they are back to their old sibboleths -- VALUES. The leadership cannot bring themselves to defund things THEY want (they have more pork than almost anyone) so we’re back to hitting DOMA, de-financing family planning, etc. in the hope that the Baggers will get on the traditional train.

      People who observe the win see that the GOP gain was very broad and very shallow, so it’s NOT a mandate but a streak of luck that the pissy liberals sat it out. I think Baggers who are now hearing about “cuts to Medicare” and “cuts in Social Security” from both the old farts such as Simpson AND the Baggers are suddenly scared.

      Being angry is not a policy. It’s an emotion. In the Midwest and across the country with US Uncut, there is now a policy: “Chop from the Top not Mom and Pop!” I think we will see two things -- mobilization of the sniffily indifferent AND recruitment of Baggers who REALLY did not know what they were voting for. Maybe not a lot of them, but “buyers’ remorse” is clearly present, and it may just turn the tide!

      We have NO need to work on the extreme right. We are working on the wobbly but good-hearted, well-meaning middle. Those are the folks who get lousy info, who get scared, who get upset, and who can vote EITHER intelligently with good outreach and information OR stupidly with rhetoric and fear tactics.

      We were not heard because WE did not speak. That’s over. New messages, new and authentic voices, new day. Our 40 years of passivity is over!

      • Buddy McCue says:

        Wow. And some people say that progressive ideas would never fit on a bumpersticker…

        “Chop from the Top not Mom and Pop!” is great. Short and to-the-point.

        • choicelady says:

          I hasten to say I did NOT make that up -- it was part of yesterday’s chants. The real people of WI made that up! Isn’t it GREAT?

          We CAN fit these things on bumper stickers! We do not HAVE to submit 41-page papers with footnotes…

  9. choicelady says:

    Many moons ago, G. William Domhoff, author of “Who Rules America” also wrote “Fat Cats and Democrats” noting the shift toward monied interests in both parties. His wife coined the term, “limousine liberals”, and it’s as true today as then.

    That said, there is NEVER a time when votes don’t outweigh money. Never. But to make that work, people have to be engaged. It is not enough JUST to vote because by that point the parties have picked the candidates, and ‘hold-your-nose-and-vote’ becomes what remains. What is required BEFORE hand is to make people’s voices heard, loudly and strongly, to both office holders AND the party. We, the so-called “progressives” don’t do that nearly enough.

    We CAN “blame” people for staying home. There is no way around the fact that decision by indecision is a statistical fact of electoral politics. The broad but shallow victories of the GOP show very clearly what happens when people don’t vote. It’s not their mandate, it’s our capitulation.

    Lest one think that a Blue Dog is NOT better than a Bagger, allow me to point out (stay with me, long timers or skip this section) that a small group of activists in the 1st CD of CA got themselves together and leaned on Mike Thompson, a Blue Dogger, to support health care reform WITH the public option that was in the House bill. It was a group of faith community people who went in force day after day, in person and by phone, FAX, and email, to his offices, all pretty remote, and told him he HAD to vote for the bill, it was the only moral position. Three weeks later, he had a front page story in the Sacramento Bee saying he’d changed his position and was supporting the bill. Up and down the state and across the country this happened. Votes were changed, views were changed. They were the only group targeting Thompson, and they WON. That’s the power of democracy in action.

    I don’t care what the issues are, the only way you change leadership is by actions at the ground level. Voting is what follows, but until people make the commitment to their own wants enough to ACT on them, nothing will change either in the actions of the office holder OR the nature of the candidates.

    Too many progressives think because Bush was an imperial president that Obama should be one, too. They think the same of congress and the senate. It’s lazy and disengaged. We cannot tweet our way to democracy -- we have to show up in person, somewhere, somehow, daily.

    Think how much more could be done with coalitions, with larger groups, with concerted and united strategies and messages. That’s what the Tea Party did, and there is NO evidence of an alternative on the progressive side until now. NOW we’re cooking! And that’s why all of us who are active have not only the right but the obligation to call out armchair whiners and grumpy no-shows at the polls and on the lines.

    You claim democracy ONLY by showing up. Always have, always will.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      C’Lady, I give you a world of credit. I wish I had your patience and your eloquence. Most times--like this-- I want to just say, “Bah!” (Or, the Yiddish equivalent: “Feh!”)

      • choicelady says:

        Feh! One of my fave words, but I NEVER learned to say it with the right nuances. WASPs lack the zip for the elegance of languages not their own. Please keep saying it FOR me!

        No matter what, it is SO useful -- especially for me dealing with allies who keep re-inventing the wheel to save their own power but not to advance the cause. Feh!

        Thank you. I feel better already!

  10. escribacat says:

    My understanding of DINOs are that these democrats were elected in what are usually red districts, and that it was only a shift to the left that gave us a democrat there instead of a republican. Your assertion that the DINOs were elected by progressives who thought they were voting for an extremely liberal candidate doesn’t ring true to me.

    I am sure that a “progressive faction in the Democrat party” would serve only one party’s purpose — and that is the republican party. My greatest hope for the 2012 election is that some teabagger will run — thus splitting the conservative vote and ensuring that the democrat gets into office again.

    • Khirad says:

      A progressive would never get elected here. The Arizona GOP is batshit insane. Yes, I’ll keep my Blue Dog, may she continue to recover.

      I don’t get that argument either.

  11. Chernynkaya says:

    Do you have any proof for your assertion that the Progressives who stayed home in 2010 had no impact on the election of the Baggers and Rightward turn of the country since then? Because I completely disagree with that claim. Change my mind.

    Obama won in 2008 by a large margin. Where were those voters in 2010? You can try to make a case for WHY they stayed home--but that’s an entirely different issue and you seem to be conflating that. If one stayed home for the Midterms they need to own up to their responsibility for this disaster. It’s the only intellectually honest thing to do.

    Frankly, your post is just more of the same disgruntalist position of many progressives that exhibits a lack of serious analysis. And beyond that, it offers no solutions. What would you have done differently? THAT is worth a discussion. This rant--not so much.

    • Smedley Butler says:

      “Do you have any proof for your assertion that the Progressives who stayed home in 2010 had no impact on the election of the Baggers and Rightward turn of the country since then? Because I completely disagree with that claim. Change my mind.”

      Your taking one frame out of a movie and expecting it to tell the story. You have to watch the whole film to understand the meaning of the frame you chose. But let’s ignore the 30-50 years of the slow march backwards from progressive viewpoints and focus on recent events we can get into the history that drove politics to the right in a bit.

      Let’s start by asking tough questions instead of starting with the observation that “people stayed home” and attributing this to “Disgruntled, lazy, latte sipping Liberals on the Professional Left” Why start there? Selfishness. I want to get the taste of Limbaugh out of my mouth.

      I agree with you about intellectual honesty let’s start with an honest question. Why Did so many stay home in 2010?

      To answer that broad question you must first answer another more specific question as well.

      Who stayed home?

      The majority of eligible voters stayed home as they often do. I don’t believe many of these folks waded through the snow to vote for Tea Party Candidates They didn’t vote for progressives either. Neither alternative fired them up enough to vote. We have the lowest voter turnout in the industrialized world. This is another topic yet an important part of the story.

      Many disgruntled Progressives stayed home. The nebulous bogeymen that as a group are said to shoulder the blame for political defeat in 2010. Who are these “Wining liberals from the professional left”? A tiny handful of pundits who criticize party policy? Progressive voters who felt the folks in general the party they handed the reins of power to failed to live up to the standards and principals they expected to be instituted? Likely some of both.

      Lastly let’s look at another large and important block of voters who seem to be conveniently left out of the discussion issue voters. I believe many progressive issue voters stayed home for lack of perceived support of the issues they advocate.


      Before I get to the next important question I would like to pause a moment and thank you for asking Cher, you said “convince me” and I’ll try to illuminate my thinking here as best I can. The question is so broad and has so many historical facets that it’s almost impossible to answer in total without writing a book so I’ll try to explore a small part here.

      The article was meant to provoke discussion of what I think is a hugely important issue, the intrusion of corporate influence into the Democratic party. The readers digest version of why I think this is such a high priority is that I don’t believe the goal of corporate America is or ever has been to destroy the Democratic party. They don’t want it gone they want to control it.


      After identifying who stayed home the question of “why” becomes easier to answer and the context of the question changes to; “Why did these folks turn out in droves in 2008 but not 2010”? The elephant in the room many seem to be ignoring is that these same folks Did turn out in 08. What happened?

      Did progressives become more petulant, more liberal, lazier and less likely to vote because they want to snuff out progressivism for undisclosed reasons out of spite? I don’t think so.

      Did Progressive in the three groups I mentioned above stay home from a sense of disenfranchisement and hopelessness because the leadership failed to deliver on what they thought they were voting to get in 2008 including but not limited to the following.

      A single payer health system as opposed to a massive give away to corporate insurance and pharmaceutical corporations. Failure to disengage from not just the two but many fronts we are fighting on world wide, Foot dragging and limited support for DODT and DOMA, the government that rode the wave of transparency not only preserving the secretive nature of preceding administrations but frantically trying to limit the flow of information by attacking and cowing whistle blowers with the authoritarian cudgel of coercive force. (ask Julian Assange or Bradley manning for a better description of the cudgel), failure to close GITMO, Failure to prosecute war criminals, not taking a firm stand against the use of torture, appointing the same corporate conservative’s to oversee Wall Street excesses that helped facilitate it, creating a huge budget deficit by giving away billions in tax breaks to uber-wealthy corporate criminals both within and without of the US, Failure to prosecute even a single executive white collar criminal or even mention the type of trust busting and monopoly breaking that must happen to ensure the existence of a middle class.

      I could make the above paragraph much longer but I’ll stop there as this seems sufficient to support my point. That being that “lazy disgruntled progressives” are not a group that is comprised of petulant progressives unhappy about seeing backwards movement, little, or no progress on ALL of the issues above as they are painted in monotone.

      They are a mixed group of those who are unhappy because the group of issues they have put on their plate at the political buffet seems unaddressed by their representatives. They are single issue voters who fall into this category because their unhappy with how their particular issue was addressed. When you have a long list of of unpopular actions taken of eschewed you produce a large volume of unhappy issue voters. And they are the first and second time voters who’s gestalt view of politics failed to galvanize them into action.

      Let’s point some fingers and lay some blame here, then talk about what can be done to facilitate positive change and move forward.

      I place the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of the leadership of Democratic Party not it’s constituents. I don’t blame GOP obstruction for this, the Democrats had a sufficient majority and a sweeping public mandate to advance progressive causes. The impediment to progressivism was corporatist Democrats many under the Blue Dog banner some whose affiliations seem skewed to the right but undeclared.

      This is yet another issue to broad to tackle here but I’m sure would be brought up in response. Briefly, the GOP didn’t take single payer off the table, they didn’t stay the hand that could have addressed many progressive issues with the stroke of a pen, prevent a majority form passing legislation to curb filibustering. or circumvent it via procedure. Their will was not weakened by a lack of popular support as evident in 2008.

      It’s not a failure of people to see positive accomplishments, it’s a failure of leadership to transmit the answers to the many question’s that derive from “With a majority and mandate why didn’t you (you’re issue here)? The answers often don’t seem inspiring, progressive or even rational. 2010 was a failed class don’t blame the students. It’s not that they won’t show up to support progressive action, they did in 2008 and they are in the streets in droves now.

      What can be done to address what I think is one of if not the most key issue of today. Advancing progressive policy in a non violent way that shifts not only the progressive but conservative spectrum left towards the progressives and the center.

      Without identifiable and Party representation non violent progress (or what some might see as regress) in moving Government leftward and centerward is near impossible and an uphill climb at best. The Two Party system is geared to ensure there are Two Party’s a stand alone progressive party seems not a viable option.

      An identifiable national party within the Democratic Party seems the best viable option. I cannot stress the word identifiable enough. People have a much greater tendency to rally round the flag if there is a flag to rally around. It must have a national presence as well, the reality is what happens in Washington effects state and local elections in a big way.

      Getting out of denial is also a high priority. it’s widely accepted that the political compass has swung far to the right.

      Blaming Progressive Liberals under the rubric “Your standards are to high and you need to compromise your principals further” is not the way to facilitate change. These folks will not be beaten with the stupid stick or motivated out of fear to vote.

      Blaming the GOP or Tea Party is not the answer either. Being reactive instead of pro-active has not served us well. I can make a fairly good case that the Tea Party would not exist had the Democratic Party not veered so far to the right. Right-wing Tea Party analogues have been around for a long time John Bircher’s, Lyndon Lauruchie’s ext. Why do they have such prominence now? The seeds only grow to trees when there is sufficient right wing soil in the valley at the right end of the political spectrum.

      Progressive leaders need a platform on which to stand and lead. A branded progressive faction would provide this platform, their visibility would allow them to challenge the old guard and move the entire party back towards it’s natural constituency. This will not be a painless move but delaying it only makes it worse and more difficult.

      History shows that repeatedly voting the lesser of two evils is not a wise course of action. It’s how we got where we are today. If you think about where we are today, right now perhaps your opinion of those who stayed home for the sake of principal would not seem so grim.

      We are looking at the best chance for a resurgent progressive movement to come together and actually effect so meaningful change to came down the pike in many years. This didn’t happen because people voted for a continuation of the slow burn that has been going on for decades.

      Look at the popularity and energy surrounding politicians that “whiny progressives” are likely to embrace. I don’t believe Alan Grayson and Dennis Kucinch would have any turn out issues were an election held today. An identifiable faction or party would allow these folks a greater bully pulpit to preach from and provide a source of progressive candidates to challenge corporate Democrats, they need to be replaced and run under the banner they belong under, the GOP.

      I urge folks to stop blaming and belittling disenfranchised and dispirited progressive voters. Stop blaming external parties such as the GOP and Tea Party for failure we not they control our destiny and stop thinking people set the bar to high. When you standing in the gutter with today’s politics the bar looks much higher than it does halfway up the hill.

      I believe that creating a national framework for progressive principals to stand on is the solution to low voter turnout and a host of issues. The Democratic Party as a whole must return to the point where it represents the center left and left it’s the responsibility of the GOP to provide representation for the right. Supporting progressive Democratic candidates will further this goal, fear based reactive support of Blue Dogs has not and will not.

      There you go Cher. That’s the best I can do on a small part of a very large topic. I’m hoping I gave enough time to the response to show that although I may be a crazy progressive I’m not a lazy progressive.

      It’s looking like my best personal option for action is to answer three more posts, publish the answers as an e-book and use the proceeds to fund my vision. :)

      • choicelady says:

        Smedley -- you’ve not been here long enough to have read my observations on health care (I read the MA bill, the CA failed bill, and all versions of the federal bill including HR676 -- AND I’m on the CA single payer state strategy group.) What pisses me off is that the press for single payer that progressives don’t ‘forgive’ was based on sheer ignorance of democracy. HR 676 had 85 votes, period. Anyone who thinks a president can strong arm more is engaging in magical thinking. The reform that DID pass is diametrically OPPOSITE of MA and the Schwarzenegger plan -- it took the formula for individual costs directly out of the CA single payer -- same scale, same rates, same coverage.

        I will holler until I turn blue that “foot dragging” on DADT and DOMA are INSANE standards. You expect a president to reverse decades of law in under TWO YEARS in the midst of a recession/depression????? Well he freaking DID it for DADT.

        It is that kind of irresponsible lack of understanding that makes democracy collapse. I am a lobbyist. I look every day at who shows up, what citizens are out there advocating, and I DO NOT SEE PROGRESSIVES EVER. Not EVER. I have asked really good legislators, and they NEVER hear from those people. NEVER.

        That is freaking lazy and utterly irresponsibile. Democracy is about VOICE. You don’t show up on your OWN behalf -- shut the F. up. Just shut UP. Because you FAILED the main test.

        Ohhhhh, poor progressives. Well everyone here IS progressive DOES show up, DOES make their voice heard. WE’re in the streets, on the corners, in the halls of the Capitol, at the district offices, at FAX machines and email and we are NOT just sending ‘click and send’ letters as if that was something. We are speaking collectively but with individual ideas. We spend the TIME that is necessary under this highly polarized society to make our wants KNOWN. And those of us who show UP? We make change. Those who do click and send letters and nothing else? Worth almost nothing.

        I am extremely radical -- but I know how the system works. And I honor it. I have to work every DAY to get my points known by legislators. And I succeed. I have changed things by the people whom I mobilize and by my own voice.

        And I freaking know the difference between the parties even between the Blue Dogs and the Tea Party and I damned well VOTE even when I don’t like someone much. Because as in 1980 -- the other side is NOT the same and is powerfully dangerous. And if progressives whine they did not see the world change overnight so they couldn’t possibly vote for someone -- F em. They ELECTED the Tea Baggers by FAILING TO VOTE.

        No one has been betrayed except working people, people living on the edge, elders and kids and college kids who are all getting their programs cut and fees raised. \

        And the people who betrayed them are narcissistic whiny sap-sucking progressives who are too freaking elitis to care about anyone but themselves. They have no skin in the game so what do THEY care about people in dire straits? And the people who are hurting deserve better allies and better behavior.

        Anyone who did not vote is just a freaking contemporary version of a Good German. They are worse than useless. They are DANGEROUS.

    • KQuark says:

      There is little use trying to dent the progressive echo chamber on this issue.

      It was a self fulfilling prophecy on the left early on to punish the Dems for not doing what progressives asked. Compound that with the media narratives of the like Teabaggers (which both left and right media played up) and historical trends and Dems stayed home.

      That’s the reality what comes after are the rationalizations.

      • Buddy McCue says:

        When so many progressives decided to punish the Democrats by staying home, they might have predicted how the media would interpret the results.

        The consensus view of the MSM is that the nation decided to turn to the Right, and that the Republicans now have a mandate to enact rightwing policy.

        Even President Obama seemed to agree with this assessment.

        What’s weird about all that, is that the consensus view of the media in the time right before the 2010 elections was that was an “enthusiasm gap.” There WAS an enthusiasm gap; that’s one of the few things the pundits were right about, but didn’t they wonder why?

        Seems to me that the takeaway message of the 2010 results should have been that the Democrats weren’t behaving progressive enough. But you won’t find any pundits on Face the Nation or Meet The Press who are willing to say THAT.

        • Smedley Butler says:

          Let’s start with single payer health care. In order to buy into what you’re saying you must first start from the perspective that this was an impossibility.

          This is a corporate perspective based on a negative interpretation of American exceptionalism and low expectations. Prosperous Democracy’s worldwide have some form of national Health care. We do not, in that sense we are exceptional. That we can have that here is not exceptional nor unreasonable. That this was taken from play by the folks who are imagined represent the progressive viewpoint seems both exceptional and unreasonable.

          Had single payer been brought to the table, advocated for strongly, shot down and replaced by this compromise bill in the face of vocal and sustained Party opposition people would not have felt nearly so disillusioned right out of the gate.

          You would think that some PR genius could have figured this out if their priority was to retain progressive energy to promote other liberal legislation. How does a huge give away to insurance and pharmaceuticals play into that?

          Foot dragging on DADT and DOMA an insane standard? Not to some who don’t buy into the wonk. DADT not being repealed by executive order on the first 90 days is insane from my perspective. Why not? The majority of senior military officials support it, the troops support it, the public support it. Everyone save the fringe right were on board at the dock yet the ship didn’t sail until the last second before low tide when the passengers were screaming go now, please go now! That’s insane.

          If the Democratic party were comprised of progressives and center left politicians DOMA would be a done deal along with of other things. Those groups didn’t hold things back In party conservative opposition was the key player.

          “It is that kind of irresponsible lack of understanding that makes democracy collapse. I am a lobbyist. I look every day at who shows up, what citizens are out there advocating, and I DO NOT SEE PROGRESSIVES EVER. Not EVER. I have asked really good legislators, and they NEVER hear from those people. NEVER.

          That is freaking lazy and utterly irresponsibile. Democracy is about VOICE. You don’t show up on your OWN behalf – shut the F. up. Just shut UP. Because you FAILED the main test.”

          I find it completely unbelievable that as a lobbyist you NEVER EVER see or hear from progressive constituents. Were you deaf to the voices in 2008, the constituency groups that advocate for each of the many progressive issues via letters and phone calls and blind to the 100’s of thousands of progressives in the streets today?

          I don’t accept your definition of Democracy as VOICE. Being told to shut up and sing is in no way indicative of Democracy.

          Democracy is a system to facilitate individual expression in the political system. Voting for a party or representative you agree with is your right, not voting for a party or candidate you don’t agree with is also your right. Without the right to not vote as a means of expression the right to vote is corrupted as well. One cannot exist in a Democracy without the other.

          You don’t think you can make a statement by withholding your vote? I’ve got 14 guys in Wisconsin that will prove you wrong.

          Lastly Telling folks to just shut the fuck up about the things that make them unhappy because they didn’t show up on their own behalf seems a little more in line with the thinking of someone who is unhappy because folks did not show on to support your beliefs not theirs. They only fail the test if you do the grading.

          These things need top be discussed not hushed up for fear of an unpopular opinion. People followed along on blind faith in party partisanship for a while this has not lead us in the direction many would like to go.

          The death of US democracy will not be because of petulant vocal progressives, it will be because the corporate takeover of BOTH parties will become complete and unchallenged.

          • choicelady says:

            BTW -- We LED progressive positions so yes, MY members who are progressive definitely DID the work on single payer and every other thing including DADT, DOMA repeal, ending farm subsidies for commodities, immigration reform, anti-war actions, etc.

            The absent voices were the secular people who never showed up to testify against Schwarzenegger’s outrageous health care bill, who absented themselves on every turn from single payer if they weren’t IN the state strategy group, who were freaking too busy to support anti-death penalty work, supplementary bills reinforcing marriage equality, and on and on and on.

            Where were they in support of CalWORKs and Medi-Cal? MIA. Poor people do not count with CA progressives if they don’t work for an organization that tackles those issues, and then they tackle ONLY those issues. Collaboration and mutual support? MIA as well.

            I don’t know one single progressive who can actually tell me what’s IN the health care reform or what the elements are to the tax agreement passed by the lame duck session. I know what they THINK is in it -- but they are all wrong and are reacting, not speaking from knowledge.

            Progressives for the most part don’t work and play well with others. That lack of collaborative work is HUGE -- and when they DO want my organization to show up, it’s for their membership building, NOT for the work per se, and they never EVER return the favor.

            There are new coalitions building that no longer will accept the messianic leadership of those who’ve always ‘been in charge’. The progressives who set agendas, dole out the money, determine the course of campaigns -- all of which have FAILED, by the way, are on the outs with real people.

            Labor, communities of color, the poor, the infirm, the progressive faith communities, ordinary folks in the LGBT movement, women’s groups (esp. from communities of color), immigrant rights groups -- we are uniting without the traditional progressives because -- gasp -- we don’t trust them. At ALL.

            You offer up new ideas -- clawbacks for corporate tax breaks with conditions unfulfilled -- and you get bupkis in support. YOu talk about developing a state bank in the time-honored progressive manner, and they look at you like you’re nuts. You talk about using federal write-downs when plants close to use as the basis of community appropriations to keep those same businesses operating as worker and community owned -- they accuse you of diverting the issue from social programs.

            Progressives do the same things over and over expecting different outcomes. When they do anything at ALL. They are almost as hostile to new ways of looking at problems as the Baggers.

            LGBT leadership blew it in CA by tackling Prop. 8 with polls and focus groups (inappropriately applied) that made them SO arrogant that they had the winning hand they paid NO attention to the Yes on 8 strategies. They blew off the communities of color AND the mainline faith community that was SOLIDLY in their corner saying “those people” had nothing to say. WRONG. We had EVERYTHING to add to the mix. At the same time No on 8 was going down the drain, we were working No on 4 (parental notification on minors’ abortions) with special mailers, the presence of our faith leaders in ads, clergy who spoke Spanish, etc. We WON No on 4 exactly by the same percentage No on 8 LOST. We did not have the resources to do the same work on our own dime -- and the choice community helped fund our work in precisely the same communities that the LGBT work was going on so uselessly exclusing us and our efforts. SAme population. Same “hot button” issues of sexual justice. Massively different outcomes.

            Thanks, Progressives for screwing THAT up from sheer arrogance.

            If you think progressive don’t show up because, sob, they don’t get reflected in policy -- then how do you think ANYONE gets reflected in policy? YOU DO show up and make clear what you want.

            Sorry -- democracy does not hand you wins or even issues. Build the momentum until it’s impossible to deny. But if you don’t do that and you don’t collaborate and you don’t work and don’t try, then don’t complain when the voices that ARE heard are not yours.

            I BEAT Schwarzenegger. I was the only lobbyist actively opposing his health care debacle. Why did I win? Because I had over 200,000 people at every district office pounding on legislators NOT to pass that mess. That’s why.

            We showed up. Where was everyone else? If it were not for us, that excresence would have passed. And you can go ask the President Pro Tem of the CA Senate if that’s not true. He will confirm what I say.

            Democracy is speaking out, showing up. Not at the 11th hour -- all along the way.

            • Smedley Butler says:

              It still confuses me that you’ve several times mentioned that you never hear from progressives on one hand yet advocate their causes on the other. This aside…

              You’re mixing apples and chainsaws as a lobbyist you should understand the difference between issue advocacy groups and umbrella advocacy groups the largest and perhaps most inclusive of these being political parties.

              Here you say:
              The absent voices were the secular people who never showed up to testify against Schwarzenegger’s outrageous health care bill, who absented themselves on every turn from single payer if they weren’t IN the state strategy group, who were freaking too busy to support anti-death penalty work, supplementary bills reinforcing marriage equality, and on and on and on.”

              Here you’re angry because issue advocacy groups didn’t rally to support your particular issue. That’s not their function you’re asking them to devote time and resources under the umbrella of their constituents who are concerned about their particular issue and advocate for your issue. If only those misguided folks would stop advocating the wrong thing (their thing) and devote their time and energy to advocate the right thing (your thing).

              I suppose part of the failure can be attributed to their just being to stubborn arrogant whiny and self centered to understand how your thing helps promote their thing. This is surely their fault for being stupid, petulant and childish and not at all related to a failure to communicate in a manner that informs and engages them to facilitate forming lasting political alliances.

              It also seems a dam shame that people were to stupid petulant ect. to understand why their particular constituency should join with after they are left or locked out of leadership decisions via leadership representation. Of course their particular issue advocacy groups likely exist because the folks in them feel that they a under or unrepresentative by leadership in the larger political arena but PETA should understand why they should support your issue (say corporate taxation) yet have no leadership voice to advocate for their issue.

              I blame this failure to follow on the collective stupidity of all the groups you mentioned above not a failure of networking skills and willingness to provide inclusive leadership.

              Issue advocacy groups are not generally umbrella organizations encompassing a particular ideology this is the function of political parties who encompass a group of issues. By including these folks in leadership and decision-making they achieve across the board success. In many ways the degree of their success is determined by their willingness to expand their group by including more various constituencies that are not diametrically opposed to their overall Party viewpoints.

              Progressives issue advocacy groups are not political party’s complaining because they do not function as political parties is a lot like complaining because your toaster does not fry an egg well. If you use the toaster to make toast and the frying pan to cook eggs you will have far less complaints. If you reasonable expect issue advocacy groups to advocate particular issues and political parties to serve as umbrella organizations that encompass multiple issues you will have far less complaints.

              Berating progressives for being uncooperative, untrustworthy, ignorant elitist dangerous Nazi brown shirts who petulantly refuse to follow where you lead if they are refused a voice in leadership just doesn’t seem like a good coalition building strategy to me.

              Forming a Nation identifiable Progressive Party/Faction that represents the viewpoints of various progressive issue advocacy groups and gives them a voice direction and policy by allowing representatives of their viewpoints to actively participate in leadership and trying to be tolerant and listen to progressives with other viewpoints rather than dictate the viewpoints and priorities might be a better way to go.

              Having that viewpoint may make me one of those whiny, petulant childlike progressives who hate democracy but it’s just a cross I’ll have to bear.

          • choicelady says:

            Repealing DADT by Executive Order makes it a privilege and NOT a right. It’s scenic. It’s not substantial. Having buy in from all parties makes it stable and enduring.

            If progressives need bright, shiny objects to make them happy, then this morning’s David Brooks column (at least in the Sacramento Bee) is totally correct -- we need instant gratification, NOT enduring principles and real change. That is a recipe for disaster. Nothing good ever came from symbol and show rather than substance.

            After years in the House, HR 676, national single payer, never has had an ounce of support beyond its co-sponsors. Why? Nobody in the movement has taken a lick of action to educate the public. I KNOW this because I DO this. We talk among ourselves and think we’ve convinced everybody, but right now, even as we discuss this, the State Campaign for Single Payer in CA is LOOKING FOR A NAME for this health care plan that does not mystify mainstream voters living in Temecula. Ten years into the work -- I was one of the first to get on board -- and we don’t have a NAME????

            We passed it twice only to have Ah-nold veto it, but last year, the third try, we LOST the Assembly. Why? We never put a dime into education or lobbying. The CA bill is heading to the ballot -- without a lick of sense about how little voters understand of it. We need a signature drive because it will NOT move with legislative support -- we demand a 2/3 supermajority -- but we’re focused ONLY on the campaign, NOT on how we’re going to get on the ballot. Leadership of the campaign won’t admit that having a cozy relationship with “Jerry” is NOT enough. Democracy, especially in the screwed up world of CA, requires strategies, not just wishful thinking.

            When I listen to the shoulda-coulda-woulda arguments, I never, not even from you, get one ounce of HOW. HOW would you move national single payer when you don’t have the boots on the ground who are willing to move out of their comfort zone? “Put it on the table and work it.” Uh-huh. Fine. HOW? Until I hear strategies that include FUNDING this effort, who will do it, how it will reach Main Street, I see only more magical thinking.

            Shoulda-coulda-woulda. Insufficient and naive.

            The reason we lose is not because we have bad ideas but because we have no idea how democracy works. Or if we do, we think we should get a pass and not have to DO it.

            What you also seem unwilling to deal with is how much the existing HCR lays the ground for single payer. As with Medicare, Social Security, Civil Rights Act, the nature of American democracy is and always has been incremental. Rather than bemoan not passing 676, how can we now move toward first a public option then universality of that option. That’s how it’s done in Europe. Which, BTW, with the exception of the UK, builds single payer on private insurance…

            Because whiny progressives and liberals sat out the midterm, every gain we made is now threatened from budget cuts by the troglodyte GOP/TP members of the House. My work is now preservation rather than forward movement. I’d LIKE to keep the gains we made to press on to single payer, but nooooo. Thanks, non-voters. Instead of Pelosi, now I have Boehner. Great.

            I’m sick to death of the whining. Those of us out here pumping for the very issues you’ve said are critical NEED the help that progressives won’t give. Nope -- they’re still building new organizations, focusing on their own ego power trips, and still talking to one another but NOT to the mainstream public.

            Democracy is not won in coffee houses or over wine tastings -- and yeah, I watch all this and this IS part of the problem! Democracy is won with work. Unions know that, public employees know that, women fighting for choice issues know that, immigrants know this, communities of color know this -- so why are so many others still complaining and doing NOTHING?
            And why are the above voices left OUT of the “planning”? I have more faith in ACCE that regrouped after the “recent unpleasantness” and kept on keeping on without whining or missing a beat. I have more faith in unions than in any self-designated “progressive” entity in the US. They still have the fire in the belly and KNOW what it takes to move anything.

            Tell me HOW -- step by step -- we will win over the likely voters on any issue, especially single payer -- and then I will listen. I am IN this fight with people I love, but even from them I see only more mis-steps, more focus on organization rather than process, and more ego-driven “leadership”.

            I put my money on blue collar people, on working families, on communities of color who are doing MORE than any self-designated “progressive” to change the world. They are taking back direct democracy, fighting for their lives and know what’s important, and doing the down-and-dirty work of going door to door.

            So my message to progressives:

            Out of the armchair, onto the sidewalk!

            No work, no gain. No engagement, no victories.

            It’s up to ALL of us, NO EXCEPTIONS, to help our fellow citizens achieve support for good policies and ideas AND to make our elected leaders do what we want of them.

            Once again -- Democracy is NOT a spectator sport.

            • Smedley Butler says:

              You seem to be all over the board in your rationals for criticism of progressives so I’ll focus on this one thing in this post.

              “Repealing DADT by Executive Order makes it a privilege and NOT a right. It’s scenic. It’s not substantial. Having buy in from all parties makes it stable and enduring. ”

              I won’t be sucked in by using a transparent debating technique favored by the GOP to sway it’s minions. That being framing the debate by providing a false set of choices. “You can have apples of oranges but not both” Bullshit… I can have both.

              Repealing DADT by executive order does not prohibit it being codified via legislation. Period.

              In fact doing so pro actively would make it easier not harder to pass legislation by placing the opposition in a position where they have to gain support for repealing a policy that has broad public support.

              I can also make a fairly accurate supposition that showing support for this and other issue by taking a strong visible public stand would have had a marked positive effect on voter turnout in the mid terms.

              Please explain how executive order precludes legislation and a strong visible show of support would not have translated to additional progressives appreciative of the face of the Democratic Party advocating for a cause they support showing up at the polls.

            • whatsthatsound says:

              count me among the people who wish that you, and folks exactly like you, were running the country, c-lady!

            • choicelady says:

              Sabreen and bito -- first bito, I am so honored you put me in the same sentence with Ms. Perkins (she fought in court to keep her own name after marriage, so MS. is appropriate!) If you and I ever meet, I will try to find “that hat” she often wore. I look a tiny bit like her. The hat would be boffo.

              Sabreen -- few people want to hear what I say if it challenges the progressive status quo, however oxymoronic that seems. I’m about to go into a meeting in a couple of weeks to contemplate creating yet ANOTHER “progressive organization” -- another big money suck. What we will see is whether different voices will be in this room other than the usual self-designated leaders, whether there is anything new on the table, and whether we are all equal or if some of us are being recruited to provide slave labor to the few. It will be a small meeting I understand. I’m supposed to be “honored” to be involved -- despite the fact I guide policy issues for the largest progressive advocacy organization in CA.

              If new things develop, new energies and new coalitions built -- exciting! If not -- at least they are serving lunch.

            • Sabreen60 says:

              Wow. Choicelady, can you re-post all your comments on on this thread on every left leaning, centrist, far left and left out in the stratosphere blog? I know it would be time consuming, (or perhaps you already have), but god, people NEED to READ EVERYTHING YOU WRITE.

            • bito says:

              Sabreen, She has been educating me for years! C’lady’s comments are not to be missed. Our Mrs. Francis Perkins!

          • Smedley Butler says:

            That reply was to choicelady dammit I pasted into the wrong nest :(

        • KQuark says:

          That’s because that view is only real on the progressive side of the equation. To most of the nation I hate to tell folks here but the Dems were seen as TOO LIBERAL, especially Obama.

          That’s why Obama is adjusting to that reality.

          • Smedley Butler says:

            “To most of the nation I hate to tell folks here but the Dems were seen as TOO LIBERAL, especially Obama.”

            If you take the issues out of the box and folks can’t see the party labels you get a different picture of what they support. They like the contents just not the box.

            • Buddy McCue says:

              Smedley -- “They like the contents just not the box.”

              That’s exactly right. How do American respond on the issues themselves? Here we go:

              Should the government care for those who can’t care for themselves? 69 percent say yes.

              Should the minimum wage be increased? 77 percent agree.

              Should federal environmental regulations be enforced more strongly? 82 percent say yes.

              Should the government spend more money on developing solar and wind power? 81 percent favor that.

              and so on…

              Yet only 20-something percent are willing to say they’re liberal? The obvious conclusion from all this is that the word “liberal” has been successfully demonized, that’s all.

            • Khirad says:

              I would agree on economic issues, but you can’t say that in KQ’s part of Georgia they would jive with social liberalism.

              And thus branding and wedge issues would work in many cases anyway. That’s why there’s Blue Dogs in the first place. They’re also “fiscal conservatives” and can gum up the works, but they still are often better than a Republican (unless they’re like Senator Nelson and it’s hard to tell the difference).

          • KillgoreTrout says:

            KQ, the right wing in America today is way to the right of classic conservatism. In their eyes, anybody even slightly left of fascism is seen as being too liberal. And I don’t think that is an exaggeration.

            • KillgoreTrout says:

              KQ, then we must work to change such misconceptions. Although, in today’s media, that is a daunting task.
              We should fight any attempt to divide us and I think the demonization of the word liberal is just such an attempt.

            • KQuark says:

              The poll I posted said independents saw Dems as too liberal by 52% as well. We have to understand even if it’s only perception that’s the view most people have of Dems, especially those who vote.

          • Caru says:

            I’d refer to it as perception rather than reality.

            • KQuark says:

              I agree and have said that. But does it really mater? Perception = reality when someone goes to the polls.

          • KQuark says:

            A near-record majority of Americans believe the Democratic Party is “too liberal.” That’s according to a new Gallup poll that finds 49 percent of Americans believe Democrats have moved too far left. That number is up 10 points since 2008 and just 1 point shy of the all-time record set in 1994, when Democrats lost control of Congress. According to the poll, 38 percent now believe the Dems’ views are “about right” — a 12-point decrease since 2008.


            • Artist50 says:

              What’s so incredible is that it’s Republican propaganda -- we are way more center than back in the 60’s. Nixon would be a Democrat today -- his health plan was more left. The center has shifted and the left always loses the propaganda war -- we are terrible at it!

        • Chernynkaya says:

          That’s a good point, Buddy. Except from my POV, by the time of the Midterms the disgruntled Left was beyond reaching. Even after DADT was repealed in the lame duck--along with arms reduction, continued Unemployment benefits and other good stuff-- I saw many on the Left dismiss all that. They were past listening. They still are as far as I can tell.

          I do think Obama might have thrown the Left a bone before the midterms, but may be saw t as I did--they would only say it was too little.

          • choicelady says:

            Exactly -- when you cannot see the RADICAL difference that these past two years made in our lives because it’s not perfect, then you give up: “Obama’s dead to me” the ranters cry.

            Ridiculous. MAJOR accomplishments to over-turn FORTY YEARS of corruption and to confront the renewed power of corporations handed them in Citizens United, and all we have is WHINING because Obama is not a magician.


          • Buddy McCue says:

            Chernynkaya -- I agree with you about that disgruntled Left. They couldn’t see the good stuff that the President was doing, and many were past listening as you say. He really has accomplished a lot.

            On the other hand, I can understand the “professional Left’s” frustration sometimes. They feel as though Obama is giving credence to rightwing talking points, and that he is giving important positions to Wall Street insiders (like William Daley for example.) The President seemed to support the idea of tax cuts having a stimulating effect on the economy.

            Speaking for myself, I don’t pretend to be able to second-guess Obama’s strategy. He’s a complex and incredibly intelligent guy.

            I have mixed feelings about it all, I have to admit.

            • Sabreen60 says:

              I don’t believe for ONE Minute that President Obama believes that tax cuts have a stimulative effect on the economy. President Obama wanted tax cuts for the middle class (which he promised)and the other tax cuts for small businesses, etc. He wanted START and he wanted DADT -- I may left out some other stuff. There are progressives who would rather he had said FU to the Repubs and walked away with nothing -- rather than giving tax cuts to the rich. I’m not what of those. What I’ve found in my almost 62 years is that in a whole lot of instances you have to give up something to get something. Could the middle class really afford a tax increase? Would the LGBT community really wait indefinitely for DADT? Should the President have turned away from START. Yeah, the Rethugs held these things hostage. No doubt about it. But they knew with a Rethug majority coming through the gates, they were holding the best hand.

      • KillgoreTrout says:

        I sincerely get disgusted with this whole idea that progressives are somehow different than liberals. Liberalism IS progressive. All the progressive/liberal split is unnecessary and actually harmful to our goals. It is simply another way to divide and conquer for the right.
        I think this is a result of the very successful job that the right wing has done in demonizing the term, “liberal.”
        People should never shy away from what they believe in and represent.
        I am a liberal, and damn proud of it.

        • choicelady says:

          KT -- I think the split has some resonance. “Liberal” means living WITH the power of corporations, putting emphasis on getting material goodies out of them but NOT shifting the power base of decision making. Progressives see taking BACK power over social, political, and economic issues.

          Corporate liberals such as Soros would indeed provide living wages, health care -- even single payer -- retirement incomes, and other social welfare benefits, but they would never actually let working people participate in decisions to shut or relocate plants, what to make and how to make it, or any other such choices.

          Progressives would harness the corporations in the service of their communities and the people who work in those businesses. They would curtail pollution, and not settle for JUST material benefits.

          In 1901 the difference was summed up in the struggle of the liberal corporate sector grounded in the National Civic Federation to provide workers’ comp, and to deal with Gompers on better wages etc. in order to stave off the growing support for Debs. Now Debs was a Socialist not a Progressive, but the Progressives gravitated his direction to pin down more direct democracy -- hence the development of referendum, initiative, recall that give people DIRECT authority over law and officials. They also supported unions’ having more say over production.

          The Liberal position won out. And it has been eroded ever since.

          So no, they are not identical. Today they may be seen as gradations on a scale, but they are NOT the same.

          • KillgoreTrout says:

            choice, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

            • KillgoreTrout says:

              Without a doubt choice. I think as a liberal, I feel a bit slighted by those who refer to themselves as progressive. Somehow inferring that being a liberal is not good enough, or has less of a desire for positive change.
              I’m probably making too much of a big deal about it.

            • choicelady says:

              Hi KT -- I think it’s entirely OK for us to redeem the two words today. I’m just explaining where some of the differences originated. I have no problem with either LIBERAL (yeah -- why was that an embarrassment?) or PROGRESSIVE. Either way is a good way to distinguish ourselves from the corporate/wealthy sycophants.

        • Artist50 says:

          But we all know that is still a four letter word in America which makes me wonder if the tried to replace it with progressive. Isn’t it interesting that AH and Ed leading the descension against Obama in 2010 are both former Republicans?

          • KillgoreTrout says:

            Artist, I simply DO NOT like words that blur the definitions of other words. The right is going to demonize us, no matter what we call ourselves.
            We should never back down from the right or be intimidated by their definitions of us. If we do, then that means that the right has won another battle in the war of misleading commentary and truthfulness.

            • Artist50 says:

              I agree and think too many Liberals haven’t stood tall and stated that’s what they were when the RW was bashing us. The more you say fuck the less shocking it is. Liberal is the same -- I think we should have stood firm but many are afraid to call themselves that.

        • KQuark says:

          I didn’t mean to imply they were different. Sorry if I sounded like they were.

          I’m really not that comfortable with any label for myself to be honest. I think there is going forward or backwards.

          • KillgoreTrout says:

            KQ, I didn’t mean you specifically. But just from participating on discussion boards, I have seen far too many people make the distinction and I think it is harmful.
            We all (liberals) want progress and not be afraid of seeming, “too liberal.” Especially considering the fact that very few, or any of us, is too liberal.
            I cringe when people refer to, “the far left.” There is no far left in America these days. Not in my opinion, anyway.

          • Caru says:

            Or round and round in circles.

        • Buddy McCue says:

          Me too (raises hand.)

          Proud liberal here.

          • choicelady says:

            Proud Progressive here! I still love you, and hope you love me? (Though since we have never even talked, I’ll settle for respect. Does that work?)

            • KillgoreTrout says:

              choice, in all due respect, your comment exemplifies what I have been saying.
              There should be no need for such a distinction. I don’t believe there is a real difference.
              My argument may seem a bit trivial, but we need fewer lines drawn instead of more.
              But, I realize the term, “progressive,” is here to stay, I am just uncomfortable that, “our side,” has been divided into two separate groups.

            • Buddy McCue says:

              Sure does.

  12. ADONAI says:

    Stupid, selfish politicians are elected by stupid, selfish people. If we want a better government, we need better people.

    And you are so right when you say this does not fall on the people who didn’t vote. It falls on the people who did vote. If people got “tricked” because they merely saw a (D) in front of the name and voted, I have no sympathy or understanding for them.

    It’s a 2 Party system and if no one cares enough to change that, then they deserve what they get. It’s easy to “own Congress” when you know the people will keep re-electing them regardless of their success or failure, simply for the letter in front of their name.

    If this country falls, if we stumble and lose our way, we will have no one to blame but ourselves. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

  13. Buddy McCue says:

    You say “there has been no organized identifiable progressive movement to counter corporate influence within the Democratic party…” That’s depressing, but true.

    The fact that corporate influence has so much sway over our national politics is a real disadvantage that any progressive movement must face. It’s an uphill playing field.

    The Republicans seem to have few principled conservatives anymore, so their agenda has become overwhelmingly industry-friendly. One might even call them “The Corporate Party.” This gives them a built-in advantage in the mainstream media, because the media has become so consolidated that only a few giant conglomerates control the message.

    That’s probably why extremely industry-friendly Democrats are almost always called “moderates” there. And the word “bipartisanship” often refers to situations where Democrats and Republicans have agreed to sell out to corporate influence.

    Imagine a football field, with Democrats and Republicans as opposing teams. The field is tilted at about 30 degrees to the right. The corporate media is the television camera on the sidelines. Because that camera is also tilted the same 30 degrees, the viewer at home sees the field as level.

    It’s a wonder anything progressive ever gets done.

    • Smedley Butler says:

      The GOP has an identifiable right wing party/faction the Tea Party. The Democratic party has an identifiable right wing faction the Blue Dogs. Why is there no progressive party/faction? Virtually every successful democracy in the world has a progressive faction/party only corporate control prevents one from filling a natural vacuum here.

      Mike Moore described this as “a war” wars are not always fought with bombs and guns this is one of those wars. Corporate control will not be relinquished voluntarily by corporate concerns. Victory will not be achieved by allowing and aiding them in securing majority representation in the opposition party.

      Without a national and visible progressive party Corporate control of both party’s is almost assured. Allowing them a large and unpublicized degree of influence in the opposition party ensures the corruption of democracy.

      The Democratic party will not be dissolved it will be co-opted to preserve the illusion of choice. A complete takeover is unnecessary just enough support to add to that of the T_GOP to ensure control is enough. If a scattered and disorganized opposition is not unified in support of truly progressive representatives it’s easier to bring enough resources to bear on any single one who gains traction and popularity to smack them down.

      Billionaires and Corporations seeking to control national policy and direction need only influence who is run and receives election support from the Democratic party to enough of a degree to keep the numbers right to achieve bi-partisan majorities favoring Corporate policy.

      It is imperative that we fight the battle in our own back yard. We have lost one party if we lose two or even 1.5 we are cooked.

    • choicelady says:

      It gets done when we INSIST that it gets done.

      • Buddy McCue says:

        And ONLY then, I reckon.

        • choicelady says:


          Ask yourself -- if elected officials never hear from progressives -- and they do NOT -- then why in the world would they even KNOW what the hell we want?

          Democracy can’t operate in a vacuum. If there is an absence of support for an issue, the legislator will follow the people from whom he or she hears. Why wouldn’t they? In hotly contested issues, obviously there is growing input from all sides, but in many cases, we the liberal/progressives assume that if someone runs on that line they don’t NEED to hear, and they most certainly DO.

          And click and send letters don’t substitute -- they don’t make a dent in too many issues because it’s just a form of spam to most legislators. Sometimes, the sheer volume counts, but it is worth your time to write a short but personal letter (FAX it -- it will get stopped for anthrax check) or email or even just a call. THAT counts!!!

          If we never replied to anyone’s post, would they not think we just don’t CARE? Same with elected leaders. We have to remind ’em why we elected them!

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