Friday, September 24, 2010

Punishing Ourselves to Victory

Obama said:
The single biggest threat to our success is not the other party. It's us. It's complacency. It's apathy. It's indifference. It's people feeling like, well, we only got 80 percent of what we want, we didn't get the other 20, so we're just going to sit on our hands
And I've got to agree with that.  If all the people who voted for Obama in 2008 voted for Democrats in November, it'd be a landslide for us.  We'd slaughter them.  But the problem is that too many people have just given up on Obama.

But that was a big offense for many of the people Obama was referring to.  Apparently, the truth hurts.  So these people have to attack the man who is responsible for more liberalism than these keyboard critics of his will be in their entire lifetimes.  That's not to attack these people, but merely to state a fact:

Proving his point

Here are a sampling of comments to Obama's remark.
"Would that we had gotten 80. Seems more like less than 50%."

"All I wanted was a rollback of Cheney's acquisition of dictatorial powers for the executive, so I got 0%.  I shouldn't have been surprised; the Democrats are accountable only to the center-right."

"Our so called Dem "leaders" in Washington again showed why a large % of people who supported them are now basically disgusted we are with them. I have NEVER seen such totally ball-less group of people in my life. They deserve what happens to them in November, especially the Blue Dogs who really have NO concern for their constituents only concern for their "jobs".'
And there's a lot more just like it. 

And none of this makes any sense.  Because, yes, I suppose many of these people will be "punished" if they don't get re-elected.  But you know who else gets punished?  That's right, us.  The country.  These guys aren't just talking about kicking some traitorous Blue Dogs out of Congress.  They're talking about throwing us to the wolves. 

Anyway, I wrote three comments regarding this, and figured I'd share them here.  Enjoy!

Double-Reverse Psychocology

I'm astonished by the number of Democrats who somehow imagine that we'll get more of what we want if we "punish" Democrats in November. As if it's somehow worth it to allow Republicans to trash the country for two straight years, in the hopes that a rightwing victory will teach Democrats to be more leftwing.

But of course, what we'll get instead is two years of Republican rule, followed by Democrats who are so afraid of another loss that they bend over backwards to appease Tea Partiers. Believe it or not, but the way to strengthen your team is to support them, not attack them. I know, that doesn't feel very satisfactory, but that's how it works.

If you want Democrats to be liberals, we need to give them more seats in Congress; not fewer. And if we abandon them, they'll find someone else who will support them. That's just how life works.

Senator Rand Paul

This isn't Senator Weak-kneed v. Senator Pony. This is Senator Weak-kneed v. Senator O'Donnell.

And look, the main reason Democrats haven't done more is because they're scared. They just don't think there are enough liberals to support a liberal agenda, and that paralyzes them. By abandoning them, they just get more scared and more likely to do nothing or move to the right. It's like punishing your kid by slapping them every time they screw up. You're more likely to traumatize him than teach him to stop screwing up. And as much as I don't like scared Democrats, that's certainly better than emboldened Republicans in charge.

And again, that's what we're talking about. Maybe you'd prefer that Republicans get control of the circus again, but I don't. I'll take an ineffectual Democratic Congress over an effectual Republican one, any day. This election has real consequences.

Rahm's Peeing His Pants
A commenter suggested that Obama is ignoring the left because Rahm things he's got them all sewn up.  To which I wrote:
Really? You imagine Rahm thinks he's got the left sewn up? Because I believe Rahm's shitting his pants about the left. I think they've written off much of the left because the left wrote them off long ago.

Seriously, at this point, what could Obama realistically do to woo you back? Could he do it in the short time before the election? Or is it already too late? And at what point did it become too late?

He started his presidency with a good 10% of the ultra-left having written him off. Right or wrong, they simply couldn't support him. It didn't take long until another 10% wrote him off, followed by another little chunk. And before long, he's lost 40% of his base or more. And there's nothing that can bring them back. Not realistically. These people already gave up on Obama and the Democrats, and want them punished for their sins.

So at that point, what can they do? Because this was inevitable. Obama would never have more than 70% of the liberal base, and probably less. They went into it knowing that. Liberals just aren't like that. And so what choice do they have but to work the middle, and at least put up a good faith effort towards looking non-partisan?

And let's be serious: The Obama presidency is WAAAAAY better than the Bush years. Anyone who suggests differently is deluding themselves. As much as it's possible to find similarities between Obama and Bush, I refuse to believe that any of you would trade this for another Bush presidency or a McCain presidency. Seriously.

And that's what we're talking about. You can blame Obama and the Democrats all you want, but at the end of the day, we've got to live with two years of Republican hysteria. We'll only be punishing ourselves.


Kid said...

I've seen a lot of arguments made in both directions on this point but I believe--at some point--the Left has to take a pragmatic approach to evaluating Obama. I want to look at him as an opportunity for society to take the first step back towards the Liberalism that once made this arguably the most admired country in the world. We can't get back there in 2 years--we spent almost 30 years mostly wandering off-track while Money/Power/Fear called the shots. Those interests aren't gonna give up their control easily to the charismatic Obama or to Jesus Christ himself should he show up. We're going to have to push hard to get it back one little piece at a time--the same way it was taken from us.

So the President is correct. Our biggest enemy is not the howler monkeys on the Right. We are our own worst enemies if we can't muster the patience to use small improvements to help hold our idealism in check--and avoid throwing up our hands. God willing this will be a gradual enlightening.

John Fulton said...

I think so many people forget what actually doing something entails. Obama's job is not purely acting a TV role. He has to really figure out how to make real changes in the world that will improve the lives of millions of people. The opposition need only stop things from happening, which makes their job so much easier. Obama has to do so much more than that and more than just look good in front of the cameras. Improving the world is a huge job. So many criticize him for not posturing the right way.

Davis X. Machina said...

There's a significant slice of the left that believes any contact with actual power is corrupting and toxic, so that for them Obama was anathema on the day he was sworn in, because he was sworn in.

The only way for Obama to get those votes would be to have named Shirley Jackson-Lee or Dennis Kucinich VP, and then upon taking the oath, immediately resign.

That's how you stick it to The Man.

This identical dream, of politics-without-politicians, is shared over on the teabaggy right....