Wednesday, November 03, 2010

We, the Messengers

Here's a comment I made at Washington Monthly in reply to someone suggesting that Obama and the Democrats needed to do a better job getting the message out. 

I've got to disagree with the idea that Obama is to blame for not getting the message out. That was our job. Obama didn't win in 2008 because he was such a great messenger. He won because WE were such good messengers.

But unfortunately, some of our best players decided to sideline themselves for two straight years in order to make a point. And instead of helping Obama spread our message, they attacked him for not doing enough. That was a big difference between 2008 and 2010. Obama lost the diehards, and that was a big part of the message machine.

And at this point, everyone is saying that they were right the whole time. Republicans will insist that we lost because Obama was too liberal. Progressives will insist we lost because Obama wasn't bold enough. Obama supporters will insist we lost because progressives didn't help us get the message out. And basically, everyone's going to keep saying the same shit they've been saying for the last two years. Which is more or less the same shit they said ten years ago. Just like I'm doing now. It doesn't matter who wins or loses. We all think we were right all along.

And that's the stupid thing about all the "messages" we were supposedly sending to Obama and Congress by not supporting them: People will only hear the message they want to hear. Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 made Republicans want to be more rightwing, while Republican victories will make centrist Dems want to be more rightwing. And now Obama's got to work with an even more aggressive Congress, including a House that can impeach him; making it FAR less likely he'll govern the way liberals would like. Brilliant strategy, guys. It's like trying to run a marathon by punching yourself in the face. You might not win, but you'll get really hurt in the process.

The reality is that sending messages doesn't work. Just vote for the Democrat and hope for the best. No matter how shitty the Democrat is, they're still better than what the Republicans are about to do. Sad, but true.

And most importantly: Voting is one of the LEAST effective means of exercising your political power. If we want better Democrats, we need to start right now. Tonight wasn't as bad as it could have been, and I think that things are well positioned for us to kick mucho ass in two years. But the time to start is now. Power to the people.


Betsy said...

Very small, mouselike voice...
"thanks Dr. B....."

Insert small ray of hope here...

John Fulton said...

We need some political crack, though, to attract people and get them excited. What will that be I wonder.

Anyway, I appreciate your optimism.

mahakal said...

Brad Ellsworth went down, which was fine by me. And not sorry to see ol' Blanche Lincoln replaced. Run real Democrats or don't bother me.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Really? You can't find ANY significant difference between Ellsworth, Lincoln, and their Republican opponents? Sorry, but I have too much faith in your intelligence to believe you really mean that.

And let's not forget that many "real" Democrats fell, too. Like Grayson. It wasn't a great year for us.

The reality is that having control of Congress is FAR more important than any of the individuals we elect to it. It really IS all about having the D after their name. I'd like to have a Congress full of Graysons, but I'd take one full of Ellsworths over one full of Pauls and Bachmanns. Getting someone who only supports me 50% of the time is far better than someone who attacks me 100%. It's all about the gavals.

And just to get your goad, I'll say that by the time Republicans are done with their fifth thorough investigation of the Obama Administration, you'll start seeing the light again. You know I'm right, and that's what will bug you most of all. A bad Democrat is still better than a Republican.

Dress Left said...


mahakal said...

But your rightwing defective Democrats lost, didn't they? And as sad as the loss of Grayson and Feingold, the Blue Dogs were halved in number and the number of progressive caucus members will increase.

This was a reactionary year, and we held the Senate, plus here in California we ran real Democrats and ran the table taking every statewide office.

But do it your way and keep losing, if you prefer.

Doctor Biobrain said...

*My* rightwing Democrats?? Doing it *my* way? I didn't pick any of these Democrats. The Democrats in those states did. It was the Democrats in Indiana who decided they wanted Ellsworth, not me.

And that was my point all along: Indiana needs to pick the Democrats that are right for them. Not you picking who you think is right for you. These are state races, not national races; even if their choices effect us all. If Indiana wants a pro-gun Democrat, then that's their choice. Not mine or yours.

And if you're trying to suggest that we could have won these races had we gone with "real" Democrats, save your time. I'm not that stupid. Yes, Democrats did good in places that support Democrats and got creamed elsewhere, including in Grayson's district. The Blue Dogs lost IN SPITE of their rightwing ways, not because of them. They weren't Blue Dogs because they were being clever. They did it because that's what people in those districts wanted. And had they not been Blue Dogs, they probably wouldn't have been in office to begin with.

But again, my main point wasn't that we should support these guys because they win elections. My point was that we should support them because these are the people Democrats in those states wanted and any Democrat is better than a Republican. Californians shouldn't be forcing Indianans to accept Democrats they don't want.

Anonymous said...

p to a point, you have a point, but I think you neglect to appreciate the scale of the issues some core constituencies have for the WH. For instance, given the dog and pony show the WH carries on regarding gay rights, is it a surprise to you that 1/3 of gays apparently voted Republican in protest. The LGTB community must feel hard done by this administration and the excuses offered for going slow amount to little more than "get in the back of the bus" masquerading as a political strategem. Dems turned their back of core values like equality. Please don't press your point further. Like I said, up to a point you are correct but the cold shoulder this administration gives to core values and constituencies, followed by the arrogant expectation that these same constiuencies show fealty.....well that flies in the face of a long history of political reality in this country, at least on the Democratic side.