Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Don't Be So Surprised

I'm not going to say that the Democrats in Congress or President Obama is salvaging what they can. I'm not saying that they shouldn't fight. I won't say that the liberal/progressive base deserve to be ignored.

I will say that no one should be surprised.

And no, not because "Obama said 'X' and now he's doing 'Y.'" How is that different from Clinton? Sure, he gave us that awesome surplus, but even Thom Hartmann has talked about how Clinton governed with a conservative slant. People tend to forget that because the guy was a Democrat.

No, we shouldn't be surprised because of two basic things that have been constant since Ronald Reagan came in and did a curb stomp on progressive politics:
  1. The elected Democrats fear the GOP base more than their own;
  2. Liberals and Progressives have not successfully infiltrated the Democratic Party.
On point one: I've said this over and over and over again; and here's why: elected Democrats, like your average American, think this country is at best center-right. Where did this come from? For one, Fox News tells people that every day, and the other two cable news stations (CNN and MSNBC) either echo that sentiment faintly or say nothing at all. Another reason is the GOP has masterfully managed to package their ideology into soundbites and slogans that match the average American's beliefs and views. Not to say that people, when pushed, are actually in sync with the GOP; but as long as they think they are, that's enough to push the propaganda.

On point two (which is actually more key here): Liberals can complain and fact-check and make all the best, concrete arguments they want, but the fact remains: you're not an elected Congressperson. I understand the frustration and it's very justified, but damn it, half the people yelling and threatening to form another party and saying that Obama is just like Bush should have running in their local primaries in 2006, 2008 and yes, 2010.

Don't give me any bullshit about "not knowing how to campaign" either. The yahoos we had in this last midterm could barely boil water and they managed to make some noise (if not win). Alvin Greene looked like he just came out of a coma. If you're as passionate and knowledgeable about politics, if you live and breathe this stuff, then it's way past time for you to start adding your name to the ballot.

"What about money? I'm broke." Please. The witch-lady was fucking unemployed. Don't believe the hype about fund-raising; it's hard but not impossible. If you can get your neighborhood to by your kids' cookies or candies or whatever you're selling for school or the soccer team, you can get some cash to represent them.

"I have kids/family/sick loved one." Well, that didn't stop John Edwards from running for President (twice) or VP (or cheating on his wife, but that's another story). Wasn't there a southern Governor who took off from his family (on Father's Day, no less) to see his mistress, only to be caught because a reporter happened to be at the airport?

Stop making excuses. How many times have you watched the Sunday shows, or C-SPAN, or the cable news, thinking, "These idiots! Why don't they fight back? I could do some much better! Well you can. You can start today. Or tomorrow. Or next year.

Now let me say two things in closing. First, what does surprise me is how liberals and progressives have been so caught off-guard since after Obama was sworn in. After years of staying on-top of everything George W. Bush and GOP, it's like the base went to sleep during the summer of 2009 and has been playing catch-up ever since. You don't have to go too far to see the first glaring example; it was the Health Care Town Hall meetings that August: screaming "concerned average Americans;" confused Democrats; Republicans smelling blood. Where was the liberal base? Just as dazed and confused as the Democrats. In the Bush days, someone would have found out about the Freedomworks/AstroTurf angle weeks before Rachel Maddow mentioned it on her program. If roles were reversed (a Democratic-backed campaign against a GOP-driven political agenda) Fox News, conservative radio and the conservative blogs would have been on it (mostly speculative) within days. By the time liberals got themselves together, the Public Option was already off the table.

The tax thing is no different. This push should have happened before the midterms; liberals should have held the Congressional Democrats' feet to the fire, not Obama. Once the House was lost, the media jumped on the "Obama must work with Republicans now" meme and the guy's hands were tied. Is that fair? Hell no. But the politicians deal in a different world than us; for us it's literally life-and-death, for them it's a job/career (or if they're rich enough, a hobby). Their only motivation is cash and the threat of being kicked out. The GOP's base has figured that out, and they are milking it for all it's worth.

Also, their side doesn't let up and doesn't stop. The only time they take off is to plan the next move, and they already have the infrastructure (Rush, Fox News) and the meme (the media is inherently "liberal" so to be fair said media must give conservatives more exposure) in place. Liberals are just building this infrastructure so the outrage, while understandable, isn't going to do any good.

The second thing is this: if you truly aren't passionate about what's going on, how the GOP has basically been bought and how the Democrats are half-way there, then by all means, keep sitting in the stands and watch the game unfold. But keep in mind, the only way someone can really affect the outcome of a game is by participating in it. I've read too many blogs by people way smarter and more involved in politics than me to believe that there aren't any potentially strong liberal candidates out there. Me? This is a hobby and I'll fully admit that I'm not as passionate and gung-ho about this as the people I read. I haven't watched Olbermann and Maddow a whole week for months; I haven't checked on a Sunday talk show since late April. Hell, I'll probably be talking about basketball or Transformers or comic books in the next post; I'm not a political blogger.

That being said, I'll repeat myself one more time to make it clear: liberals and progressives need to primary more and create a voting block strong enough to garner attention in Congress and in the press. Until that happens, it will be business as usual.

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