| The first week of January 2010 has seen "the tide turn against Democrats" according to pundits and Conventional Wisdom as Senators Dodd and Dorgan and Governor Ritter of Colorado all announce their retirement, not to mention Senator Nelson saying it was a "mistake" for Democrats to go after health care instead of the economy. Put this together with the Democrats' losing the governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey, and the constant cacophony about health care reform, conversion of one (so far) Blue Dog Democratic Representative to the Republican Party, the security lapses evident in the attempt to bomb the Detroit-bound airplane, problems with closing Guantanamo, an upsurge by al Qaeda in Yemen, a sputtering economy which has seen Wall Street smirking its way to the bank with huge bonuses while Main Street continues to lose jobs---- well, no wonder Fox News is cackling with glee and Politico's formerly Republican operatives smugly predict, if not a Democratic wipeout, then a serious rout in 2010 and beyond, proclaiming The Elephant Triumphant!
Oh, dear, oh dear:
When in worry, when in doubt,
Run in circles, scream and shout.
|This is the predictable game plan for all those Blue Dogs and Republican-Lite Democrats who themselves have sabotaged every effort by President Obama to fulfill campaign promises. Besides, it is painfully obvious that Mr. Obama has turned into Republican Lite himself, more often than not, once safely ensconced in the Oval Office, as evidenced by his early announcement of his refusal to consider single payer for national health care, his agreeing to kill the public option and to tax "Cadillac" health plans, his surge in Afghanistan, his continued bailout and pampering of Wall Street's big banks, his appointment of hardline Free Marketeers and outright Republicans to top levels in his administration, his administration's proposed toothless "reforms" of banksters, his condoning of Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, and so on.... all a kind of pre-emptive surrender to the Inside-the-Beltway Establishment in an apparent effort to 1) short-circuit opposition and/or 2) placate Wall Street and Big Money. So much for Change. So much for Reducing Rancor and restoring balance to our system of checks and balance. Phttt! Gone without even a whimper.
In any case, the caper to ingratiate himself with his enemies has not worked, at least it has not worked if Mr. Obama's intent was a benign (if somewhat naive) reaching a hand out to his opponents. Politics has changed since Reagan, Karl Rove, and Bush junior showed up. Republicans are in permanent campaign mode. At both national and state levels their intent is to prevent Democrats from governing, and their gameplan is working:
It is impossible to govern when the opposition party no longer cooperates in the social contract.
One would think that the American voter would see through these shenanigans, and blame the Republicans for the obstructionist mess in Washington. One would be wrong, partly because the Democrats have not mounted a counter-offensive of their own; not even President Obama has made a clear case for the Democrats vs. the Republicans. Once again, Democrats have ceded to their opponents the high ground and the right to frame the debate on Republican terms---- over and over. As a consequence, Democrats everywhere are at risk. And so are Democratic values. The American voters gave Democrats both houses of Congress and the White House, but to no avail. Whatever they expected from making this decisive gift, one thing is certain: they believe they did not get it. Promises, promises, ha. Will they ever trust Democrats again? Republicans intend that they should not, and that this brief Democratic spring will be blighted forevermore.
What, so far, has been the instinctive Democratic response? Of course, it is to pull in their heads (a turtle should perhaps replace the donkey as the Democratic party emblem), and move rightward. That is, more Republican Lite is in store for the Democratic platform---- just as the Conventional Wisdom demands, insisting that America is center right. Anything that does not mimic the Republican right wing stance on every problem is "socialism" and must be avoided at all costs.
Sucking up to Republican Lite is a very foolish, self-defeating strategy. The Democrats are in trouble now because of exactly this timid attitude. The Americans who showed up in unprecedented numbers to vote in November 2008 did not, repeat not, vote for same-ol' same-ol'. But that is substantially what they got from a Congress and a President who tip toed around and promptly began giving away the store, seemingly unaware of their mandate. Every time a Republican howled about a Democratic proposal (which was every time even a hint of a proposal was in the offing), Democrats blinked and backed off
It is my contention that Democrats have squandered their opportunity. They are in trouble now because of a failure to go for real Democratic reforms, substituting instead mild little Republican Lite baby steps. What we have received from Democratic control of the national government is darned little that seriously threatens the status quo, which so heavily favors the corporate Big Money. Had the Democrats acted boldly and ruthlessly from Day One to roll back the Reagan-Bush anti-middle class policies, I guarantee we would have had no more raucous, spiteful, vicious reactions from the Republicans and their Establishment media than we got from the timid Republican Lite baby steps that the Democrats did attempt.... But we would have had something substantive to show for the effort, instead of the obstructionist mish-mash we have now.
Democrats should be Democrats. Democrats do have a clear choice to offer voters, but you'd never know it from the way they conducted themselves over 2009 at the national level. Mincing around to please Blue Dogs or placate Republicans is a waste of time, and a betrayal of the Democratic grassroots. Hey, national Democrats: Come out swinging, go for the jugular. Had this been the approach, maybe those Obama voters would have come out after all to vote in Virginia and New Jersey last November. The unacknowledged fact is that they, as a demographic, are more inclined to be left of center rather than right of center, and when they show up at the polls, this fact changes the complexion of the voter rolls from the standard right-leaning attitude of the typically low-turnout election to a more progressive-leaning political opinion. Had they seen movement in their direction at the national level, had the Democrats made their case loudly and openly, there is a good chance that the "Obama Gap" would have disappeared, at least in part.
Oh, yeah, I understand the "facts of life" inside the Beltway, how once the newly elected local guy shows up inside the Beltway, he has to fit into the club if he is to be respected and get anything done. Also, he (or she) has to find huge amounts of money to run another successful campaign, and only corporations can consistently produce the necessary sums of money, so that the local guy very quickly figures out on which side his bread is buttered. I understand the power of the military-industrial complex, the entrenched political class which really runs everything, the intransigent weight of "that's how we do things here."
We have let this complex inner club or clique talk away the Obama victory, but we did not need to do so. Despite the somnolent Voter, there is a Revolution coming, like it or not, to restore the middle class and clean up the current inability to govern. A Revolution delayed can only result in a more disruptive revolution later (see Russia 1905 versus 1917-18). The way things are going, the Republicans aim to co-opt the Revolution (see Palin-Beck) and pervert it to the purposes of the corporotists. Surely, the Democrats should be the ones to lead the revolt.... but they cannot do it peddling Republican Lite.