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The Impotence of the Loyal Partisan Voter

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- 2991 days ago -
The Democratic Party institutional structures of D.C., and the Beltway press in particular, not only hate the Democratic base -- they think it's good politics for Democratic politicians to kick that base publicly whenever possible.


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Kit B (276)
Wednesday April 6, 2011, 9:39 am
Rachel Maddow last night issued a very harsh and eloquent denunciation of Obama's decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before a military commission at Guantanamo rather than a real court. At the end of her monologue, Maddow focused on the contrast between how the Republicans treat their base and how Democrats treat theirs, specifically emphasizing that the White House announced this decision on the same day it kicked off Obama's re-election bid. About that point, Rachel said this:

A Democratic President kicks his base in the teeth on something as fundamental as civil liberties -- he puts the nail in the coffin of a civil liberties promise he made on his first full day in office -- and he does it on the first day of his re-election effort. And Beltway reaction to that is. . . huh, good move. That's the difference between Republican politics and Democratic politics. The Republicans may not love their base, but they fear them and play to them. The Democratic Party institutional structures of D.C., and the Beltway press in particular, not only hate the Democratic base -- they think it's good politics for Democratic politicians to kick that base publicly whenever possible.

Only the base itself will ever change that.

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How will that happen? How can the base itself possibly change this dynamic, whereby politicians of the Democratic Party are not only willing, but eager, to "kick them whenever possible," on the ground (among others) that doing so is good politics? I'd submit that this is not only one of the most important domestic political questions (if not the most important), but also the one that people are most eager to avoid engaging. And the reason is that there are no comforting answers.

One thing is for certain: right now, the Democratic Party is absolutely correct in its assessment that kicking its base is good politics. Why is that? Because they know that they have inculcated their base with sufficient levels of fear and hatred of the GOP, so that no matter how often the Party kicks its base, no matter how often Party leaders break their promises and betray their ostensible values, the base will loyally and dutifully support the Party and its leaders (at least in presidential elections; there is a good case that the Democrats got crushed in 2010 in large part because their base was so unenthusiastic).

In light of that fact, ask yourself this: if you were a Democratic Party official, wouldn't you also ignore -- and, when desirable, step on -- the people who you know will support you no matter what you do to them? That's what a rational, calculating, self-interested, unprincipled Democratic politician should do: accommodate those factions which need accommodating (because their support is in question), while ignoring or scorning the ones whose support is not in question, either because they will never vote for them (the hard-core right) or will dutifully canvass, raise money, and vote for them no matter what (the Democratic base). Anyone who pledges unconditional, absolute fealty to a politician -- especially 18 months before an election -- is guaranteeing their own irrelevance.

It was often said that Bush/Cheney used fear as their principal political weapon -- and they did -- but that's true of the Democratic Party as well. When it comes to their base, Democratic leaders know they will command undying, unbreakable support no matter how many times they kick their base, because of the fear that has been instilled in the base -- not fear of Terrorists or Immigrants (that's the GOP's tactic), but fear of Sarah Palin, the Kochs and the Tea Party. Rachel herself made this point quite well before the 2010 election:

I talked at the top of the show tonight with Gail Collins about how one way to motivate your natural base for an election is to make your base afraid of what the other side has to offer. And that is true. That works. That works on both sides. It works for conservatives about liberals and it works for liberals about conservatives.

But one less soul-sucking way to motivate your base and to win an election and to keep winning elections and to, frankly, have history look kindly upon you, is to get your base to cheer for you -- not just to cheer against someone else, but to see you standing up, not just to bad guys with worse ideas than you, but to see you standing up for what is right because you know it is right, because we know you know it's right, even though you also know standing up for it is hard.

It may be that this fear of Republicans is rational (or, given how many GOP-replicating policies and practices the Democrats embrace, maybe it isn't). But whatever else is true, one thing is for certain: dedicated partisans who pledge their unbreakable, eternally loyal support for any Party or politician are going to be steadfastly ignored (or worse) by that Party or politician, and rightfully so. If you spend two years vehemently objecting that certain acts so profoundly offend your principles but then pledge unequivocal support no matter what almost two years in advance to the politicians who engage in them, why would you expect your objections to be heeded? Any rational person would ignore them, and stomp on your beliefs whenever doing so benefited them.

I'm not saying I know the answer. Joan Walsh yesterday urged progressives not to organize for Obama until next year while nonetheless vowing to support his re-election, which (though well-intentioned) strikes me as merely reinforcing this dynamic. But what I do know is that Rachel's optimistic proclamation that "only the base itself will ever change" this dynamic cannot be fulfilled without giving the Party and its leaders a true reason to pay attention or care about disenchantment (and, some day, to fear alienating their base). For those who are hopeful that this will happen, what do they envision will cause it? What would ever make Democratic Party leaders change how they view this dynamic?

By Glenn Greenwald for Salon

Kit B (276)
Wednesday April 6, 2011, 10:07 am

Like many others I too am disappointed in some campaign promises that did not and will not come to fruition. Yet, unlike some I didn't really expect the promises to be any thing more then statements of what things need change, and not what would change. Politicians are dependability political animals and to expect more then that is a fool's journey. I do wish he had taken a firm stand on universal health care and then again he never said he would support that. During the election I remember many talking about Obama as if he were extremely left, I listen carefully to what all or in the final race both candidates have to say. Obama couldn't have been more clear about how middle of the road he is without running as an Independent or moderate republican.

One thing is clear democrats can no longer afford our usual in-fighting and bickering. This time we had better decide quickly and begin our work for 2012 early and get this done. I'm not just talking about the Presidential seat but both houses of Congress and governors who will be up for re-election. This time if we put in the work, the republicans have given us a gift. Still, we need to emulate them in one substantial way, we need to speak with one voice.

Even when republicans know what they are saying is blatantly untrue - they will repeat it over and over until it is heard so often is seems true. Of course they have a hard nosed loyal base that wants and needs to believe that nonsense and follow along like loyal puppies. The point is not whether or not it is true - the point is that it works. Just look at the endless repetitive Bull Sh!t about the problem is not "raising taxes it is cutting entitlement programs".

Raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations who have had an increasing "free ride" for 30 years, cut the military budget by 25-50% and that ends all of financial problems.

Sure there is still waste in the government and I would like to have that looked at and dealt with in an honest and fair way. What is happening right now is patently immoral.

Spout quotes from a bible while cutting what little money is actually used to help the poor, the sick, the disabled, the elderly, the unemployed and denial for all poor women any access to health is not just hypocritical it is fully immoral.


Past Member (0)
Wednesday April 6, 2011, 12:20 pm
Kucinich-If you don't vote your heart, your heart never wins

Marilyn K (50)
Wednesday April 6, 2011, 1:02 pm
The GOP is forcing the Dems to unite or go down with the ship. They have created an atmosphere where you can no longer use common sense, reach out or recognize the middle class.

Fiona Ogilvie (562)
Wednesday April 6, 2011, 5:26 pm
The Democrats can never speak with one voice. They have too many causes. I wish we could have a system like Canada with many parties.

Past Member (0)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 7:19 pm
John is Kucinich willing to run on an Independent ticket for President ? If so he has my vote but I can't throw away my vote if he isn't viable.
Frankly I think Kucinich should be our President ,he is the only Democrat whose consistantly stood up for his base and honors the Constitution.I don't understand why more people have not come together behind Kucinich . I say write him in on the ballot .

Barbara Erdman (63)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 9:11 pm
Noted and thanx Miss Kitty :-0 all comments noted as well :)

Lisa H (180)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 11:16 pm
Linda, it is PRECISELY those things that will keep Kucinich out of office in 2012. He is far too progressive, and might sway those mid-road people to vote for the Party of Evil. Also PRECISELY the reason us liberals love the man! Thanks Kit. Hard to keep supporting the jackass, but the alternative is beyond the 7 levels of Hell!

Past Member (0)
Friday April 8, 2011, 10:16 am
Lisa I am sure your right but come 2016 we all need to get on the same page and work hard to get him elected if we are ever going to see the change we all really want to see in our government . The middle of the road people are keeping us with the same two choices and where has that gotten us ? Nowhere ! Maybe if we start at the state level like the Tea Party did we can get the kind of candidates who are willing to do the job of the people not of big corporations . We also need to change media that seems to black out progressives and promotes Tea Party Republican's.

Past Member (0)
Friday April 8, 2011, 10:17 am
I actually meant to say right after the 2012 election we need to get on the same page .

Kit B (276)
Friday April 8, 2011, 10:33 am

I disagree Linda, we need to try to make compromises and get on one page now. How do the republicans and now the T-bags win? One and only message - consistently and supportive. This is true even when they know what they are saying is a lie. I don't recommend we become liars - only consistent, and maybe for the first time in party history speak with one voice. We do have a large "tent" we do stand for many things, each of those things are important some issues far more important one group then to another, we must learn to compromise, and most important speak with one message, one that is clear and has substance over political rhetoric.

Jonjon Hoy (146)
Friday April 8, 2011, 4:52 pm
Well done Kit B. Bravo.............
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