March 8th, 2010

Being a liberal has been somewhat disheartening lately. We expected that we would have a revolutionary progressive in the White House making our hopes comes true, but instead got a compromising technocrat even more willing to appease Republicans than Clinton ever was. We expected a supermajority, but got a Congress that couldn’t pass much of anything. We expected solid opposition, but thought they could be splintered just enough to make a difference. So, many of us came to the conclusion that the Democrats were not what we thought they were, that they failed. Seeing little hope, the progressives started losing interest in the elections coming this Fall.

Big mistake. If anything, we should be galvanized, ready to fight even harder than the last election–and with good cause, because this coming midterm election could mean a whole lot more.

First of all, our expectations were way too high. We should have known that Obama was no flaming liberal. Yes, the right-wingers painted him that way, but they would have claimed that Ronald Reagan himself was the most liberal commie socialist ever had he risen from the grave, switched parties, and ran as the Democratic candidate. The Democrat on the ticket could be espousing every right-wing goal imaginable, it wouldn’t make a difference. They claim any Democratic candidate, in every election, is “the most liberal ever.” Not only that, but one of Obama’s big selling points, if you recall, was that he liked finding middle ground, he wanted to compromise as a way of reaching consensus and getting things done. So expecting him to push the nation far to the left was unrealistic.

Then there was Congress. Once Specter had switched and Al Franken’s seat was finally confirmed, we thought we had a super-majority and could sweep in any law we wanted to. Well, that was a stupid assumption. One of those 60 votes was Lieberman, who campaigned for John McCain; to expect him to vote with the Democrats on anything the Republicans pushed hard against was folly indeed. And even not counting him, many of the new Democrats won precisely because they were conservative Democrats, winning conservative states where they would have to pander to conservative sensibilities. We never had 60% in the crucial bottleneck of the Senate; at best we had just over a simple majority, at least when it comes to the controversial stuff.

And then there was Republican opposition. We knew that they would push, but I don’t think that anyone foresaw just how fantastically monolithic and almost hysterically powerful that opposition would be. They pulled no punches and did not give a moment’s hesitation in fear that their total obstructionist frenzy could work against them. With the fanatical single-mindedness usually seen only in the most feverish of zealots, they not only obstructed but poured out a tidal wave of unprecedented, unadulterated hatred and invective, issuing against the president–at all levels low and high–every pejorative one could imagine being used publicly.

With a centrist president, much less than the needed supermajority in Congress, and fanatical obstructionist opposition from the right wing, there was never a chance for much to get done. We should have seen this from examples of the past. At, we get this chart showing the majorities that FDR and LBJ had during formative years that trended to the liberal. Note that they usually had well over 60% majorities in the Senate, while the House was always above the 50% needed there.


In short, to get even part of a meaningful agenda done, we’re gong to need more than we got before. Becoming disheartened and turning away from the polls is nothing short of self-destructive, especially as the right-wingers, tasting Democratic defeat and still possessed of whipped-up, galvanized, angry mobs of tea-bagging fanaticism, are looking at strong showings at the polls this coming November.

We have little hope of gaining the seats we need to get the things we want done. But to give up and lose seats–maybe hand Republicans a simple majority in either house, all they would need to make their scorched-earth goals total and irrevocable–would be just plain dumb.

The Democrats, for all of their weak-kneed, wavering ineptitude, never really had a chance. There were too many Blue Dogs, too much solidarity and hysteria from the right, and not enough single-minded Bush-like drive or disregard for the risks from the White House for this to work.

Had FDR faced this, the New Deal would never have passed. Had LBJ been given these numbers, neither Medicare nor the Civil Rights legislation he got through would have stood a chance.

We fooled ourselves into thinking that we had the numbers to get things done. We were wrong. We weren’t even close. Not just one more vote, but probably five more votes in the Senate may have done the job. As weak-kneed as the Dems have been, that wasn’t what broke the deal. They could have been bolder and stronger and still failed. All that was needed was for Lieberman to vote “no,” and that would be that.

That’s what we have to keep in mind in upcoming elections: More. We need more. We need to galvanize, to get out the vote. Giving up is not an option. Even at my time of greatest disgust, when I couldn’t even bear to watch any more, I knew that I would still be voting strongly, as I always will. But many have simply turned away and don’t intend to vote. If you know someone like that, make sure you turn them around. Make sure you get them their voter registration materials and egg them on to the polls in November.

Even if we don’t succeed, not losing is far better than giving up and letting these frothing, fanatical fascists take back the country and send us right back down the shaft to national self-destruction they had us falling to for the first eight years of the century.

  1. Troy
    March 8th, 2010 at 14:18 | #1


    That would be pretty good for you! 日本もかも。

    I’m not too stressed by the present course since it is true that a people get the government they deserve. If the people reject Obama and the Dems in 2010 & 2012, I personally won’t lose out much of anything, other than my social security which hasn’t been filled up due to my long stayover in Japan.

  2. Luis
    March 8th, 2010 at 14:29 | #2

    That would be pretty good for you! 日本もかも。

    It wouldn’t be good for my Apple stock if I wanted to cash in and bring the money back to Japan… in fact, it would only be really good for me if I was sending money back to the U.S. Otherwise, the only benefit would be in the fall of prices of U.S. goods in Japan. But it would also hurt Japanese exports to America, making the economy here worse. So even in terms of 円高, I am better off if Palin does not win any elections. In addition to the obvious reasons, like it would probably signify the final blow to the country I love, dooming it beyond any hope of recovery.

    I don’t fully agree with the “government they deserve” sentiment, in that more than half of the people (even more if one takes future generations, even more affected by this than we are, into account) are not getting the government they asked for or allowed. Not to mention, it is not the America that the world deserves, nor is it the America that America as an ideal deserves. What is essentially one half of the voting age population deserves it–half of them by voting that way, and the other half for not voting at all. Everyone else is victimized by it.

  3. Tim Kane
    March 8th, 2010 at 20:40 | #3

    I’ve read some compelling arguments lately, where the author, a liberal, wishes that McCain had won the election and that America had then had a true melt down that Republicans would have owned.

    I think this is going to happen anyway.

    Wealth has just become too concentrated. It’s like a black hole… where the gravity is so great even light can’t escape. America has pretty much become a plantation. The Supreme Court sealed the deal… like the Pope crowing Napoleon emperor or something like that. Corporations control both parties and the media. Their control and their accumulation of wealth and power is just going to snow ball from here.

    This makes me think that the commenter wishing for McCain winning the election might have been taking the correct position. A rapid and totally complete fall would totally and thoroughly discredit the thugs. In deed, it should have already. Such thorough discrediting might have brought substantial leftist to power in bigger numbers.

    We need major changes to the constitution to dilute the power of money.

    This is what destroyed the Roman Empire.

  4. Troy
    March 8th, 2010 at 21:31 | #4

    @Tim Kane

    Well, I’m actually not that negative. I have hope the American people can grow a brain and figure out that small-government conservatism isn’t the answer.

    And if that happens then we won’t need the purgative of 4 or 8 more years of Republican bumble—-ing.

    But if the people forget why they booted the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 — what else can we think other than we are a nation of tards?

    Luis, the yen at 50 opens up an interesting economic reality for Japan. It doubles their (your!) purchasing power vis-a-vis OPEC and China. Import labor (nurses etc) who are paid in dollars would get 50% cheaper. Macs would get 50% cheaper too!

    Japan wouldn’t have to manufacture anything for export since it would be cheaper procuring it from their American or Chinese factories. This would be the 1980s zeitgeist all over again.

    Now, the whole 50 yen thing is just idle speculation. Currency markets make no sense to me, and the more I look at the Japanese economy the less I understand.

    Japan does have $765B in US govt debt now. At 5%, just the interest on that horde would support around a million filipina nurses at $40K each, LOL. $40K is 10X the per-capita gdp of the Philippines.

    The future is unknowable but I think it will be better than we fear. I was pretty down on the US in 1992, went to Japan, and missed its best decade ever. Came back in 2000 for its worst decade ever, too.

Comments are closed.