16 May 2011

Fight for reachable pragmatists, not ideologists

OK, we've already seen more than enough of the disasters created by the Republicans' winning control of the House and various state governments in the ultra-low-turnout election of 2010. How do we reverse their gains in 2012, or at least make sure they don't gain even more power?

My guess is that Obama and the Democrats have largely written off the votes of the radical ideological-purist left. That group is, after all, at risk to sit out the election or vote third-party (and in some cases has explicitly threatened to do so) if the Democrats don't deliver on various litmus-test issues, some of which are neither practical nor possible -- and is truculently unmoved by the fact that the Republicans whom they would thus empower are far, far worse.

Democrats would be wise to focus instead on the working-class activism energized by the union-busting antics of Scott Walker and other teabagger kinglets. For these voters, having a decent (or at least not malignant) government is a matter of economic survival, not just some ideological abstraction. They know that in the real world, you need to choose the better of the available alternatives, not compile a checklist which the better party must satisfy to be worthy of support no matter how bad the other side is.

The elderly, too, despite the cultural conservatism of many of them, may well be reachable once they realize how profoundly the Republicans threaten Medicare and Social Security. And with their numbers and established habit of high turn-out for elections, they are a formidable bloc.

Another group with strong pragmatic reasons to fight for the Democrats is the gay community. The Republicans, since their 2010 electoral gains, have launched a sustained and vicious attack on gays' recent gains, pushing to re-instate DADT and fighting all- out against gay marriage with a campaign of nakedly-bigoted lies. The rabid fundamentalists who make up the present Republican base demonize gays -- almost literally in some cases. Gays would have more to lose than any other group if Republicans won more power next year -- and the community is willing to commit real resources to the struggle.

The course for Democrats is clear: go to the mat for worker and union rights, for the social safety net the elderly depend on, and for the civil rights of the besieged but tough LGBT community. Fight for the votes of these pragmatic, reachable constituencies. And for goodness sake, stop being shy about raising tax rates on the wealthy, which are now at historic lows. Americans across the board overwhelmingly support this. And Obama isn't the only one who can exert real power and take such initiatives. Congressional Democrats can and should, too.

And who knows? If the Democrats go all out in those struggles and win, some of the ideological purists may come home by November as well.


Blogger okjimm said...

Well... Wisconsin is fighting back from the grip of Walkerstan. We have an unprecedented 6 Republican State Senators up for recall.... to combat this the Wisconsin right-wing legislature has moved to pass new laws on ..voter registration, concealed gun carry and end early release for non-violent criminals. All items that fly in the face of their "Budget Reform" platform.

The Neo-con Republican are seeking to not only disenfranchise Gays... but the elderly, the sick, the students... basically anyone who does not believe in their brand of quasi-Christian ethos... whatever that is.

//Republicans whom they would thus empower are far, far worse//

... I have run into several individuals on the net, the street,who are dissatisfied with Obama because of the perception that he has not 'done enough' to further 'their' special interest.

you have nailed this perfectly...


16 May, 2011 08:19  
Anonymous Badger said...

Very thoughtful post. I'm thinking it's rational and a course the Admin should follow.
Shooting old Bin-Laden in the eye was a real boost to his credentials. The weak Dem. President portrayed by the pukes has been debunked. Obama is not my choice, if I really had one.
The thing is lassie would be better than what the right has to offer. USA USA USA..ah huh

16 May, 2011 08:21  
Blogger Jack Jodell said...

My advice to the Democrats is to go ahead and let those goddam Republicans and Tea Party trogolydytes shut down the government over the debt ceiling. Then watch in November of 2012 as a very large and justifiably furious set of workers, retirees, minorities, poor, and disabled people throw these idiot, uncaring conservatives permanently out of office on their asses, where each of them belongs!

We'll teach these bastards once and for all what the REAL majority of Americans wants!!!!

16 May, 2011 10:16  
Blogger tnlib said...

Don't forget women and minorities.

Walker is now targeting police and firefighters.

WI isn't the only state trying to disenfranchise certain groups of voters. You know, the ones who are likely to vote Democratic. There are about 31 others trying to do the same. If the laws pass, Dems need to organize and volunteer to drive people to get photo IDs and students need to get organized to vote absentee.

16 May, 2011 14:55  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

Off topic, I'm afraid, but I hope you won't mind me taking a moment to thank you for including me in the Crooks and Liars blog roundup this morning. It is by far the highest profile website I've ever been mentioned on, and I really appreciate it.

16 May, 2011 18:45  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Okjimm: The mobilization we've seen in Wisconsin is inspiring. I hope more and more of the people who are under threat from the Republicans recognize what's happening.

Badger: Thanks. Obama definitely has some political capital now -- if only he'd see that this is also the time to use it.

JJ: Unfortunately a failure to raise the debt ceiling would have far worse consequences than just a government shut-down. Krugman's recent column had a point, though. Yielding to blackmail just leads to more blackmail.

TNLib: The Republicans do seem determined to alienate ethnic minorities. A lot of women have historically identified more with their class or religion than by gender. Of course, we've seldom seem such blatant attacks on reproductive rights; not all women are pro-choice, but I hope there's a big number in the political middle who are starting to wake up about such issues for the first time.

I saw the story about the attack on the police and firefighters unions. Of course, they realized this was coming when they showed solidarity with the other unions earlier.

GE: It was a natural choice; you have an excellent blog, and I hope some new readers discover it.

16 May, 2011 20:12  
Anonymous nonnie9999 said...

spot on, infidel. the rethugs have been dissing police, firefighters, teachers, and all other union workers. most people realize that, when union workers do better, non-union workers do better, too. not only that, but people have an affectionate bond with members of those professions, so you strum the heartstrings while also making a logical argument.

17 May, 2011 00:54  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Mornin Infodel ... I actually read this yesterday, I am very confused in the last couple week's politically as what is going on, I am missing something and havent figured it out yet, something to me is "too" odd. Example ... from these stunt's by what's this guy ... Trump, running, not running, etc, all the birth talk he presented, now you got Flukey Newt jumping in the ring, you have the usual's like Predator Palin, Sacred Short's Romney, Huckee, etc and then all the self incriminating/ damaging action's or talk's out of some (like medicare privatization or such), yet they have mega anonymous support from big buck's, even these Teabag's ... my question is ... this is all they can come up with as far as a potential crowd for the GOP/ rightee's and proposed platform's? I just dont buy it, their acting almost suicidal, and I'm missing something here, no one who spend's that kind of money is going to be this self destructive, especially with the stealthy crew's they have manipulating some of this shit. No ... I dont trust the right at all, I think there is something I'm missing here.

17 May, 2011 07:44  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nonnie: I hope you're right. Unfortunately I've also seen something of a "crab bucket syndrome" at work in how union workers are viewed. The US needs more worker solidarity.

RC: I'd like to think the flaky quality of the Republican field will doom them, but my point is, we'd be unwise to depend on it. And remember, the Presidential race isn't the only one that counts.

17 May, 2011 08:20  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Thanks for this post, Infidel753. I've sent it around in an email to my far left purist family members.

I hope it will open their unreasonable ears to the truth in what you have written.

I don't know where the extremists in both parties get the idea that one candidate will solve all their problems in the exact way they wish them to be solved.

"Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote."
- George Jean Nathan

17 May, 2011 10:37  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

SK: Thanks. I'd be curious to know what kind of responses you get, if any.

18 May, 2011 04:48  
Blogger Batocchio said...

My guess is that Obama and the Democrats have largely written off the votes of the radical ideological-purist left. That group is, after all, at risk to sit out the election or vote third-party (and in some cases has explicitly threatened to do so) if the Democrats don't deliver on various litmus-test issues, some of which are neither practical nor possible -- and is truculently unmoved by the fact that the Republicans whom they would thus empower are far, far worse.

Infidel, I could use some more detail here. Perhaps you could link some past posts of yours on the subject? There was definitely some of this dynamic before the 2010 mid-term elections, and doubtless there will be again before the 2012 elections. But I'm not sure where you're drawing the line. On most issues, the liberal criticism of Obama and the Dems I've seen has been over not fighting for causes that are both good policy and good politics (e.g. protecting Social Security). Perhaps it depends on what blogs one frequents. Also, in terms of political "realism," there's a key difference between what the public will support and what the Beltway gang wants – but I see these conflated at times. (Personally, I'm strongly in favor of having long-term goals and working toward them, but making the best possible deals in the short-term.) Cheers.

31 May, 2011 10:22  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Batocchio: Examples would include demands for an immediate and precipitous withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of conditions on the ground; claims that Democrats should have held out for a public option or single-payer system as part of health-care reform (popular with the public, but not achievable in the face of Republican filibuster threats); and demands for an illegal-alien amnesty (political suicide when 2/3 of the public supports the Arizona law).

Before the 2010 election I saw each of these proclaimed as a basis for calls for people to not vote, or to vote third-party. Anyone who heeded those calls shares the responsibility for the messes created by Walker and the Republican House majority.

31 May, 2011 10:39  
Blogger Batocchio said...

Ah, okay, thanks. I'm with ya for the most part, but let's recall that the war crowd characterizes any withdrawal as "precipitous," and when the vast majority of peace activists say "immediate withdrawal," that means "as quickly as is safely possible," not "recklessly." I've seen far more realistic assessments of Afghanistan and Iraq from war critics than I ever have from its cheerleaders. It seems the best case COIN strategies would take another decade or more - and that's more detail than Bill Kristol, etc. will ever give. Theirs has never been an honest pitch.

But that's another can of worms. Again, I'd say the way to go is having long-term goals and working toward them, but making the best possible deals in the short-term. Cheers.

31 May, 2011 11:18  

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