Thursday, April 7, 2011

Greenwald Connects The Dots

There should be a picture of a wolf here Caption: The symbol of Democratic Party politics these days, because I can't find a public domain picture of a woman in a sleigh throwing her children to the wolves.

Image credit: Arrr!.

In an essay at Salon Tuesday, Glenn Greenwald connects the dots for all those people who think that the way to make the country more progressive is to vote for the Democratic Party, no matter what:
About that point, Rachel [Maddow] 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.
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.

The impotence of the loyal partisan voter
I'll just break in here to say that I agree with him that this is the most important single political question. None of the solutions the current crop of conservatives are offering is going to get us out of the mess we're in. There may be times when conservatism has something to offer, but that's definitely not true now. Their economic ideas, which are, of course, parroted by Democratic politicians who want to appear "serious", are nonsense. So are their ideas on health care and education. In all three areas, the world has conducted a laboratory experiment on those ideas, and they've been demonstrated to be the utter failures that anyone with any sense could have told them they were.

We're paying the price for those ideas already.

Anyway, back to Greenwald:
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.

The impotence of the loyal partisan voter
Progressives get kicked in the teeth for the simple reason that they keep taking it. If progressives want power, they need to start telling Democratic politicians that their support is not unconditional, and sticking to that promise when the time comes, instead of caving in. If progressives don't like what a Democratic politician is doing, they have not just the right, but the obligation, to make that politician unemployed.

I've pointed most of this out before, if not all of it. Here's a succinct quote:
[DC Democrats] aren't taking politics to the right because that's where America is going. They're taking politics to the right because that's where the money is. Those big corporations aren't going to drop campaign funds into the campaign coffers of the kind of politician who will watch out for the little guy. Despite blog activism and Act Blue, there's not much money there, and I doubt there will be as long as the income disparity continues as it is in America.

They're also taking politics to the right, as I've pointed out many, many times, because progressives don't demand that their politicians be progressives, where conservatives aren't foolish enough to accept progressivism from their politicians. Politicians will chase the power that can go elsewhere. Progressives don't change their votes - they can always be counted on to vote out of fear of the Other Guys, and any national politician who doesn't know that was probably appointed to his job.

On Moving Rightward
Or, as Wonk The Vote put it last year:
The only way the Democrats will learn to stop punching a hippie is if the grassroots will stop voting for them. This is why I am an independent. It’s not because I have forgotten how terrible the GOP is. It’s because I want the Democratic party to be an actual alternative to the GOP. I don’t want to be punched by two wings of the same corporate-controlled political system. I certainly won’t vote for one “party” over the other to continue punching the grassroots.

If you don’t want to be punched, don’t vote for a hippie-puncher
It really is that simple. To quote a cliche, it's not easy, but it is simple.

There are worse things than having Republicans run things for a while. One of those worse things is the situation we're in now, thanks to two decades of progressives not exercising their power to decide - a country in which there is no hope that either major party will do what needs to be done to stop our slide into permanent economic depression and perpetual war, with all the attendant problems if racism, crime, and loss of civil liberties.

It's nice of Glenn to try to connect the dots for progressives. Sadly, I think they're too stupid to recognize the picture, even when someone else has already done all that complicated math.


Anonymous said...

perhaps its time to set yourselves free...

lawguy said...

I would think given how appros the sleigh thing is it would be all over. I've tried to find it too. Perhaps you should instead look for a frog in water?

At any rate nowthat we see what republicans are really like anymore when given power I would not be surprised if the neo-liberals make a come back. People might well vote for them on the theory that they are not as bad as the other guys. Hell given my age they may be able to put off the collapse until after I'm dead. Now that is a hell of a thing to vote for.

Suzanne said...

sad but true words cujo

Cujo359 said...

Anonymous @ 4:47

It's an idea worth considering.

Cujo359 said...

lawguy - there are days I just feel like making sure that I'm taken care of, and let all the folks who think that we're idiots for thinking this way figure out how they're going to deal with having no Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security, and no jobs that will support being able to afford similar services from the private sector. We're headed that way, and I doubt it will be more than a decade before the Democrats accomplish it.

Cujo359 said...

Yes, Suzanne, it really is sad that they're true. I wish sometimes that I was crazy for thinking this way.