A newly released ABC poll reaffirms what many Progressives have known for sometime -- the Democratic Party is in trouble. With two-and-one-half years left in Obama’s presidency, the American people, by a two-thirds majority, have clearly stated that the next president should move the country in a different direction
Nearly two-thirds say they want to see the next president offer different policies and programs than the Obama administration. Less than a third want Obama’s successor to offer a similar agenda.A two-thirds majority, which equals approximately 158 million eligible voters, indicates that less than six years into Obama’s presidency the American electorate is experiencing “Obama fatigue,” the same type of disenchantment that was evident during G. W. Bush’s second term.
But voter fatigue isn’t the only problem facing Democrats in November.
A high percentage of liberals – a significant segment of the Democratic base -- no longer finds the president’s policies acceptable.
In January, Gallup reported:
Many of the changes in the ideological landscape come from the Democratic Party. In 2000, 44 percent of registered Democrats called themselves moderates, while 29 percent said they were liberals and another 25 percent identified as conservative. Since then, though, conservative and moderate factions of the Democratic party have shrunk severely to 19 and 36 percent, respectively.Once again, Digby:
Self-identified liberals are now the largest ideological wing of the party at 43 percent.
Democrats are tired and despondent, not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel for policies that create good jobs or fix inequality. And many voters are having a hard time seeing why, if deficit reduction is so important, they shouldn't just elect a Republican instead.Unfortunately, Democratic leaders seem incapable of learning from their mistakes. That was made evident by their response to the 2010 midterm debacle.
There are some lessons to be learned there.
In an interview, posted today at the Huffington Post, Elizabeth Warren said:
"I've made no secret about my disagreements with the administration's policies, particularly as they relate to the largest financial institutions," Warren told HuffPost Live. "Like I say in the book, the president chose his economic team, and when there was only so much time and so much money to go around, his economic team chose Wall Street instead of American families who were in trouble."
And now, because of those poor choices, the Democratic Party will be blamed for:
…the highest income inequality in modern American history
…a two-tiered judicial system that favors the wealthy, while punishing the most vulnerable people in our society
… a trade agreement that is a conservative wet-dream (the TPP)
…the loss of individual privacy due to NSA spying
…an egregious lack of federal prosecutions for Wall Street criminals and bankers who caused the global financial collapse
…an unwillingness to hold Bush war criminals accountable for their crimes
… failed housing policies (TAMP)
…the bipartisan sequestration
…a long list of broken campaign promises
…blatant lying to the American people about the activities of the NSA.
…drone policies that caused the deaths of many innocent people (plus a refusal to provide an accurate accounting of civilian deaths)
…environmental policies that favor big energy companies – the “all of the above” drilling policy -- including presidential permission granting oil companies the right to drill in sensitive polar regions -- and the president’s support of fracking, a detestable procedure that has caused incredible environmental damage.
…the transformation of our democracy into an oligarchy
…a lack of White House transparency
… loss of protections provided by the 1st, and 4th Constitutional Amendments
…the president’s support of the Chained CPI
…damage inflicted to many beloved Democratic social programs that were won through the courageous struggles of activists during the 60s.
…record numbers of people relying on food stamps to survive.
…an incredible number of homeless people in America
…millions of American children going to bed hungry each night
…the politicization of the Justice Department
…Democratic Representatives who voted against their constituents best interest after receiving millions of dollars in lobbyist money
…the militarization of local police forces
…the largest number of prosecutions against whistle-blowers
…intimidation of media representatives
…failure to counter the crippling effects of the Citizen’s United decision
It’s easy to see that under Obama’s leadership, our political party has experienced a severe identity crisis. None of the preceding policies and actions is representative of Democratic values.
Shortly after the major networks declared Obama the 2012 presidential winner, a friend – a conservative-Republican -- dropped by our house. When he noticed that I was tuned into national election coverage, he asked if the networks had declared a winner. When I told him it was the president, he was dumbfounded. His only source of information had been FOX News, and because their listeners had been fed a constant diet of misinformation, he was certain that Romney would be victorious. I will never forget the look of disillusionment on his face.
Unfortunately, the same type of spin is being posted on many Democratic blogs, including the Daily Kos. Many of the president’s followers are assuring everyone that things are looking up, and we’re on the verge of victory. But anyone attuned to the current political landscape, knows the rhetoric they're offering is just thinly disguised misinformation. A good example is the highly recommended Dkos diary covering the recent good-news article posted by Eugene Robinson.
David Atkins posted this response to Robinson’s article at Hullabaloo:
The problem is, of course, that for most Americans happiness isn't the truth. The economy may have added more jobs and that's definitely good news--but most of the jobs the economy has created over the last few years have been McJobs, and wages are still stagnating. The wage situation is frankly awful.When you look at the current stats, the wage situation is frankly awful. After adjusting for inflation, today’s wages are lower than they were in 1999. The Washington Post has posted an eye-opening article about current wage stagnation here:
The fact that the stock market is doing so well in spite of the economic travesties of the poor and middle class is no comfort or silver lining: it's a huge part of the problem.
If Democrats go into 2014 with happy grins talking about how wonderful everything is, they're going to be in for a world of hurt. People know better, and any further down swing in the economy would be politically devastating to a political party running as if everything had been fixed and set back on track (which, of course, it hasn't been.) A populist message is still the better course by far.
In 2008, the American people gave Obama a very clear mandate: clean up the mess in D.C. and lead our nation in a new direction, but as Elizabeth Warren said, “…when there was only so much time and so much money to go around, his economic team chose Wall Street instead of American families who were in trouble."
Less than six years into his presidency, it is clear that Obama has not fulfilled his mandate.
And now, the American electorate wants to hold us accountable for failing to protect their family’s interests, and who can blame them?
We can continue to pretend that every Democratic failure has been the result of Republican obstructionism, but I think most people are smart enough to know that isn’t the truth. Obama just made too many wrong choices, and too many Democratic representatives failed to resist the temptation to feast on corporate dollars.
The best solution is for members of the Democratic Party to accept responsibility for our elected representative’s failures, and then hold them accountable for their mistakes.
Remember this Dkos article?
These 89 Democrats Voted to Cut $8.7 Billion from Food Stamps
Among the Democratic names listed, supporting the reduction of food stamp benefits for the poor was Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (FL-23), the Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
If you read the 2012 Democratic Party Platform, you will not find a single clause that supports that type of vote; in fact, it is the antithesis of the platform we presented to the American public. And it is impossible to feel good about our party’s direction when Democratic leaders use their votes to make life difficult for the innocent victims of the 2008 financial collapse. Especially, when we saw the same representatives receive large sums of cash donated by the criminals who had caused the global disaster, and it was depressing to see how much support the representatives provided in return -- including aiding and abetting criminal behavior – you can’t find a record of any of them calling for prosecutions, but if you dig deep enough, you can uncover the unbelievable amounts of taxpayer money and tax breaks gifted to criminal bankers and Wall Street CEOs.
From the Examiner:
Who owns Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz? According to recently filed papers with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), just about every major corporation, labor union, and some of the top wage earners in the country. And just today, one of those corporations has refused to talk about what it's getting for its money.So, why is she still leading the DNC? Are we that desperate?
The FEC reports that the Wasserman Schultz campaign is rife with donors spanning PACs of Fortune 500 companies, America’s major labor unions, and professional trade associations; entities that have pumped millions of dollars into the congresswoman’s re-election campaign coffers. Not bad for a self-described ‘average middle class American’ and for someone who’s never worked a day in the private sector.
“Wasserman Schultz has almost doubled her assets since being elected to the U.S. Congress in 2005,” said David Leone, who cited financial disclosures made by the congresswoman. “She owns property in excess of $1 million, leases luxury automobiles for $100,000 per year including a Corvette and an Infinity SUV, and yet claims to be a card-carrying member of the proletariat working class. How is that possible when virtually all of her money and power have come from the public largesse, read ‘taxpayers’?”
In the entertainment industry, where I spent twenty-six years, that type of corruption was called “pay-to-play” and it was considered a prosecutable offense, but millions of Democrats have accepted our party’s leaders corruption without uttering a word of protest. In too many cases, the president’s supporters have even quashed efforts to expose Democratic corruption, and they have created a division within the party that threatens to rear its ugly head during the next presidential election.
But at the end of the day, if we are no better than republicans, if we are that corrupt, then we deserve to lose in November.
And if we continue to support Democratic leaders who choose Wall Street over Main Street, then why shouldn’t voters elect republicans. What’s the difference?
Fortunately, most progressives have reached a saturation point, a place where we know the weight of corruption is destroying American dreams and creating hopelessness. And we are no longer willing to tolerate Party leaders who flippantly dismiss our concerns with the taunt, “where else are they going to go?”
Where else are they going to go? Maybe that is the wrong question. Maybe they should ask when will liberals finally say “enough.”
Unfortunately for the Democratic elite, I think we have reached a point where members of the base are willing to draw a line in the sand.
The collective justification is that if we are to rebuild the Party, then the conservatives who are using our political entity to enrich their pocket books at our expense have to be purged.
And the “lesser of two evils” meme is dead. Corruption on any level is simply corruption, and it is not an acceptable choice. Either Democratic leaders fulfill their responsibilities to their constituents, or the members of the base will withdraw their support.
Many members of the new populist movement are developing alternative methods of wresting control from the criminals in D.C. Bipartisan efforts are reshaping the political landscape at local levels, enabling constituents to build a legal foundation to end the corruption that has overtaken our nation’s capitol.
And despite media and neo-liberal attempts to minimize the significance of Elizabeth Warren’s popularity and the meteoric rise of the populist movement, grass-roots efforts are generating genuine excitement, and rekindling the hope that ordinary citizens can actually make a difference.
In August, Robert Reich wrote this:
Senate Democrats will soon introduce legislation raising it [the minimum wage] nationally to $10.10, from the current $7.25 an hour.In contrast to the ineffective efforts of Democratic leaders to pass a minimum wage bill, socialist councilwoman Kshama Savant is on the verge of pushing through a $15 minimum wage bill in Seattle, a move that would greatly improve the lives of her constituents.
All this is fine as far as it goes. But we need to be more ambitious. We should be raising the federal minimum to $15 an hour. – Robert Reich.
From yesterday’s Guardian:
On the one hand, Kshama Sawant has claimed an “historic victory” for a populist campaign that pressured Seattle’s mayor, politicians and business owners to embrace by far the highest across-the-board minimum wage in the US at $15 an hour.$11,000 a year would be a meaningful increase in income for any American living in poverty.
On the other, the economics professor accuses the Democratic party establishment and corporate interests of colluding to compromise its implementation as the city council on Monday begins to hammer out the terms for setting pay at more than double the federal minimum wage. Sawant is gearing up to put the issue on the ballot in November’s election if the final legislation is not to her liking – a move Seattle’s mayor has warned could result in “class warfare” as it is likely to pit big business against increasingly vocal low-paid workers and to divide the trade unions.
A University of Washington study commissioned by the council said the increase would benefit 100,000 people working in the city and reduce poverty by more than one quarter. The pay of full-time workers on today’s minimum wage would increase by about $11,000 a year.
Obama made the wrong choices when he selected his economic team. And through their machinations, along with the anemic efforts of the president’s Justice Department, his policies gave conservatives an opportunity to convert our democracy into an oligarchy.
From Peter Van Buren:
This Land Isn’t Your Land, This Land Is Their Land: An Empire in Decline (City by City, Town by Town)So, here we are in May, six months before the mid-term elections, facing almost insurmountable odds, while struggling to maintain control of the Senate. We know there is a real possibility that the New Year could usher in a lame duck Obama presidency, and many progressives are concerned that the president will repeat Bill Clinton’s mistakes.
As America's new economy starts to look more like the old economy of the Great Depression, the divide between rich and poor, those who have made it and those who never will, seems to grow ever starker. I know. I’ve seen it firsthand.
Once upon a time, I worked as a State Department officer, helping to carry out the occupation of Iraq, where Washington’s goal was regime change. It was there that, in a way, I had my first taste of the life of the 1%. Unlike most Iraqis, I had more food and amenities than I could squander, nearly unlimited funds to spend as I wished (as long as the spending supported us one-percenters), and plenty of U.S. Army muscle around to keep the other 99% at bay. However, my subsequent whistleblowing about State Department waste and mismanagement in Iraq ended my 24-year career abroad and, after a two-decade absence, deposited me back in “the homeland.”
I returned to America to find another sort of regime change underway, only I wasn't among the 1% for this one. Instead, I ended up working in the new minimum-wage economy and saw firsthand what a life of lousy pay and barely adequate food benefits adds up to. For the version of regime change that found me working in a big box store, no cruise missiles had been deployed and there had been no shock-and-awe demonstrations. Nonetheless, the cumulative effects of years of deindustrialization, declining salaries, absent benefits, and weakened unions, along with a rise in meth and alcohol abuse, a broad-based loss of good jobs, and soaring inequality seemed similar enough to me. The destruction of a way of life in the service of the goals of the 1%, whether in Iraq or at home, was hard to miss.
Will he repeat his repugnant, bi-partisan efforts and move further to the right to gain support of conservative House and Senate members?
It’s almost certain he will garner Republican support for the passage of the TPP, which is an important (albeit corrupt) cog in his agenda.
The Keystone XL pipeline would be approved, and the NSA would find less resistance in their efforts to invade every inch of our daily lives.
The income inequality gap will widen.
Brutal acts against innocent citizens, carried out by militarized American police forces, will increase. Whistle blowers will be prosecuted with even more fervor. The deportation of illegal immigrants will surge. Job numbers will increase, but wages will remain stagnant.
In other words, America will look very much the same as it does now, but with fewer constraints on the criminals.
So, this is a discussion we sorely need. Every new misdeed by our party’s leaders, followed by White House spin, will only push the disenfranchised nearer to the exit door. And if liberals leave the party, then the Democratic Party will move even further to the right, not to the center. Ultimately, it will cease to be an opposition party.
While I welcome Egberto Willies front-page article, It is time to embrace criticisms of the Democratic Party to ensure it lives up to its tenets , the anemic response by Dkos readers and the failure of other front-page writers to follow up with similar articles was not encouraging.
If party leaders are willing to listen, and if Obama followers suspend their efforts to quash dissent, then maybe there is still a chance to find common ground and prevent a split.
But the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.
(all emphasis mine)