The Wall Street tycoons masquerading as Democrats over at Third Way have some advice for real Democrats:
After sweeping to congressional majorities in 2006 and electing a president in 2008 with the largest Democratic percentage of the popular vote since Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrats are now in danger of becoming an irrelevant party.
After the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, saddled with members who wouldn't vote for a middle class tax cut for fear of angering the Third Way types, Democrats will face a roughly 50-vote deficit in the House, which is less than the GOP had in this Congress. How irrelevant are Republicans?
With their control of the Senate and White House, of course they’ll remain central to the public debate over the next two years. But the liberal cognoscenti who dominate the Democratic Party have proclaimed that Tuesday’s debacle was caused by President Barack Obama and a Congress that didn’t move far enough left. If this argument prevails, it’s Mondale-vile for Democrats for a long time.
Returns show, once again, that the voters who drive elections are self-identified moderates and independents, and largely middle class. They ran for the hills this cycle.
PPP asked independents who did vote in 2010 who they had supported in 2008. The results: Fifty one percent of independents who voted this time supported McCain last time, versus only 42 percent who backed Obama last time. In 2008, Obama won indies by eight percent.
That means the complexion of indies who turned out this time is far different from last time around, argues Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. His case: Dem-leaning indys stayed home this time while GOP-leaning ones came out -- proof, he insists, that the Dems' primary problem is they failed to inspire indys who are inclined to support them.
It's all part of the intensity gap. And the intensity gap didn't happen because the Democrats were too activistic and liberal.
Back to Wall Street guys at Third Way:
The stampede was fueled not only by anxieties over a troubled economy but by independents’ continued search for a political party that governs from the center. After rejecting Sen. John McCain – and the Bush legacy – as too right wing, and supporting Obama by 8 points, these restless Independents voted against Democratic gubernatorial candidates by more than 30 points in 2009. And they continued to flee from Democrats yesterday.
To woo them back, reclaim the center and assure electoral and governing relevance in 2012 and beyond, Democrats must make a big change: become the economic growth party. They must shift from being a party that seeks an expanded safety net to one obsessed about increasing the economic pie.
This means ditching economic populism, offering robust pro-growth policies and embracing fiscal responsibility. It also means taking on some sacred cows – like downsizing federal employee pensions
Twenty-two of Third Way's board members hail from the financial sector, and Wall Street certainly fears economic populism. Of course they want to ditch it! But that has nothing to do with wanting the Democrats to win, and everything to do with protecting their monster slice of the American economy (even as they demand that pensioners lose their promised retirement benefits). In reality, no one gives a shit about deficits -- except those who want to use them as an excuse to destroy the government's social net. If unemployment stood at 5% today, all the deficits in the world would've meant nothing.
Look, the bottom line is that you have a group of corporatist Democrats that watered down Democratic legislation because they argued it was necessary to win their districts. They got wiped out. Their prescription for survival, one which had pernicious effect on Democratic effectiveness the last two years, was proven to be a loser.
Ruy Teixeira, no lefty firebrand, has a better post-mortem on the election results, and one predicated entirely on exit poll data, not raw ideology like the corporatist Third Way guys:
Independent voters, white working-class voters, seniors, and men broke heavily against the Democrats due to the economy. Turnout levels were also unusually low among young and minority voters and unusually high among seniors, whites, and conservatives, thus contributing to a massively skewed midterm electorate. The Democrats therefore faced a predictable, and arguably unavoidable, convergence of forces. Incumbent Democrats suffered a genuine backlash of voter discontent due to a weak economy with considerable concerns about job creation, deep skepticism among independents, poor turnout among key base groups, and strong enthusiasm among energized conservatives.
This part is particularly salient for the Third Way guys:
More voters (35 percent) blamed Wall Street for today’s economic problems rather than President Bush (29 percent) or President Obama (23 percent). But these Wall-Street-blaming voters supported Republicans by 56 percent to 42 percent. The Obama administration’s association with bailing out Wall Street bankers, who are heavily blamed for the bad economy, apparently had a negative effect on Democratic performance in this election.
No freakin' shit. Allegiance to Third Way-style politics not only cost Democrats amongst the base, but also cost Democrats among those who rightfully see a greedy Wall Street as a cause of our economic collapse.
Given that Wall Street dominates Third Way board of directors, these are the last people that Democrats should be listening to. Like the Blue Dogs, those who lost big this election, or who helped push the policies that led to these defeats, are the last ones who should be flapping their yaps.