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It seems like a very popular rebuttal to any substantive criticism of Congressional Democrats or the Obama administration is met with a "see how President Palin will work out" rebuttal – as if the "they are worse than we are" argument which did so well in 2004 and has led to the frustration of many on the left after the 2006 and 2008 Democratic victories is going to magically will the same first time voters and previously dedicated progressive activists to leap to action time and time again.

Anyone who thinks that this will be effective and anyone who uses this argument is sorely mistaken and in for a rude awakening.  Anyone who wants to use a "laundry list" of things that have been accomplished which may or may not include some of the more important issues to Democrats, liberals, progressives or independents is also in for a rude awakening.

Voters don’t respond to "laundry lists".  They respond to how they feel about what is going on – and that is what needs to be shaped and changed for the many disenchanted voters and activists.  I’ll give you a perfect example from right here in my home state of NJ:

John Adler (NJ-3) was a very solid State Senator, and had a ton of activist grassroots netroots progressive support in becoming the first Democratic Congressman from this district in decades.  He has moved so far to the right – actively fighting against HCR and using right wing talking points on a number of other issues – that the very same activists who took time away from friends, family and work (not to mention donating money) are just not going to do that again.  Sure, they will probably vote for Adler, but what about all of the people they convinced via phonebanking and canvassing?  And now, it looks pretty safe to say that Adler will lose his seat to former NFL goon, Jon Runyan – someone who didn’t even register as a Republican until right before declaring his candidacy.

And the NJ Democratic Party is defending Adler with the same "Adler is better than Runyan" argument – which is a loser.  People want to vote FOR someone and not just against the other guy.  

I’ll give another example from NJ.  Jon Corzine was a pretty progressive Governor on many issues.  But he wasn’t very articulate in public and was fairly aloof to many.  He wasn’t "in with" the NJ Democratic Party structure and his laundry lists of accomplishments fell on deaf ears.  Chris Christie was and is a fraud Bush crony, but Corzine didn’t make people WANT to vote for him , didn’t have an effective message from the top of the campaign and it was very difficult to get volunteers motivated to canvass or phonebank.  And guess what – he lost.

Those who think that "polls show that Democrats and Obama are doing well enough" aren’t talking to people on the ground.  I am doing a lot of work over the past 2 years right in my Congressional District (NJ-5) on a Congressional level and there are a number of grassroots organizations who were very active in 2008 who are not thrilled with what is going on now in Congress.  Sure, many of those votes will be there – but will these people be taking the time away from their jobs, family and friends, or donate money to campaigns on a federal, state or local level that will put Democrats over the top?  Not as likely.

What is even more ironic is that the same people right here on Daily Kos who have excoriated me and others who dare point this out don’t realize that this is not my fault or the other angry activists’ fault – it is the fault of those who (1) have not lived up to what they said they would do or have fallen far short of what was expected when so much time and money and energy was dedicated to electing them and (2) those who right here on Daily Kos mock and point fingers without facing reality.

Voters have priorities.  And for politicians to earn the votes and time, energy and money from voters takes actions.  Unfortunately, right now there is a lack of motivation by activists because they don’t feel like the politicians have lived up to their end of the deal.

And no amount of mockery or ridicule by people here is going to change that.  The sooner everyone realizes this and the sooner that a winning message and actions are taken, the better off Democrats will be.  But until then, pretending that this doesn’t exist and a "President Palin" argument will convince no one and won’t make it go away.

Originally posted to clammyc on Sun Apr 11, 2010 at 07:22 AM PDT.

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