Hope I'm wrong. But when I see progressives clinging to threads of hope (e.g. "Democratic early voting higher than expected") it reminds me of the empty confidence exhibited by Fox News and Red State (etc) prior to November 2008.
This country is driven by emotions, not facts. And the emotions currently do not favor us.
Of course the main culprit is the Bush economy, but I also blame the widespread abandonment of Obama by his base. Because, wallowing in our righteous indignation, we have utterly failed to do our job.
Why am I inviting flames now of all times?
Because the impact of the nihilistic narrative that we've helped create is dire. It affects real people who are suffering. And it won't get better until the narrative changes. I have little doubt that, sooner or later, big majorities will appreciate who Obama is and what he's done. But if that day doesn't arrive for five or six more years, we will have sacrificed great opportunities for progressive change. And that would be a travesty.
Just like we did in junior high, we Americans function by piling on, by casually endorsing the dominant narratives out there.
If you, as a blogger, don't admit to your role in fashioning these narratives, you are not just letting yourself off the hook for damage done, you are also disempowering yourself. If you limit your job description to sniping in the service of "holding his feet to the fire" you are ignoring the greater role you play in shaping the big picture and regulating the flow of political capital.
My perspective is grounded in the real world. I am regularly around "ordinary" folks of all political persuasions, and I hear the way they assimilate conventional wisdom. I see the origins of their skin-deep convictions.
You know it, and I know: most Americans care nothing about details. They are content to pile on -- with less personal investment than they allow for their favorite football teams.
Most voters - particularly the swing voters - aren't as well-informed as they might be on major policy issues. What they do have are experiences and instincts and emotions that politicians play upon in order to win elections.
What I'm hearing from "ordinary" voters these days is purely emotional. This emotionalism parrots the media narratives that are informed by us. If we weren't so damned intent on proving what a sellout Obama is, the polls would look different, the pundits would talk differently, and spineless Dems up for election wouldn't be running with their tails between their legs.
The dirty little secret is that most Americans don't really know what they think about the issues that so animate the political conversation in Washington, and what they think they know about them is often wrong.
So, of course, you blame Obama for not communicating better.
But Axelrod had it right on Countdown last night. He pointed out that the administration's time has been monopolized putting out some pretty major fires.
We were faced with a series of crises we haven't seen since the great depression.... If we're guilty of something I would say we're guilty of focusing on the job we were elected to do. And perhaps not focusing enough on how we got credit for the job. But that was perhaps a consequence of the times in which we were elected to govern. We didn't have the luxury of having a great deal of time tooting our horn and doing victory laps. We had one after another serious issues, and we've dealt with them, and we want to continue moving the country forward.
Sure, messaging is important, but when you're trying to keep the country from going down in flames, you hope and expect other messengers might just have your back. Axelrod gently suggested to fill-in host Cenk Uygur that people like Uygur -- people in the messaging business -- could pick up some of that slack, especially in emergencies.
But people in the progressive communication business -- people we might describe as the "professional left" -- have decided it's more important to prove how right they are about this or that issue, strategy, or tactic. (I suspect many in the business are still trying to prove they were right not to support Obama in the first place.)
Obama may have made some mistakes. How could any president not? But the professional left has, indeed, utterly failed this administration, this country, and, especially, those of us who are most in need.
Critics accuse me of believing we should blindly support everything Obama does, and never hold his feet to the fire. They say I must not think unresolved issues are important. That I don't care about gay rights or civil liberties. This is the farthest thing from the truth. And our president has made it clear he welcomes pressure. All I'm saying is that we should be MUCH smarter about our tactics. FAR less reactive, and FAR more productive. Just as the administration recognizes there's a time and place for getting each thing done -- everything simply cannot happen at once -- we should recognize there's a time and place for productive opposition. And there's a way to do it while still nurturing the big-picture narrative that this absurd country feeds on hook, line, and sinker.