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Pundits often talk about how the Democrats have lost working class and middle class white voters since the civil rights legislation in the 60s was passed. The fact is, the Obama presidency and the gargantuan majorities the Democrats had in Congress were an opportunity to win back working and middle class whites for generations to come. But instead of giving those voters clear concise policies that directly benefit them, the Democrats played it safe on the two biggest policy initiatives of the Obama administration and lost big.

All the Democrats had to do in order to win over those voters is to remember that no voting block that receives benefits from the government ever goes to the polls to vote away those benefits.

Seniors always vote to preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare, and if Republicans want their votes the Republicans must take a moderate stance on Social Security and Medicare if they want the senior vote.

The poor always vote to protect Welfare, Medicaid, and Food stamps. Always. If you want poor people's vote you MUST not threaten those programs.

Imagine, then, if you created a program that relieved middle and working class people of a huge financial burden. What if that program gave middle and working class people security that they'd never have to fight with an insurance company for benefits?

Imagine if the Democrats had gone all-in on health care reform. What if the Democrats voted in unison for single-payer health care that would've gone into effect in a matter of months instead of years? Imagine, if they got this done by August of 2009 rather than Febuary 2010? Imagine if the entire country was enrolled in this program by the end of 2009?

Oh yes, the Republicans and tea partiers would've still melted down over "socialism" and "higher taxes." But by March of 2010 most of that meltdown would've eroded, as EVERY member of the public would've benefited. People don't vote against the government benefits they receive. It has never happened in the history of human elections.

Could anyone imagine a situation in which every American, their brothers, their sisters, their children, and grandchildren would've ever marched to the polls voting for candidates talking about "repeal and replace"?

It would never happen. Governing from the left isn't "socialism" it is, if you allow me to coin a term, victory-ism.

Simple as that.

However, what if Obama's first policy initiative had truly been a liberal one. What if none of the stimulus money had been wasted on useless tax cuts. Yes, I know it makes a sweet paean to talk about "middle class tax cuts." But in terms of stimulating the economy, it is useless. And it really does nothing for unemployed workers.

Instead, imagine this. Imagine a stimulus package that was about 1.2 trillion dollars. Imagine if $800 billion of that stimulus was invested in infrastructure investments across the country. I'll leave it to the rest of you to note how badly we could use such investments in our infrastructure. I'll leave it to rest of you to note how our infrastructure is falling behind the modern world, and we are losing out economically because of it. I am not an economist so I couldn't tell you how many jobs we'd create with 800 billion dollars in infrastructure improvements. But I am certain of this --- we wouldn't be talking merely about the jobs saved due to the stimulus, we'd be talking about net gains in employment. And unemployment wouldn't be anywhere near 9.6%.

Yes, I know, Republicans would've squealed even louder about the deficit, and they would've whined even more about socialism and big government. But all those working class families who now had jobs? Who do you think they would've voted for this election?

We on the left often complain about white working class people not voting their own interest. Why do they vote for the party of the wealthy? Number one? We haven't acted in their interest. We haven't given them a reason to be interested in the Democratic Party. Because, as a party, we've offered them nothing more that the Republicans: the culture wars and a tax break. But what if we gave them health care? What if we gave them $800 billion dollars worth of jobs? Then they'd have an interest in us.

We lost this election, and make no mistake about it, we lost it bad, because we governed like the Republicans. The health care bill, which won't go into full effect until 2014, was a Republican health care bill. Bob Dole proposed this kind of thing in 1994. The stimulus bill was loaded down with the most counterproductive and useless of Republican ideas: tax cuts.

We'd still have Alan Grayson in Florida if he could've went to his constituents and say, "see this is why its good to vote for a progressive" while holding up a Medicare-for-all card.

We'd still have Russ Feingold in Wisconsin if he could've pointed to a multitude of infrastructure construction projects in his state and be able to say, "this is what voting for progressive does!"

Look, the party in power always loses about 25 seats in Congress. There's no certainty that a single payer health care system would've prevented that. There's no way to be sure that created millions of jobs would stave off midterm loses in the Senate. But 25 seats wasn't enough to win the House. If the Democrats in Congress acted like real Democrats, there is one thing I am certain of: we'd be looking at the next two years with Democrats in control of the House, the Senate and Presidency. And there's a damned good chance we may be even better off than we were at the start of 2009 both in political terms and economic terms.

Originally posted to RfrancisR on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 12:24 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yup... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Front Toward Enemy

    the 20% of liberals in this country would have voted 4x giving us a large majority.../snark

    Obama - Change I still believe in

    by dvogel001 on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 12:31:59 PM PDT

    •  No, what s/he is saying is that (3+ / 0-)

      liberal policies work, successful policies would attract voters, having more voters would win the election.  Centrists don't understand that, and thats why they got us killed in this election.  What does it take to get you guys to open your eyes and see?

      "Play it LOUD Robbie, Play it fucking loud" Dylan

      by NearlyNormal on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 01:00:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Liberal policies... (0+ / 0-)

        can never pass on a massive scale needed for them to be successful...only incremental change has a chance for in reality world you are wrong...

        Obama - Change I still believe in

        by dvogel001 on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 01:32:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Read much? They could've passed if the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NearlyNormal, RfrancisR

          Dems had voted for them.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

          by enhydra lutris on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 03:28:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not all Democrats... (0+ / 0-)

            are liberals...nor will they ever be...we have a choice a liberal moderate governing coalition or a moderate conservative see what we have chosen

            Obama - Change I still believe in

            by dvogel001 on Thu Nov 04, 2010 at 01:09:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The diarist's point was that these measures could (0+ / 0-)

              have passed if the Democrats had, as a block, voted for them. His misuse of the word liberal is sad, but incorrigibly embedded in our culture today.

              The fact is that few Democrats are liberal. Non-fascists and even anti-fascists are not necessarily communist simply by the fact that they aren't fascists. Similarly, non-reactionaries and non-conservatives are not somehow automatically liberal. This is the language of the media which has adopted the right wing propagandist semantics of dividing the political spectrum into "leftists" and "centrists".

              Many democrats are conservative, favoring the status quo. They might also support the occasional rearward, reactionary move, and even once in a while the occasional leftward, liberal move, but they are generally pretty conservative. If you look at the Democratic party platform, it is written so as to be read as centrist, or conservative, on its face, and as mildly liberal if one looks at it with that mindset.

              We also have racists, h8ers, misogynists, neoliberals and other assorted outright reactionaries. We clearly have more of them than we do of actual liberals and hence, despite what one may try to read into our official platform, the actions of our elected representatives and those appointed by them generally will fall somewhere around updating the status quo to reflect the twentieth century with some embedded concessions to those who prefer the 19th or 16th or even the dark ages.  

              That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

              by enhydra lutris on Thu Nov 04, 2010 at 10:38:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I know it seems counter-intuitive but (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, Front Toward Enemy

    I think Matt Taibbi would disagree with this:

    All the Democrats had to do in order to win over those voters is to remember that no voting block that receives benefits from the government ever goes to the polls to vote away those benefits.

    From his article in Rolling Stone last week, on the Tea Party. The people he's interviewing are in Medicare-supplied scooters:

    "I'm anti-spending and anti-government," crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. "The welfare state is out of control."

    "OK," I say. "And what do you do for a living?"

    "Me?" he says proudly. "Oh, I'm a property appraiser. Have been my whole life."

    I frown. "Are either of you on Medicare?"

    Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!

    "Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"

    "Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."

    "But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"

    "Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much."

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 12:38:16 PM PDT

  •  if the economy were good we would've won. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Citizen

    People can spread around whatever kind of if-they-were-more-left/ if-they-were-more-right horseshit they want to, if it makes them happy, but the fact (and it's one of the few facts in politics) is, when the economy is not good, the party in power loses seats.

    The economy is still not good.  It's recovering, and that's thanks entirely to the Democrats, because Republicans fought against recovery all the way because when they're not in power they don't even want to be Americans anymore... but, Bush dug such a deep crater in the middle of our money-making system (which is broken anyway, and you can thank the fucking Internet for much of that) that nobody could have gotten the economy back where we'd like it to be within two years.  

    I knew we'd lose seats this year, even before Obama got elected.  I said, numerous times, that the bad thing about winning was that we'd end up taking the blame for Bush's messes, because they'd take too long to fix.  So, this was predictable.

    It's not because anybody wasn't "liberal" enough.  Alan Grayson got his clock cleaned and he was about as aggressively liberal as they come (and I liked the guy... or I did up until he manipulated footage in a campaign ad - I don't like being lied to and I don't care who does it).  

    It's the economy...

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 12:44:54 PM PDT

  •  It wasn't about being too liberal or too (0+ / 0-)


    Russ Feingold and the Blue Dogs lost. Blanche Lincoln and Alan Grayson lost.

    The candidates who got out Obama's base by having a consistent record of backing him and his agenda did better.

    Russ was a great guy, but he fought the Obama admin's agenda and he paid for it with an insufficient turnout in the base.

    Blanche made the same mistake.

    The lesson to learn about last night isn't about choosing the liberals or the conservatives, or even playing the middle.

    We could go any of those three directions actually and still win or lose in 2012 because any which way we go, Obama's base will be out to support him.

    Whether they'll support Democrats who fight him is doubtful though.

    It's about unity, not principles at this point. And the only guy with a base worth unifying around is Obama.

    Liberal and conservative Democrats alike will keep losing until they face up to it and if the keep fighting the base's guy.

  •  What's the point of being in power if (3+ / 0-)

    you don't accomplish much?  That's the real issue:  that the Dems are so disappointing because they accomplished very little (despite a filibuster-proof majority) and what little was accomplished was poorly communicated.  I'd much rather lose after going bold than lose or win after doing very little to improve the daily lot of people's lives.

  •  The thing is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anne Elk

    There were never votes for single payer. And even if people had free basic access to healthcare, they still wouldn't have a job at this point. That is why people are pissed. They want jobs. They need jobs. The past two years have been an exercise in futility hoping against hope that one or two republicans would put their country first and buck their party. They never did. Now, hopefully, it's time to play ball.

  •  If you could describe (0+ / 0-)

    a legislative path to single payer, I'd be interested. Not only a Republicans totally opposed to anything like it, but so are most of the Democrats in Congress. Look, I like single payer. I am from a single payer country. But it will never fly in the USA. That's just a fact. I wish fervently that it were otherwise.

    The core problem in the US healthcare system is, perhaps surprisingly, that there are too many HMO's - about 1600 last time I checked. The problem with that is that HMO's tend not to have a given customer for a long time. So they have no reason to try to keep that person healthy. Systems with a longer term investment in their patients, like Kaiser, tend to put more money into primary care that is a lot cheaper than sickness care. So one answer for the USA, failing a single payer system, is to strongly encourage mergers of HMO's until we have only 4-6 HMO's in the country. The stability of each HMO's population will make primary and preventative care expand, sickness care contract somewhat and thereby lower costs. You might be thinking that having more HMO's competing would be a good thing, right? 1600 HMO's all competing with each other? The problem is that they aren't. HMO's tend to be localized State by State. They usually have only 1-2 competitors and big employers tend to choose big HMO's. So an employee only has the choice of perhaps 2 HMO's. So we already have lack of competition. What we don't have is true economies of scale, organization and long-term stability in the patient population.

    •  I think you're right. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anne Elk

      Obama specifically said that IF we were starting from scratch, he would advocate a single-payer system, but that since we aren't, we have to work to improve the system we have.

      I didn't do it. Nobody saw me. You can't prove anything. --Bart Simpson

      by DreamyAJ on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 01:18:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The issue, of course, is how (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to do that. I am in the middle on this issue. The problem with the HCR Act is that it increased access with very little idea of how to control costs. Yes, there are some efforts in that regard. But there is no really significant cost curve bending in there. And maybe it's a gut feeling that people have that is driving disapproval of HCR. I don't know too many people who really like it.

        My feeling is that it loses sight of the goal of health care. The goal of health care is to keep people healthy not primarily to take care of people who are sick. We have a very unhealthy nation. That's what is being ignored. Starting in 1973 when Congress started directly subsidizing farmers and turning them into Republicans, the USA has been buried in mountains of really cheap, calorie-rich food that has sparked a massive health crisis. So the obvious answer, as part of the healthcare debate, is to propose phasing out direct subsidies in favor of the older New Deal loan program. So, what looks like an agriculture issue is really a healthcare issue. That's why I think that the legislation we got doesn't really fix the problem.

        I am sure you could get Rand Paul to vote for ending agricultural subsidies, BTW! He hates government handouts. Let him explain to Kentucky farmers why he voted to end them!

        •  I think the primary problem (0+ / 0-)

          with healthcare is that it shouldn't be a for-profit undertaking. Full disclosure: I work in healthcare, in information technology, for a nonprofit/charitable organization.

          I didn't do it. Nobody saw me. You can't prove anything. --Bart Simpson

          by DreamyAJ on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 01:56:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think we all agree with that (0+ / 0-)

            but, as we have been saying, that specific issue is effectively off-the-table. Americans do not want a single payer system whatever its merits. So the issue is how we make a for-profit system work better.

            •  Well, single-payor and not-for-profit (0+ / 0-)

              are pretty separate. If hospitals and clinics had to operate as nonprofits, that doesn't mean they would disappear, and prices might not drop much, if at all. There are lots of them already. But making the insurance companies nonprofit, like the sister company to the one I work for (which provides my health insurance), is certainly doable and I think it would decrease costs.

              On single-payor though, I really think that people are in favor of it when they truly understand what it is. After all, Medicare is single-payor. But the Rush Limbaughs out there scared a lot of people about government intervention in their health care decisions, and death panels, and rationing. There can be no legitimate debate with people who insist on defining "government run healthcare" as anything where the government contributes a single dollar.

              The thing is, people don't seem to understand what government is, what it is for, and what it accomplishes. They don't understand, despite presumably taking government classes in high school, that we have a representative government, not an authoritarian dictatorship. They don't understand what the "general welfare" is, nor that a major purpose of government is the [re-]distribution of resources.

              I guess what I'm saying is that until the people understand what is in their own best interests, nothing can change substantively. How many of them would like to give up their 40-hour work weeks, and time-and-a-half for overtime (if they are hourly)? But would they acknowledge that the unions brought about these things? Alas no.

              Sorry for the long rant!

              I didn't do it. Nobody saw me. You can't prove anything. --Bart Simpson

              by DreamyAJ on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 03:09:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's OK. I like long rants! (0+ / 0-)

                I hear what you are saying. But I remember the CA campaign for single payer and SF County was the only one that voted for it. CA is a blue state. So I just don't have any real confidence, no matter how well you explained it, that the average American would vote for it, even without the huge money that would be spent to defeat it. But I do think that we can take the system we have and make some intelligent adjustments where the money interests are on our side instead of against us.

                •  I'm a displaced Californian, and I know what (0+ / 0-)

                  you mean, because when I was a Republican, my votes pretty much didn't count for anything.

                  However, being a Democrat is no bar to stupidity or ignorance. Look how many times Jane Harman has been elected. Not to mention Arnold and many others who have managed to screw up California over the years. At least Jerry is back.

                  I didn't do it. Nobody saw me. You can't prove anything. --Bart Simpson

                  by DreamyAJ on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 04:05:38 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  I'm confused. How come the majority (0+ / 0-)

    of voters are retired or nearing retirement, yet they voted in Republicans who want to raise the retirement age, cut Social Security benefits, privatize Social Security, and cut Medicare?

    I didn't do it. Nobody saw me. You can't prove anything. --Bart Simpson

    by DreamyAJ on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 01:19:25 PM PDT

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