I see this with disturbing frequency here on Daily Kos and elsewhere in the leftwing blogosphere: 'Obama the sell-out'. 'Obama the mediocrity'. 'Obama is in trouble with his base, meaning me'. 'Liberals are unhappy.'
To which I say, get over yourself already.
First of all, you - and me - are not 'the base', whatever that mythical construct is. This site skews whiter, older, more educated, more male, than the nation at large and the Democratic voter base. Last I heard, roughly 4% of Kossacks are African-American, and dwindling, apparently; in the primary electorate of the party, their numbers are closer to 30%. The fastest-growing demographic in the Republic, Hispanics, are 1% here, 15% out there. Many or most Democratic voters, and certainly politicians, have never even heard of you, or me. And that is as it should be.
The people who 'really' make up the base aren't the ones who spend their days rending their garments on the blogs or on cable TV. 'The base', the real base this time, are the people in the unions, the local Democratic orgs, in the churches, synagogues and mosques, and on college campuses, military bases, workplaces and unemployment lines across America. They are the people facing foreclosures or just plain thrilled that America still has an auto industry, or that Osama bin Laden is no longer among the living. They are the people who can't feed their kids without damned food stamps, those among us who have nothing left to lose. These people are the base of the Democratic Party, and they're the ones - together with independent voters - that will, one hopes, win us the next election. These people, for better or worse, will fail quite a few of our Progressive purity tests. They simply don't have the luxury to even consider them.
And what of it? They have as many votes as you or I do: one. So do independents, by the way. Alienating them, telling them they're just not damned good enough for our tastes, will bring us what benefit exactly? How does it give them, or us, what we desperately need, hope?
But we are the Progressive vanguard, are we not, you may ask. Our variant of the vanguard of the proletariat, as it were. Ours is the task of leading the nation to the shores of light.
Well, not really. What we are is an unrepresentative sample. You think Barack Obama is too conservative? Great, you're ten percent of the population. For every one who thinks that, there are four and a half Americans, statistically speaking, who think the exact inverse: that he's too liberal. Good luck winning an election with numbers like that. As an aside, among Democrats, the President's approval numbers in the aggregate are 79%, among self-identified liberals, 86%.
But being a Progressive is about creating change, is it not, and there hasn't been enough of that under this 'mediocre President'. And you know what? That's actually a fair point.
'Fair', however, is not the same thing as 'relevant'. What is relevant is this simple fact: the 2012 election, the one where we're fighting to keep the White House and Senate and to retake the House, is upon us. Not next year. The first shot, the Iowa Presidential straw poll for our less than esteemed colleagues across the aisle, was fired on August 13th - 2011.
Correct, that's about a week ago. And now we're seeing the other side beginning to display, in the flickering light of our television screens, just how deranged and downright dangerous they are. We're dealing with people who sincerely believe that our Constitution, the document that has governed this Republic for over two centuries, however imperfectly, needs to be replaced with the more odious parts of the Bible, the ones custom-picked by them, one might add. That would be, I suggest, a terrible idea, and not just because I personally could end up being stoned to death under Levitical law, which really would be rather unpleasant. The game is on, folks.
And how we play it, and whether or not we play it to win, will determine whether we still have President Obama to kick around - or not, in which case, get ready for President Mitt Perrygrich or that Minnesota head case, a few more Supreme Court Justices in the Scalia mold, and maybe another war or two. Perhaps, just to pull a name out of a hat, Iran. That would be World War Three right there, a great thing if you're into unimaginable bloodbaths, a cataclysm if you're not. Say fare thee well to the right to choose, whatever advances LGBT Americans have made under this administration, consumer protection of any kind, our already threadbare social safety net, any ban on offshore drilling, the Clean Air Act, affordable college loans, green energy, even tiny steps on global climate change, and pretty much everything else we as Progressives hold dear. We won't move ahead, however hesitantly, or even stay in place: we will regress. If you want a preview of that, look to Wisconsin, and imagine that fiasco played out with the immense resources and measureless power of the Federal government as its precipitating agent.
Of course, there are people, even here, who think disaster might have its advantages. You know, like the last time around, when Bush was just the same thing as Gore, when Al Gore just wasn't good enough. That worked out really well for the country, didn't it?
Well, no, it didn't. The Bush pResidency was a disaster, for this country and the world, and all the misery it inflicted didn't produce that bright shining moment when America revolted into a Progressive utopia. Newsflash: that utopia is not going to happen; there's a reason the word comes from the Greek phrase for 'no such place'. Maybe in 2012, we can avoid making the 2000 mistake again. Or maybe, we'll continue to let some idealized, glittering version of the best distract us from the good we can achieve.
It's our call.
11:40 AM PT: Just to be really clear here: it's not my intention to get into a fight about whose views are more valuable or relevant. My issue is this: all too often, we here in the Progressive echo chamber make one fundamental error: we assume that our policy and personel preferences are those of the rest of the Party. Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not.
That's not 'neo-liberal', whatever that even means, it's an observation grounded in fact.
4:04 PM PT: Well, thank you, everyone, for the vigorous conversation. Meanwhile, in the hope that some calm can be restored - and because it wouldn't be an MBNYC diary without some electronic music - here's a classic piece of Trance, Lustral's Everytime.