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There is a narrative here that the U.S. electorate contains a silent progressive majority which is disappointed with President Obama. In this narrative, the reason Obama's approval ratings are down and that Democrats face a difficult 2014 election cycle is that Obama, and Democrats as a whole, have not fought sufficiently hard for progressive priorities. Apparently, if the party moves hard to the left, the mass of Americans who don't vote will jump on board, because what they're really waiting for is an alternative which is farther to the left than the current Democratic party.

This is wishful thinking compounded by the echo chamber effect of Daily Kos. There is no silent progressive majority. There are some issues where progressives have majority support and other issues where conservatives have majority support. Like it or not, we have to fight for progressive change on uneven ground, where we have the advantage on some issues but not on others. I'll discuss why and how to do that below the fold.

First, a review of the issues. A lot of people who argue for the Silent Progressive Majority Theory (SPMT for short) point, correctly, to polls that show the American people are with us on a lot of issues. For example, 60-70% of people think that rich people and corporations pay too little in taxes. There are similar numbers on the beneficial effects of Social Security; chained CPI is unpopular, though you can get people to support it if you frame the question in a certain way (at the link, see the Bloomberg poll from Feb. 2013). Other polls show widespread support for raising the minimum wage, and even for the general proposition that government should do more to combat income inequality (high 50s in the WaPo poll linked above).

Unfortunately, there are other issues where we don't have the same widespread support. Constructing the Keystone XL pipeline is enormously popular, supported 65-22. School prayer is extremely popular as well - it gains majority support even when the question is framed in a very friendly way ('whether state/local governments should be allowed to require the reading of the Lord's Prayer or Bible verses in public schools'). And on one of the most central ideological issues of the last 40 years, the role of government, people prefer a smaller government providing fewer services to a bigger government providing more services. And it's not close.

In the face of this polling, the SPMT does not stand up to scrutiny. In reality, there is no silent progressive majority. Rather, the silent majority in American politics is non-ideological. Their views on the issues are neither purely ideologically progressive or purely ideologically conservative; they depend a great deal on how the question is asked, and how the issues are framed. And sometimes they depend on what day of the week it is.

This is both bad news and good news. It's bad news in that the simplest solution - just moving to the left across the board - isn't going to work. But it's good news in that framing matters and public opinion is flexible. People can be convinced to support progressive priorities.

So how do we do that? How do we create progressive change in non-ideal conditions?

First off, we take the issues where people agree with us and push them. There's a reason the central plank in the 2014 Democratic agenda is the minimum wage. It's incredibly popular.  We should be running on strengthening Social Security, rather than on chained CPI (fortunately, that seems to have sunk in). And we should darn well be running on a platform of higher taxes for the rich (we've actually been doing that for years - their tax rates have gone up substantially since 2008). And yes, we should supplement the electoral politics with activism to raise awareness of inequality. Overall, OWS was an important success in that regard.

Second, on the issues where we don't have majority support, we need a combination of activism, electoral politics where possible, and good-old-fashioned changing minds. Keystone XL is one example - putting outside pressure on Obama (who is not up for re-election and thus might respond to that pressure) seems to be working fairly well, despite the popular headwinds. As another example, consider school prayer (or government prayer in general). Pretty much anywhere in this country outside of a few big cities, running against school prayer is political suicide. The best we can hope for is politicians who say they're for school prayer but then turn around and appoint Supreme Court justices who make sure it doesn't come back (cough cough Kagan). In the long term, we need to make people realize why organized school prayer is a really bad idea, but we're going to have to fight that fight on a local level, without help from our politicians.

Ultimately, the biggest mistake of the SPMT is that it oversimplifies both the problems we face and the solutions we need. It's certainly convenient to believe that all that is needed to fix our problems is to stand up as strongly as possible for what we believe in. However, the reality is that we face a complex set of problems with an uncertain and sometimes unfriendly electorate. It's a tough fight. But if we don't fool ourselves about the magnitude of the challenges we face, it's one we can win.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It sounds like you have one issue (21+ / 0-)

    that progressives are pushing electorally that isn't popular, KXL. And I'd bet that very few people would switch because of that, especially if the president said "I'm not going to sign this because it will raise gas prices in the US. Which is true.

    Otherwise the public overwhelmingly supports the progressive position on virtually every major issue. Taxes, public option, saving social security, etc. Immigration is probably the only issue that is in a weird place right now.

    But there isn't a silent progressive majority, there's a bunch of leftists who think the Dems are weak on everything. Going for the mushy middle is always a failure.  Tacking to the left is a proven winner.

    No War but Class War

    by AoT on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:10:19 PM PDT

      •  Yeah, Americans are incredibly racist (18+ / 0-)

        when it comes to foreign affairs. They're fine with killing brown people. But people care a hell of a lot more about domestic issues, especially the economy, than about drones.

        Anti-war is indeed a losing progressive issue unless it's a war that the US is losing.

        Of course, the drone issue is purely up to Obama, not much of an electoral issue at this point.

        No War but Class War

        by AoT on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:21:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well if that's the motive you want ascribe to it (6+ / 0-)

          I suppose anything that makes you feel better.

          Then again it's not just "brown people" that become terrorists. Further this has a distinct aspect of goal shifting. You tried to claim "it is just keystone pipeline" I have demonstrated this isn't true.

          And it's very much an electoral issue Obama made a point of mentioning more than a few times while campaigning.

          Der Weg ist das Ziel

          by duhban on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:24:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know that I'd use the word "racist," since (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT, quill, Dr Swig Mcjigger

          especially because that is a word being thrown around here for many different issues, most recently re OWS.  It's not a serious discussion on race, just (fill in the blank.)

          I agree that people who are living paycheck to paycheck, just trying survive don't care about what happens in the rest of the world -- they care about making an affordable living and being able to care for their family with shelter, food, and love.  And when our taxpayer money is being spent in other countries and the MIC and SIC and DOD, people get angry and upset that that money isn't being spent here in the U.S. for job creation, i.e., infrastructure, NOT cutting food stamps or help with paying utility bills and not closing tax loopholes, just to name a very few issues here in the "homeland."

          Dallasdoc: "Snowden is the natural successor to Osama bin Laden as the most consequential person in the world, as his actions have the potential to undo those taken in response to Osama."

          by gooderservice on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:54:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In terms of international affairs (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gooderservice, poco, Chi

            The racism is blatantly obvious. Especially in terms of who we bomb.

            No War but Class War

            by AoT on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:59:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't agree. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              smartdemmg, Dr Swig Mcjigger

              Dallasdoc: "Snowden is the natural successor to Osama bin Laden as the most consequential person in the world, as his actions have the potential to undo those taken in response to Osama."

              by gooderservice on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:00:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Not just international affairs, AoT. (6+ / 0-)

              That is the case even in case of domestic issues.

              The dominant narrative is that those "cheaters on welfare" who take away what is "rightfully ours" are the real problem. And if we had a smaller government then the govt. would not be pandering to all those who buy T-Bone steaks on food stamps.

               We all know when Thom Tillis (Speaker of NC) says this and wins, what exactly he and all the others, including just about every Republican, means when they say that. These are not dog-whistles, these are air raid sirens on racism.

              This is a deeply racist country and anybody who doesn't see that is absolutely not seeing the reality that surrounds us.

              It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

              by poco on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:11:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  More so in domestic affairs (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                duhban, AoT, poco

                No doubt whatsoever that this is a racist country at home.  But we've sort of run out of Europeans who want to wage war, so...brown it is.

                I think Israel (and/or AIPAC) has a large and problematic influence on our foreign policy and legislation as it relates to Iran and the Middle East. Since I've been hidden for saying this, I expect to be hidden every time I post with this sig.

                by Black Mare on Wed May 07, 2014 at 06:38:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  I think it's a more general (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dr Swig Mcjigger, duhban

              sense of the "other."

              In WWII it was Germans as well  as Japanese.

              Russians were demons of the Cold War, but they're white.

              We bomb tan people now because most Europeans aren't into war these days.  Ukraine is a recent development.

              I think Israel (and/or AIPAC) has a large and problematic influence on our foreign policy and legislation as it relates to Iran and the Middle East. Since I've been hidden for saying this, I expect to be hidden every time I post with this sig.

              by Black Mare on Wed May 07, 2014 at 06:28:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The comparison between how germans and japanese (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                poco

                in the US during WWII were treated offers pretty stark evidence of racism.

                No War but Class War

                by AoT on Wed May 07, 2014 at 08:24:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Americans sure didn't oppose (0+ / 0-)

                  the bombing of Germany. And way more Germans were killed by allied bombings than Japanese were.

                  •  The internment of the japanese would be the (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    poco

                    racism I was refering too. We bombed both countries. We interned huge numbers of Japanese people in America. The racism is blatantly obvious.

                    No War but Class War

                    by AoT on Thu May 08, 2014 at 07:46:09 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  except we interned Germans, Italians and others (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dr Swig Mcjigger

                      as well.

                      Generally speaking the rules were thrown out the window in the name of national security (much like I would add like with most wars). I just can not see any evidence for the vast majority of Americans being racist on this AoT.

                      Der Weg ist das Ziel

                      by duhban on Thu May 08, 2014 at 08:47:30 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  About 1/100th as many (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        poco

                        as we interned Japanese. You need to learn your history. I can't believe you would argue that we weren't incredibly racist during WWII. The difference between the internment of people of Japanese descent and Italian citizens being detained or people of German descent who held citizenship other than American is so vast it is unbelievable. All of the internments were problematic at the best but to say that there wasn't a huge racial disparity when it came to interning Japanese-Americans and others of Japanese descent is absolutely absurd.

                        If you can't see the racism there then I really don't know what to tell you.

                        No War but Class War

                        by AoT on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:08:01 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I know the history (0+ / 0-)

                          I find your attempts to argue 'it wasn't as much' thin and tedious.

                          Really? So you're just going to keep moving the goal posts till you 'win'? Because that's what it sounds like.

                          There have been countless rebuttals made to your interesting points in this diary and many of them have come from those that normally would disagree on most things.  I am not going to argue who had it worst with you. That's a subjective game that means nothing.  The internment of the Japanese was largely not about racism. I'm not going to argue that some individuals might have been motivated by racism but that's a fair cry from your accusation that it's racism plain and simple.

                          Der Weg ist das Ziel

                          by duhban on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:24:23 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  What moving the goal posts? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            poco

                            A hundred times more Japanese-amaericans were put in internment camps as there were Germans or Italians and you can't see the racism.

                            Of our wars and interventions in the last 50 years I can think of one off the top of my head that was in a white country.

                            You haven't presented an argument other than we've also attacked white people. That's not an argument. Our history shows a clear bias toward targeting people and countries who are not white. You have given no explanation for that other than racism.

                            The internment of the Japanese was largely not about racism.
                            Then why were 100 times as many Japanese-Americans interned? You might as well claim that high rates of poverty in the black community aren't the result of racism because there are also poor white people.

                            No War but Class War

                            by AoT on Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:06:56 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Serbia (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            duhban
                            Of our wars and interventions in the last 50 years I can think of one off the top of my head that was in a white country.
                            Is this really that hard to think of?
                          •  As I said, one war (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            poco

                            Although I suppose that you could split Serbia and Yugoslavia into two wars.

                            And I'd add that the United States government disagrees with you and Duban about the internment of more than a hundred thousand Japanese-Americans being racist.

                            No War but Class War

                            by AoT on Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:55:47 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  sorry (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT, duhban

                            Misread read that. I had misread it as "can't think of one." That said,  there are reasons why other than racism.
                            One is simply that most of the word is not white. Another is that since the end of WWII to the early 90's. , most of the white majority countries  were split into two camps, East v. West and the doctrine of MAD pretty much ensured that no one was going to go to war there.  Most of the white coutnries were either allies, with whom it made so sense to go to war with, or foes who we coudn't, for fear of starting WWIII. Some of the wars are a bit more complex, too. In both Korea and Vietnam, with fought both with and against non-white asians.

                          •  There are obviously a lot of different things (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            poco

                            that play into our foreign policy, but when you bomb as many places as we do and only one is white then it stops being coincidence and starts being something else. I'm certainly not claiming that it is solely racism in every instance, or that it is a majority racism every time. But when the numbers look like that then there's a pretty strong case that racism is involved.

                            The problem of course is that racism takes a more veiled form in most of these instances.

                            And lets not talk around the fact that a bunch of dead white kids killed at a wedding on a regular basis would be far less acceptable to the American public. Not all of the 66% of people that approve of drone strikes do so because of explicit racism, but I'd bet the one's that do put it over the halfway point.

                            No War but Class War

                            by AoT on Thu May 08, 2014 at 12:40:50 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  yes it is moving the goal posts (0+ / 0-)

                            you are reduced to arguing scale and not whether it happened. As I told you I'm not playing who had it worst.  Everyone but the Japanese never got an apology and in most cases never got their property back or reparations for what happened.

                            Further the internment of the Japanese was never nation wide and in fact concentrated to the west coast (since you like history so much only about 2,000 Japanese were interned in Hawaii despite Japanese descent accounting for about a third of the population there). But you ignore all of these and instead concentrate on a tenuous accusation of racism.

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Thu May 08, 2014 at 01:22:34 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Even the US government says it was racism (2+ / 0-)

                            http://www.internmentarchives.com/...

                            You can pretend that the fact that people of Japanese descent getting interned at 100 times the rate of people of German or Italian descent is just a matter of scale, but that's bullshit. Just sad that you're so desperate to defend the US against charges of racism that you'd deny that the mass internment of Japanese-Americans wasn't racist. Just pathetic.

                            Black people are arrested and imprisoned at a much higher rate because of racism. Japanese-Americans were interned at a much higher rate than people of German or Italian descent because of racism. Pretending like it's not racism is just sad.

                            Do you care about racism except as a way to win political arguments?

                            No War but Class War

                            by AoT on Thu May 08, 2014 at 01:33:29 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  actually your link says (0+ / 0-)
                            the  internment of the individuals of  Japanese was caused by racism, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership
                            So even your own sources are admitting that there is more than just racism going on. That said given it's a .png I can't really examine where you are getting this from and as such I find it a little suspect. When did this report get released? By whom? And that's just the start.

                            The only thing I am 'desperate to defend' is you from making sweeping generalizations that are unsupportable and tenuous at best.

                            I mean can't you even see what you're writing? You've gone from arguing it's about foreign policy to general arrests against black people.

                            You're the one that made a sweeping claim about American Foreign policy so it's strange that you now ask me about racism as a way to win political arguments.

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Thu May 08, 2014 at 02:10:00 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  So it isn't racism because it's more than (2+ / 0-)

                            just racism?

                            Where did I say it was only racism?

                            Talk about moving the goal posts.

                            The point here is that our foreign policy is driven in large part by racism.

                            It's good to know that you want to gloss over American racism as if it's no big thing. You're only point is that it isn't solely racism, which has nothing to do with what I said. With one exception that I know of since WWII we've only bombed and attacked countries that weren't white. You can pretend racism doesn't play a major role in that, but sweeping the racism of Americans under the table isn't something I'm going to do.

                            No War but Class War

                            by AoT on Thu May 08, 2014 at 02:20:16 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  here's the thing (0+ / 0-)

                            the only thing you've been mentioning this entire time is racism. Your message is all or nothing and because I've shown that that isn't the case.

                            You are the one that is okay with claiming the majority of America is racist and likes to bomb brown people because of racism.

                            You can not argue this both ways. You can not argue for an absolutist view and then turn around and be like 'well it's not just racism'. Please pick your argument and let's go from there.

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Thu May 08, 2014 at 02:31:32 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I never said it was only racism (2+ / 0-)

                            You've set up a straw man to knock down. You put words in my mouth.

                            If your only point was that racism wasn't the sole reason that the US does various things in terms of foreign policy then I don't disagree. If I may suggest that next time you say that instead of responding that it isn't racism. Because saying it isn't racism is entirely different than saying it isn't just racism. And in fact you ignored the fact that I explicitly said that.

                            Whereas you said that the interment of the Japanese was largely not about racism even though it's the first thing listed in the government document as a reason, and a hundred times as many people of Japanese descent as those in other groups were interned. The internment of a huge mass of people of Japanese descent was clearly motivated by racism. It wasn't the sole motivation, but it was the reason there were a hundred thousand people interned instead of a thousand or two as with Germans and Italians. The racism is so blatant as to be obvious.

                            My original comment on the topic of racism was that a majority of Americans approve of the drone attacks because of racism. Not that every person who approves of them does so for racist reasons.

                            No War but Class War

                            by AoT on Thu May 08, 2014 at 02:54:45 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  let's put all the games aside (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AoT

                            some 65% of Americans support the use drones what is your response to that?

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:10:20 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That the reason it's a 65% is because (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            duhban

                            Americans are deeply racist, especially when it comes to "terrorists" like Arabs and Afghanis. Not everyone who supports it does so because they're racist, or only because of racism, but racism is the reason it is has majority support. This is why it has far, far greater support among Republicans as opposed to Democrats.

                            If it were white people getting killed, and even more so Christians, then support would drop drastically. You can see that because support for drone strikes against Americans(i.e. more likely to be white) suspected of terrorism overseas drops drastically. Although I would guess that republican support for that drops more because of the fact that Obama is president and their racism in that respect. I'd bet those numbers would shoot up if Bush were president.

                            I would very much expect the number of Democrats who support the use of drones to drop drastically if Bush were still in office.

                            At the same time, I really can't stand when a poll is used to say who "supports" something or other. If you're actively campaigning for a politician who will use drone strikes then you're supporting drone strikes. Although from our previous conversations I'd expect you would disagree with that to some extent. Which I can respect.

                            No War but Class War

                            by AoT on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:23:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  okay (0+ / 0-)

                            I completely disagree agree with you but have no wish to rehash that. I would point out that there have been white terrorists killed by drones too and the public generally has given a collective shoulder shrug.

                            You take care, I leave you last word

                            cheers

                            Der Weg ist das Ziel

                            by duhban on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:31:09 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

    •  Don't underestimate (26+ / 0-)

      the size-of-government issue. That one really hurts us, and has for years.

      It's also worth noting that just because the public expresses sympathy for the progressive position doesn't mean they'll support a specific progressive solution. They agree that inequality is a problem, but might not want to pay higher taxes to fix it - and are even less likely to want to support a more radical solution.

      I just don't see the American electorate as "a bunch of leftists who think the Dems are weak on everything." I think that's the echo chamber talking. Frankly, I've seen more of a libertarian surge in the past few years than anything else.

      •  As have I: (16+ / 0-)
        Frankly, I've seen more of a libertarian surge in the past few years than anything else.
        I study martial arts with a surprisingly diverse group of people (a horror-movie writer/producer and professional tattoo artist; a professional investment-banker who owns his own company; and a low-wage fry cook, to give a sampling of the spectrum).  Wonderful to hear such diverse people speak as equals sharing a common goal and pursuit.

        There are also several younger (relativizing statement:  I'm 44 this year) people in the class.  Ranging from 20 to 35, almost every political word I hear from them is directly in support of Libertarianism.  It's definitely surging.

        I'm not scared of it, but do hope we Democrats can channel some of that enthusiasm to more truly progressive causes.

        Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

        by Jon Sitzman on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:27:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If it's mostly white people (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kharma, TheLizardKing, Jon Sitzman

          then I'm not surprised. White libertarians gravitate toward martial arts like they gravitate toward guns.

          No War but Class War

          by AoT on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:45:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Jon Sitzman (0+ / 0-)
          As have I: (13+ / 0-)

              Frankly, I've seen more of a libertarian surge in the past few years than anything else.

          National popular vote 2012 , Libertarian Johnson     0.99%

          Maybe you guys should start with a coherent platform ?

          Ron Paul was real popular here in Iowa in 2012 , it must have been a bit serial for all those folks when they watched him get behind Romney , you people constantly "GOP " implode on yourselves  

          Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers

          by Patango on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:45:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Whoa, whoa whoa whoa (7+ / 0-)

            Don't think for a second I support the Libertarian platform over the Democratic one.  I was sharing an anecdote in response to DiesIrae's note about Libertarian popularity in the twentysomething to thirtysomething set.  Not declaring my own ideology.

            The loudest talker on such subjects in the class actually rents a home from me (don't ask), and we sometimes - in friendly terms - disagree on issues.  AFE, he stated he was adamantly against contributing to the ACA (i.e. he'd rather pay the penalty than take a policy) because, quote, "The third biggest killer of Americans IS the healthcare system."  Without going into heavy detail, I politely called him on it, pointed out the benefits of healthcare and stated the stat he was quoting might not be reliable.  I made specific emphasis on line infections and how there's great work going on to curtail them.

            I'll admit and own that I have voted Libertarian in the past - a fair bit of time ago now.  I don't any more.  I never bought into the callous, selfish ideology that seems to pervade the modern-day Libertarian party (at least its vocal, Republican-leaning element).

            Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

            by Jon Sitzman on Wed May 07, 2014 at 06:38:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I wasn't talking about "the electorate" (8+ / 0-)

        to be clear. I was talking about a specific group that could be mobilized by pushing issues that are meat for the left. Taxing the rich being one example.

        People aren't going to vote for the racist ass crazy GOP because someone doesn't agree on KXL.

        If the Dems don't run a populist campaign then I can guarantee someone on the right will.

        Currently we've got a party that refuses to prosecute for the crimes committed during the crash. When that get's brought up Dems circle the wagons and accuse people of being leftists. These sort of attacks from the right don't help.  Sure, no one can win if they run on freeing Peltier, even if they really believe that he deserves to be freed, but on some really important really basic economic issues the public almost entirely agrees with the progressive platform and no one is even remotely serious about running on those.

        That's the problem, not that we've got to many on the left chastising the party for not being left enough.

        No War but Class War

        by AoT on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:35:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe on that Libertarian 'surge' (17+ / 0-)

        but I do feel some of that, in the young in particular, is naivete - the naivete that voted for Ron Paul 'pulling us out of foreign wars' garbage.  My nephew, in his 20's, was going Ron Paul for a while, but when I pointed out some of the really fallacious and downright dumb positions Paul espoused, even that 20 year old 'got it'.

        For all those who 'say' the want 'small government' does that mean they're willing to forego their SS checks?  Forego their Medicare?  Hardly.  Maybe THAT should be a bigger part of the progressive message - you hate government so much, why do you live off of it?

        •  I am not sure of that Libertarian Surge (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT, Onomastic, tardis10

          I think if you look at Seattle and the fast food strikes, you see the beginnings of a progressive labor movement that is being fed by young people (racially mixed and highly motivated) This City Council Member from Seattle;
          Kshama Sawant a software engineer, MBA and a Socialist. God, i wish we had a few hundred like her.
          The prayer issues will eventually go the way of the Gay Marriage Issue as the percent of "no religion" people continues to climb.
          I don't know about 20-14 but 2016 looks good and 2018 even better Courage, discipline and the determination to fight

          a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.

          by Jamesleo on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:01:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, I've noticed the same thing (0+ / 0-)

          The barrage from the right for many years has hammered the "smaller government" theme.  And no one has done a good job of explaining what that really means (e.g., more people die because Medicaid thresholds are so low...).

          I think this trend among the youngest voters of trumpeting smaller government is dangerous.

          Could it be we need a strong young progressive spokesperson who can help reach them?

          Understanding is limited by perspective. Perspective is limited by experience. America is a great place to live but it limits our ability to understand.

          by CindyV on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:12:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Americans are not really against more (18+ / 0-)

        government; they are against inefficient government and all we are shown nationally is a government that's dysfunctional.

        If people thought they were getting value from their tax money, you'd not hear a peep. That's one of the beauties of single payer, as it provides a very tangible, up close and personal benefit. Same with Medicare and SS for those who are seniors.

        I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

        by pajoly on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:05:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  People want a smaller government as a slogan, not (13+ / 0-)

        as a reality. If you ask them if we should get rid of any of the individual services that the government provides they will say no, not realizing that in order to provide all of the functions they want the government to provide, we need a large government.

        OTOH, overreach by agencies like the NSA has led to an upswing in libertarian sentiment. And I am not sure that is a bad thing since the Democrats do not seem to be in any rush to rein it in.

      •  DiesIrae (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chi
        Don't underestimate (14+ / 0-)

        the size-of-government issue. That one really hurts us, and has for years.

        But then again it depends on many variables , 37% of Americans think we spend too much on defense , and defense is more than 67% of discretionary spending , the other numbers

        28% too little ,  32%  just right (on defense spending )

         , but then they are for small government ?

        gallup

        And then you have the popularity of social security and medicare

        Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers

        by Patango on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:31:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  the 'silent progressive majority' makes (11+ / 0-)

    as little sense as Reagan's silent majority.  As you show Americans simply have some very discordant views.

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:14:09 PM PDT

  •  Your first sentence is flawed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    …and renders the rest nonsensical:

    There is a narrative here that the U.S. electorate contains a silent progressive majority which is disappointed with President Obama.
    Half the voters in the US hate President Obama and all things Democratic. Among all voters, there is NO progressive majority.

    And, nobody thinks there is.

    If you are just talking about the Democratic party, say so.

  •  Well the People Have Hardly Been Left Alone to (12+ / 0-)

    draw large overarching policy conclusions.

    It'd be stunning if a question that's so broad and ultimate a conclusion as wanting government to be large or small would bring the people down on the side of large many-services government after half a century of small-government propaganda by religious authorities representing over half the population, almost all the ownership of the economy and the ownership and sponsorship of our for-profit mainstream public square.

    Especially in the absence of a self proclaimed liberal party or any significant voice promoting large government as a concept, in at least 45 years.

    I don't know many progressives who say there's a majority support for the overarching concept that we need large and possibly larger government, when it's put so barely and directly.

    But the proposition that government should do more to reduce income or wealth inequality is as fundamentally liberal a principle as there is, and it's an economic principle which is at the core of what global ownership has been attacking here as far back as 1933.

    Because of that alignment on principle, a principle at the core of what conservatism has been attacking, and one I didn't know before opening this diary, I'm happy to sign onto the concept of a silent progressive majority. To be sure I'm willing to concede that the people likely oppose most policies that might accomplish the goal they want, given the vast and long conservative propaganda environment.

    Your tactical suggestions are spot on; I'd nuance them though with the knowledge that we don't always have to change peoples' hearts and principles along with their policy minds. For example there's some education required to explain the value of progressive individual taxation, but as you say they're already in agreement with us about the core purpose: reduction in economic inequality. We just have to deal with generations of trash talk about particular policies that have been mainstreamed by those who have intended and accomplished the increase in inequality.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:20:25 PM PDT

  •  DAMN, DiesIrae. You don't write many diaries... (13+ / 0-)

    ...but when you do, you hit it out of the park.

    Skål, sir or ma'am.  Skål.  Kull wahad.

    Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

    by Jon Sitzman on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:22:22 PM PDT

  •  leadership via polls is not leadership (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, mrkvica

    it's least common denominator appeasement, and wins the people, what they've won over the last 40 years.

    A govt where money rules.

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:25:39 PM PDT

  •  good diary (12+ / 0-)

    The one thing that must always be added to this sort of discussion, though, is intensity of support.

    For example, many folks may support a higher minimum wage, but not really have that as a decisive issue in their actual voting.  I wish they would, but they after don't since most people earn more than the minimum wage, they don't see how it directly effects them.

    Part of the secret sauce of politics is hitting not only the issues that the majority support, but issues that are determinative for actual voting.  Sadly, the republicans have been better at identifying and exploiting those than democrats.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:39:28 PM PDT

  •  I think there is a great deal of wisdom in the (13+ / 0-)

    idea of pushing those progressive ideas which are universally popular (which includes the ACA IF you break down the benefits and don't call it "Obamacare").

    What Americans really want, it would seem, is a fairly comfortable life where the struggle to survive does not overwhelm their ability to drop out, tune in (to their enormous flat-screen HDTV) and turn on (pro sports).

    Essentially, bread and circus. It's a cultural shame, but it seems to me what dominates day-to-day culture.

    The "echo chamber" here is not so much about progressive politics (there are plenty of "New Dems" here) but about the fact that we tend to be highly informed, high-volume consumers of news, analysis and opinion, and give a shit about issues.

    My experience "out in the world" has been the majority of people I meet could not care less about anything beyond their own needs. That, I think, is why the GOP has been so successful in framing the narrative. It's easy to get people to repeat your talking points and vote for you when you tell them that "the enemy" is trying to make your life difficult, and difficult to bring people around to your side when you tell them that things are nuanced and it requires effort.

    SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

    by commonmass on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:46:16 PM PDT

    •  There is also the sad fact (8+ / 0-)

      That almost everyone votes based on short term economic stuff, whether things are better or worse than last year.

      Sadly, no politician really has that much control over that.  There are policies that can improve or screw the economy over longer decade-long cycles (for example reigning in too much Wall Street speculation). But that does not really effect year-to-year changes that people vote for.

      Let me put it another way.  Voters based their 2008 vote mostly on the "Bush" financial collapse.  But really, it was a "30 years of lax regulation starting with Reagan with the help of all subsequent presidents including Bush junior" financial collapse.  If it had happened 6 months later, it woulda been the Obama collapse.

      "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

      by Empty Vessel on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:55:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm a little more optimistic (6+ / 0-)

      than this:

      My experience "out in the world" has been the majority of people I meet could not care less about anything beyond their own needs.
      We're a tribal animal by nature. So yes, it's hard to convince people to think about the interests of people they don't know. But we do care about people that we know - we have an extraordinary capacity for sympathy and for empathy within our "tribe." And perhaps the best way to promote progressive issues is to appeal to that capacity. Show people how our policies will improve the lives of people they know. It's working beautifully with marriage equality; once a critical mass of people realized that their family, friends, or neighbors had something at stake, they started supporting it. We can harness this on other issues too. And if we can get people to expand their "tribe" - even better.
      •  That's exactly right, and I have told many (8+ / 0-)

        activists for many different issues "If you want to be successful, look at the LGBT rights and marriage equality movement. It's all about connecting and telling our stories to one another, and it's all about starting in your OWN neighborhood."

        SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

        by commonmass on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:05:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's Also About an Issue the Entire Global Economy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass

          doesnt' give a rat's ass about fighting, aside from authoritarian religion.

          To see how fast people can shift from a reactionary preference to a progressive one, casts a stark light on the many issues where they're not budging or moving backward, even in spite of their own interests.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:13:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Doesn't everyone want that? I mean the majority (0+ / 0-)

      of people in every country.

    •  Pretentious bullshit (0+ / 0-)

      What we all want "is a fairly comfortable life where the struggle to survive does not overwhelm" the ability to enjoy it. Unfortunately, for the majority of everyone everywhere, life to does not always oblige. That most people are preoccupied with their own lives is entirely understandable and appropriate.  That we as liberals acknowledge problems that require communal action and sacrifice does not mean we get to dismiss the very real concerns of those who don't share our priorities.

  •  My take is quite different (10+ / 0-)

    There are NO votes for Democrats to gain by tracking right. No one to the right of established D policy would ever switch from R based on a Democratic move to the right.

    However, there ARE votes to be gained by moving populist, which I'd argue is NOT a move to the left and populist issues enjoy wide support across political labels, especially as it relates to war, NSA, banker accountability, infrastructure improvements, drug law reform, and even living wage issues (when properly framed).

    So there are only 3 choices for the Party:
    1. Stay corporatist with some civil rights bones and maintain voter staus quo, and risk keeping some home.
    2. Move further right, and not gain ANY votes and likely lose many.
    3. Go populist and gain votes from the left, potentially from more independents and even some libertarians. Those who already vote D will not move away from a Dem vote if this track is adotped either, so there's no risk of LOSING votes.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:02:07 PM PDT

    •  Exactly. (7+ / 0-)

      POPULISM WINS.

      D's are always most successful when they go with populist messages.

      Imagine what it would be like if they consistently embraced populist policies.

      The fact that they don't is ENTIRELY why they haven't crushed the other party which has been imploding for years and years...

      I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

      Trust, but verify. - Reagan
      Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

      by Words In Action on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:09:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This assumes (11+ / 0-)

      that tacking left costs you nothing. I don't agree.

      For example: Elizabeth Warren ran on an excellent progressive message in the bluest state in the country in a presidential year. She won by 7, far less than Obama's margin (admittedly some of this could have been due to Brown's popularity).

      Al Franken ran on a strong progressive message in 2008, in a blue state, in a presidential year. As we all know, he won by a whisker - again, far less than Obama's margin. And no one really liked Norm Coleman.

      The first vote I ever cast was for a progressive in a lieutenant governor primary in a swing state. Even though the other Democratic candidates (governor, AG) won, and her opponent was not much to write home about, she lost.

      •  Let's be clear, I said populist, not progressive (7+ / 0-)

        Progressive issues in some areas completely align with populist issues in the current scheme of these. It is where that intersection occurs where Dems should pounce as that's where the maximum returns can be found.

        In other words, I agree re your point that the most votes to be gained are non-ideological, but where issues intersect, you can win some progressively and many non-ideological independents.

        I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

        by pajoly on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:19:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Massachusetts only LOOKS like the "bluest (8+ / 0-)

        [state] Comonwealth in the country", but that's because it's a one-party Commonwealth. Yes, there is a long history of Republican governors--mostly liberal or moderate-- and have elected GOP Senators from Henry Cabot Lodge Jr to Scott Brown--but its legislature is so dominated by the Democratic Party that Republican legislators are nearly irrelevant. In the Massachusetts House of Representatives, there are currently 131 Democrats and 29 Republicans. In the Mass Senate, 36 Democrats and 4 Republicans. (By the way, prior to about 1940, Massachusetts politics on the Commonwealth level was dominated by Republicans, though of a very different stripe.)

        The trouble is, that the "big tent" of Democratic Party polity is highly exaggerated in Massachusetts. While there are plenty of liberals like Sen. Warren, or Barney Frank, or Gov. Deval Patrick, there are also many moderates, like former Mayor Menino, and many many conservative Democrats.

        So in short, within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is more of a balance between conservatives and liberals than one might think: it just is, that they are all Democrats.

        So, calling Massachusetts universally blue might be accurate if you're only talking about party affiliation and nothing else, but when you're talking about politics, it looks more like New Hampshire.

        SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

        by commonmass on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:29:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This reminds me of the stark contrast (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DiesIrae, commonmass, etherealfire, duhban

          With a solidly red state like Arizona.  You could almost turn each of your points around, replacing D with R and vice versa and you'd be talking about Arizona.  And there are certainly plenty of Rs here that would bemoan in the same way that our strongly R tent is not really fully R - too many moderate Rs getting in the way of the conservative agenda.

          Be happy - you're about as blue as it gets.

          Understanding is limited by perspective. Perspective is limited by experience. America is a great place to live but it limits our ability to understand.

          by CindyV on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:27:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I live in Maine now, where we have Dems (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            etherealfire

            dominating the lege and recently overrode several of our Tea Party Governor's vetoes.

            SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

            by commonmass on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:07:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  However, it is important to remember that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            etherealfire

            there are LOTS of conservative Democrats in New England legislatures, especially in Massachusetts, and it's one of the reasons Scott Brown was so popular for a time.

            There were not enough Republicans in Massachusetts to elect Scott Brown but there were enough unenrolled (independent) voters and conservative Democrats.

            Which is why I say it's really more like New Hampshire than one might think.

            Of course, Scott Brown is twice a carpetbagger: he was born in Kittery, Maine, just over the Piscataqua River Bridge from New Hampshire, served as a Senator from Massachusetts, and now is running in NH.

            New England politics is complicated, and it's not all sweetness and Kennedy light.

            SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

            by commonmass on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:10:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Nominate for Comment of the day. (0+ / 0-)

      • "But such is the irresistable nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing." -Thomas Paine
      • "The trust of the innocent is the liar's most useful tool." Stephen King
      • I am the 99%

      by Tommymac on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:32:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  An example of what I was saying upthread is the (5+ / 0-)

    XL Pipeline. People need gasoline and heating oil and natural gas. People notice it's expensive. To many people, alternative energy sources represent emerging technology they don't (and don't care to) understand and see increased crude and gas production as making their lives easier (unless they live next to a a fracking sinkhole or the pipeline is going to transverse their ranch). If it doesn't directly effect THEM, and it could make their life easier, why not?

    Then, as a casual consumer of information, you hear lots of voices saying "climate change is just an unproven theory" and "our country is at risk in terms of energy production", it's easy to imagine that that voter supports the pipeline and/or fracking.

    It's not just about the middle and upper-middle class lifestyle either: my parents managed to get their kids to music lessons, karate, Little League, in my brother's case in Jr. High, football, get the family to church on Sunday,  hold down a job a piece and STILL be informed about the issues in a fact-based way, consider them critically, and vote Democratic as informed voters. You can't blame how "busy" people are: it's about what people do with their free time and about their interests are.

    Many people like my parents are only interested in politics only so far as it directly effects their wallets. Thankfully, my parents were more responsible in their citizenship and imparted that to us kids from a VERY early age.

    SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

    by commonmass on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:02:33 PM PDT

  •  I've disagreed with you in many diaries (7+ / 0-)

    as I recall, but I support most every point in the diary, especially the concept of the silent majority being non-ideological. It is why I think those voters are up for grabs and tip any election where they are motivated to cast their ballots. For them (and frankly I'm largely in their camp at this point), populist issues carry real resonance.

    What's so frustrating about the Dem party, and especially Obama is that he had these voters in 2008, but through his own inaction he lost them in 2010 and may well lose the in 2014. Despite historic obstruction, there were things he could have done that would have brought out voters. Number one I think would have been perp walks of high profile bankers, versus token fines on their companies. I sincerely believe just that action alone would have made 2010 have a much different reality.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:15:06 PM PDT

  •  Given that the first oil source to go obsolete (5+ / 0-)

    thanks to the fast rollout of solar is tar sands, I can't quite figure out why we need KXL at all.

    Oh, unless someone's aware that if that nice tasty carbon isn't gotten, stat, it will never be taken out of the ground.

    As if that was a bad thing...

  •  Majority wrongly believes KXL will lower gas price (8+ / 0-)

    The price of gas is a major concern for a majority of Americans. Most Americans don't get that KXL will expedite export of refined fuels overseas and will raise gas prices in the U.S.

    “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

    by FishOutofWater on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:40:07 PM PDT

    •  Not sure how it would raise gas prices here? (2+ / 0-)

      I get that it's a drop in the worldwide petrol bucket, and so it certainly won't lower prices.  But how's it gonna raise them?

      Honest question, not intended to be hostile if it reads as such.

      "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

      by Empty Vessel on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:50:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Majority are idiots (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueyedace2, Dartagnan

      It's simply a fact. I heard about a recent poll in which a majority of those polled were supportive of the specific provisions in the ACA like no denial of people with preexisting conditions and subsidies for the less well-off, but were also opposed to Obama's positions on health insurance reform. One has to be a literal moron to hold such positions. I am for the death penalty but I think it's wrong for the state to kill people!

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:29:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What intrigues me is that the people who are (8+ / 0-)

    pushing the SPMT tend to be highly vocal rather than silent, and much of their commentary seems devoted to griping about the present rather than finding ways into a different future, yet they claim to be describing themselves when they make the case.

    I've always thought of progress as being toward something specific, which means that rather than griping about the obstacles to a direct and simple path, you accept that the path will be whatever route works to get you to your destination.

    A note on the thesis of big/small government: If there is a majority position, I think it may have more to do with the perception of how much time needs to be spent dealing with government rather than how large it is. In other words, we want government that will simplify our lives, rather than complicate them, and we perceive the size of government in terms of how much we have to think about it from day to day, rather than in terms of actual size.

    In all, a well written provocative diary. Thanks.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:52:43 PM PDT

    •  I would add (5+ / 0-)

      That there has been a strong message that big government gets in the way of the economic engine - impedes economic growth.

      That message came from economists who have the stature of experts in capitalism.  Psychologists have proven that a message with the weight of experts behind it is embraced much more quickly and strongly.

      When people are concerned about the economy and jobs, their fallback position is to trust what the experts have been saying - that big government is bad.

      Understanding is limited by perspective. Perspective is limited by experience. America is a great place to live but it limits our ability to understand.

      by CindyV on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:39:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It strikes me that the case was made by (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poco, etherealfire

        cherrypicking the experts and repeating the message whether it conformed to the facts or not. Like a lot of what Fox does. I wonder how the weight of the repetition stacks up when there are "experts" with widely divergent opinions?

        You're right about the strength of the message, though, whatever the impetus.

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:08:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think elections are cyclical (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DiesIrae, blueyedace2, etherealfire

    The electorate by and large gets sick of whomever they've just voted in, often in record time.  Dems probably won't do great in 2014 but will bounce back in 2016.  

    the woman who is easily irritated

    by chicago minx on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:59:13 PM PDT

  •  Great diary! (8+ / 0-)

    I love that you actually have detailed, achievable goals.  Lot of good stuff here.

    Clearly, what has happened is that the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message.
    - Maine Gov. Paul LePage

    by clinging to hope on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:08:43 PM PDT

  •  Kind of an unfair comparison, no? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Patango

    Saying that while a majority of Americans want to (actually) strengthen Social Security and raise corporate taxes, a majority also support KSXL and school prayer, therefore it's a wash, is, well, silly. The former are issues that decide national elections across the country. The latter are issues that decide local and national elections in some states (that are mostly low population). The political and electoral impact of the former vs. the latter kinds of issues is simply not comparable and it's unfair to pretend otherwise.

    A majority of Americans elected and reelected Obama by pretty large margins (as presidential elections go) even though he supports abortion rights and gun control, is opposed to school prayer, and believes in climate change and evolution, even though majority of Americans hold opposite opinions on such issues. According to your logic, he'd have lost both elections big time.

    We can't and should worry about every issue that Americans care about, only the ones that either determine elections or that matter to us. No Democrat is going to lose a major state election that they otherwise had a decent chance of winning because they oppose KSXL and school prayer, or are for gun control and doing something about climate change. If I'm wrong, show me numbers.

    Let's put all those bullshit "values voter" issues behind us because we're never going to win over voters who care about such issues on THOSE issues, but rather our our issues--the ones that matter to US.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:23:19 PM PDT

    •  A lot of the issues (7+ / 0-)

      you dismiss as "bullshit 'values voter' issues" do matter to me - and to a lot of other people.

      First of all: majorities of Americans favor at least some nontrivial level of abortion rights and of gun control. And majorities also believe in climate change and evolution (sadly, they're small majorities). So I don't think those are examples that show what I'm saying is wrong.

      Second of all, KSXL absolutely could determine statewide elections. In fact, I'd argue that it already has. No way in hell Heidi Heitkamp would have gotten elected last year in North Dakota if she was against Keystone. Not in a conservative state with a major oil boom.

      And if you're looking for a big national issue where we don't have the favorable ground: size of government.

      •  Most of those aren't anything that the elected (0+ / 0-)

        officials can do anything about though.

        The other side of this is that you've now switched to specific states and specific issues. If your argument is that not every democrat everywhere can win if they run as a progressive on every issue then I'm not sure that needed to be said.

        No War but Class War

        by AoT on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:43:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  By bullshit I meant that the positions (0+ / 0-)

        that the people who hold opposite views from us are bullshit. The issues themselves are generally legitimate ones (except school prayer--how insecure do you have to be to need a law telling you that you can pray in a public building?) But damn, being against any abortion or gun rights? That's bullshit, and we're never going to get those people anyway.

        As for KSXL, again, this is a state and local, not national issue that won't determine the presidency or control of the senate. I don't mind a handful of Dems from red states supporting it to get elected, so long as KSXL doesn't get approved. I also don't mind if those Dems take positions to the right of what we'd like on some other issues so long as the issues themselves don't go right in terms of policy and laws. Hell, they can support creationism to get elected so long as it stays the hell out of our schools (I'm mostly kidding about that last one, but you know what I mean).

        But on what I view as the big political issues of today (which were not the same ones 10 years ago, e.g. terrorism, "values", gay marriage), like taxes on the rich and big corporations, entitlements, infrastructure, education, green energy, etc., I think a majority of Americans are with us.

        Yeah, on "big guvmint" and the debt, we don't have them. But these are issues that can be spun and pivoted on favorably, by saying that we're against both, while quietly not doing anything about it. It's easy to pander on such issues, and I'm ok with pandering to fools when the stakes are this high.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:43:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think we may be talking past one another. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco, etherealfire, duhban

          I don't agree with the KSXL comment - Senate races have national implications, whether they're decided on local issues or not. But I do agree with your last two paragraphs (though the issues you consider 'big' might not be the issues other people consider 'big' - I think "big guvmint" is an important factor for a lot of people right now, and I don't see health care anywhere). And your last paragraph is exactly how I'd suggest candidates handle those issues.

          •  What I'm trying to say (0+ / 0-)

            is that I don't believe that the party at the national level needs to or should take positions contrary to what most liberals support on the big issues of the day, but that it's ok, of unfortunate, if a few Dems in some red states are believe that they need to take those contrary positions.

            I.e. I don't think that the Democratic party runs a big risk of losing the senate or white house by holding progressive stances on these issue at the national party level, especially if it releases red state Dems to take opposite positions on some of them in ways that might win them their elections but doesn't affect actual policy at the national level.

            So the national party can continue to push for more infrastructure spending, raising taxes on the rich, green energy, gay, minority and women's rights, raising the minimum wage, opposing XL, supporting gun control, etc., and I don't believe it'll cost us anything we already have. It's not going to help us take back the house, but that's going to be tough for other reasons mainly.

            As for the debt, deficit, and "big guvmint", people make a lot of noise about these issues but no one votes on them, at least in ways that have anything to do with reality, or they'd have stopped voting for Repubs, who've done vastly more to increase the debt and deficit and size of government than Dems have since the 70's. These are not issues on which we're going to win over many votes by sounding more conservative. So yeah, make nice noises about reducing all of these to placate stupid centrists (and yeah, they are stupid), while then proceeding to do what you think is actually best for the country.

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:26:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Heh. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              poco, etherealfire, duhban

              The caveat "at least in ways that have anything to do with reality" is the key... and the problem.

              •  So what's the solution? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DiesIrae

                Not only saying all the "right" things about the debt and deficit to sooth these clueless voters who don't understand the need and/or inevitability of both during certain times--and likely won't vote Dem anyway--but actually cutting spending in harmful and unnecessary ways?

                I agree that there are issues that Dems need to dance carefully around--while not substantially changing their stance on them. Plus, we're mainly talking about winning over centrist, moderate Repub and occasional voters, not hard right Repub voters who aren't gettable no matter how much Dems pander to them. And I think that enough of them are sufficiently within the Dem policy platform penumbra to be gettable. It's a matter of policy and language tweaking, not substantial policy change.

                "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                by kovie on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:39:59 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think I actually completely agree (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kovie, poco, etherealfire

                  with your solution. I don't want to see us cut spending in dumb ways (though I would accept certain compromises if we got other policy priorities that would more-than-offset them). But we need to at least be able to play defense by paying lip service to certain ideas. Neutralize the problematic issues by taking a defensive posture, and play offense on the ones which are both popular and liberal/progressive.

                  •  Fake right, run left (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    poco

                    I hate doing that, and I'd like that to happen less and less often. But, sadly, we still have to do it on some issues, seeing as how unprogressive many voters are on some issues. And I'm being kind when I call them unprogressive.

                    More like neanderthal.

                    But hey, it's the country we have, not the country we wish we had.

                    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                    by kovie on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:48:28 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  Do you have any polling to back up your (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      etherealfire

      assertions on American's voting priorities, or are you just going by feel here?

      While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

      by GoGoGoEverton on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:21:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You of all people should have the answers to that (0+ / 0-)

        As I stated above, Obama won big twice by running against the stances that a majority of Americans allegedly hold on some of these issues, and Dems kept the senate, which tells me everything that I need to know about what voters actually vote on, as opposed to what they claim to vote on.

        According to this diary, McCain and Romney should have won and Repubs would have retaken the senate long ago.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:28:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, the diary implied a balance (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          etherealfire, duhban

          which you are saying isn't a fair comparison. However, KXL for instance is an economic issue to many people, and the Economy is ALWAYS at the top of the polling as important issues...would you like to see that polling?

          I'm not saying you're wrong and would be hallybtonte you you're right...do you have data to back up your assertions?

          While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

          by GoGoGoEverton on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:37:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't have the data, no (0+ / 0-)

            But I'm pretty good, I think, at internalizing data I come across to get an overall sense of where things are. Not something I'd defend a thesis with, but that's not the situation here. And I simply can't believe that XL is a big enough issue nationally to cost Dems the presidency or senate.

            Let Landrieu et al do their thing pandering to pro-oil voters while the party continues to oppose XL. What matters to me is that Dems keep the senate AND don't let XL happen. I think that both are quite doable. But on the issues that I believe have BROAD national impact, like entitlements and the economy, Dems are on the right side of the issues and Repubs are not.

            Do you believe that there are any issues where Dems, while on the right side of those issues policy-wise (at least to most liberals), are on the losing side politically, in ways that could cost them either the senate or WH? Which ones?

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:45:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, but I wouldn't phrase it 'losing side' (5+ / 0-)

              because while there are single-issue voters on both sides, most voters seem to take an aggregate score or base their vote on something superficial like looks.  I think  a strong way to reach most voters is to talk about why KXL actually won't help the economy long term and why it will hurt their kids long-term, vs just saying KXL BAD! Same thing with marijuana, climate change, etc etc.

              While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

              by GoGoGoEverton on Wed May 07, 2014 at 06:34:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I use blunt shorthand here (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                GoGoGoEverton

                Out in the real world I speak REAL slow with monosyllabic words, and make sure to praise aunt Bessie's apple pie. So to speak. Trust me, I don't insult people even though god help 'em some of them deserve it.

                "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                by kovie on Wed May 07, 2014 at 08:09:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  'Happy to tell you' (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch, AoT

            Not whatever the hell hallybtonte means.

            While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

            by GoGoGoEverton on Wed May 07, 2014 at 06:24:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Most Americans are short sighted and selfish (4+ / 0-)

    Everybody wants a policy as long as it either helps them personally or doesn't affect their current living standards.

    Climate Change/KSXL pipeline-  Try telling people to give up their car or god forbid drive less (even on a blog like Daily Kos)

    Taxes-  It's fine to raise taxes as long as it affect "rich" people who are defined as anyone who makes more money than me.

    Healthcare-  Single payer all the way but it can't be expensive and I need to be able to see MY doctor and not wait in line.

    NSA/Surveillance-  Perfectly fine when I thought it only was for terrorist and brown people.  

    American's talk about progressive ideas but they VOTE yes on centrist ones.

  •  Its not about progressive or whatever and (0+ / 0-)

    thats just a distraction.

    Its about representing the people or not. If the Dems showed more serious intent on being the party of the people they would find more allies. To be the less nasty party of the oligarchy isn't inspiring to most.

    The dems keep wondering why their base is less motivated, thats because they are less rabid by nature and have little reason to be excited. No matter which side is in power we will still spend gobs of money on weapons to fight some imaginary super power that doesn't exist.

    We spend over 700 billion a year on military and cut little social programs by a few million, crippling them so we can get a 30th aircraft carrier.

    I am sorry, but your diary is the typical status quo distraction offering a false choice of left or right when many issues are neither left nor right nor even of interest to either party.

    If the dems came out with a solid platform of a works project, reduced military spending increased taxes on the rich and all the things that anyone with good sense and no horse in the race would want they would get a lot of voters out.

    Of course they would go back on most of it for the 20th time only to wonder why their voters don't turn out in the next midterm

    You can fool most of the people most of the time but you can't fool all the people all the time and if you try to fool everyone all the time eventually people will stop being fooled.

    People would rather just go on with their lives than play the heads they win tails they lose game.

    Its no mystery how to get the base excited, its just not something the Money cares about so its 'off the table'. Any confusion is on par with an abusive partner wondering why their partner doesn't want to see them as much.

    Join the DeRevolution: We are not trying to take the country, we are trying to take the country back. Get the money out of politics with public financed campaigns so 'Of the People, By the People and For the People' rings true again.

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed May 07, 2014 at 06:14:47 PM PDT

  •  Not majority, but significant sector (0+ / 0-)

    Sure, not a silent progressive majority but there is enough sympathy there, that Democrats should appeal more to it and get more votes (and proper action) than they'd turn off. It seems to be working for Liz Warren's popularity.

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