I frequently find myself wondering, lately, how crazy Progressives have to get before we implode completely. How far are we from the Teabaggers, really? There was great rejoicing here just a few months ago, celebrations of the madness of Republican Party pandering to the far right, primarying moderates, establishing purity standards, demonizing RINOs. We were euphoric, seeing a landslide victory in our near future, and perhaps for decades, as the Republican Party tried to bring itself back from the cliff.
Then I started seeing comments suggesting that someone truly Progressive should primary Obama in 2012 and I thought I'd fallen into the Twilight Zone. We think of ourselves, often, as superior to the run of the mill Republican - wiser, better educated, less fear-ridden, more able to tolerate the gray areas of reality, far more tolerant of diverse opinions and different cultures. How is it, then, that so many of us are ready to follow the loser opposition party off the purity cliff?
Mom: "So just because your friends jump off a cliff you think you should too?"
The core problem the Republican Party faces is not split factions, or bad political advice, it's their deep conviction that there's only one way to do things: the Right way, the no taxes for the wealthy way, the unfettered free market way, the drowned government way. They haven't had a new idea in decades, which is why it's so easy for them to remember their talking points.
There are people here who are locked into talking points just the same way, and most of them stem from the notion that Obama = Bush. There's the Corporatist talking point, and the Rahm Emanuel is the devil talking point (substitue DLC now and then). There's the endless wrangling about bi-partisanship and what a waste of time it is, and a long list of ways President Obama is following Bush as a warmonger, an enemy of the Constitution, and an abuser of human rights.
There's no point in discussing other possibilities with most of the hard left - Obama is a torturer because he argued against the notion that US courts should have jurisdiction in foreign countries. The only possible reason for him to make that argument, as I understand it, is that Obama wants to keep torturing people. That's a rather major, and demented, leap IMO. Maybe there are political issues here - maybe other countries don't want us to claim that US courts have jurisdiction inside their borders. They have no reason to assume we'd stop with one specific location - we don't have a reputation for respecting the sovereignty of other nations, do we?
I still haven't heard from anyone who can tell me that there's enough hard evidence to convict Dick Cheney, just a lot of ranting and gnashing of teeth about Nancy Pelosi's perfidy, Harry Reid's weakness, and Barack Obama's unwillingness to defend the Constitution. I guess a show trial might be satisfying at some level. So he walks? At least we tried, stupid and toothless as the try was.
I'm still gobsmacked when I read tirades about Obama bailing Wall Street out. TARP? Bush? Before Obama took office? Anyone? That's got to be a RW talking point, and it's disseminated here, on a Democratic blog. WTF?
How about the "Obama never wanted the Public Option" meme. It didn't matter that he was on the stump for it time after time, or for something that did the same thing whatever you call it. How about the reality that the Public Option wasn't all that great, not after it was watered down. But we still spent hours and days and weeks demanding that the Senate Finance Committee Bill include a PO. Major outrage, action calls every day, thousands of phone calls, thousands of e-mails threatening the Blue Dogs. That Committee was never going to put together a bill that was worth shit. There were several really excellent bills already out there, and we could have put that energy into supporting them. A fight against is rarely as effective as a fight for.
The well is now so poisoned that we can't even celebrate the fact that our President and our Congress succeeded in doing something that has been pending for 60+ years. "It's not good enough" is the battle cry. Well of course it's not enough, no piece of social legislation has ever been good enough at the outset. My biggest concern about that is that the internecine wars in the Progressive movement may just keep HCR from ever being good enough. Now we're so busy fighting our "I'm more Progressive than you are" wars that we can't put any energy into improving what we finally got.
Here's my suggestion to the disaffected: go ahead and work up a primary candidate for Obama in 2012. Or start your independent party and split the Democratic vote. Whatever you do, don't look at the consequences of the Nader candidacy, don't ever let yourselves think seriously about how responsible you are for the Bush years - blame it on the Supreme Court or crooked voting machines so you won't have to face what you helped create.
I encourage you to do this for two reasons. I'm feeling very vindictive right now, and I'd almost enjoy seeing you wailing and gnashing your teeth during the reprise of Dick Cheney's presidency. The real reason, though, is that your insistence on recycling losing strategies might just be the thing that unifies Democrats. Maybe this time we'll avoid tearing ourselves apart when we finally get into power. Maybe there are enough of us here who are not willing to go the "eating our own" route one more time, and we'll mobilize and leave you in the dust.
Real life politics are different from what we dream of. In reality, you have to start where you are - in a country that's been pushed hard right for 30 years - and deal with that reality while pushing back. I see President Obama as a real life politician. He knows he's not going to get everything he wants and he's willing to accept that. He's not willing to sit back and not try because it's too hard, he's not going to push his own agenda under a rug because he has to deal with Blue Dogs and the party of Hell No You Can't, and he's not going to lose big because it's the only way to please the left. If we can rein ourselves in and stop demanding the impossible we might actually get some pretty radical things accomplished.
The Republicans did us an enormous favor with "Death Panels" and the like. They drove down unrealistic expectations for HCR, and made it easier for people to appreciate the benefits they actually receive. Obama knows how to play them like cheap violins, and manages to push them further into la-la land all the time. He's appropriated their "drill baby drill" counter-argument to alternative fuels before they had a chance to start beating that drum. Now they have to find something even less reasonable to support - the HCR fight redux.
It's too bad so many people on the left can't understand his tactics or strategy. If he'd listened to us during the elections he'd be just another one of the losers. Why can't we learn from our mistakes? Is "hair on fire" our fallback position for every issue? It sure sounds like it some days.
UPDATE I had to take a break, I was getting pissy and I don't think clearly when I'm pissy.
I need to address some issues that have come up in comments>
- This diary is not meant to be calling clammymc out. I think we're talking about the same thing from slightly different perspectives, and he made several excellent points.
- This diary is meant to call out some of the commenters in clammy's diary. I'm tired of reading the same old talking points from the usual suspects, generally half-truths, sometimes outright lies, and mostly just parroted memes that come from who knows where.
- My title is playing off clammy's rather provocative title, but doesn't mean I'm really worried about Sarah Palin in 2012. I'm scared of whoever the neo-cons decide to install as their next figurehead. I'm scared that if progressive voters are undermined and become apathetic we'll live to see Dick Cheney running the country again. Or one of his clones, it doesn't matter.
- Yes I have seen calls for primarying Obama. I have read shit that I can't believe I'm seeing on a democratic blog. I'm pissed about a lot of it.
- I'm all about better democrats. I'll settle for more, on the way to getting better. If that's a problem for you I understand that, but it doesn't change my conviction that any Dem is better than any Repub at this point in time.
- If you're advocating for primarying Obama, you are, IMO, someone with all the common sense I'd expect to find in a teabagger. Sorry if that offends you.
I came back and reread comments this morning. What I noticed was that in it's initial stages this diary had some interesting comment threads that were actual dialogue, people who may have disagreements but could find some common beliefs or desires and talk about them in reasonable ways. Then the usual suspects showed up, and many threads degenerated into the kinds of talking points wars that are so useless. I noticed that the least fact-based commenters tend to be the ones who called loudest for facts from their opponents. I also saw some funny instances where the people who told me that no one seriously talks about primarying Obama then engage with the people who are seriously proposing primarying Obama.
I've also noted that I'm now being accused of thinking that torture is A-OK and no one should be prosecuted. I don't remember saying that or thinking that. I still haven't seen what I think it's going to take to make an effective prosecution happen, and I still maintain that what Cheney says on Fox is not really going to do the job. If you can twist that into me being a torture proponent, I guess it's not hard to see why things get a little strange on DKos.
I'd like to thank everyone who has been involved in substantive discussion here, and to tell you I appreciate a lot of what I've read, even when I don't necessarily agree with your positions. In many cases you've given me another way to look at something, an attitude I had that is in danger of hardening, of becoming a talking point for me. My vision of DKos isn't as jaundiced as it was when I slammed this diary out, and that's the real reason I come here. There's a lot to learn.