Now Why, Oh Why, Would Democratic Voter Enthusiasm Be Tanking?
Gallup reported this week that voting enthusiasm among Democrats is down sharply from 2004 and 2008, while GOP voter enthusiasm is up. Gallup suggests that "Democrats' depressed enthusiasm may be influenced by the comparatively tough re-election battle the president is facing, likely due to the state of the economy and Americans' generally sour mood."
I want to propose two other possibilities. First, the GOP super-serves their base while the Democratic Party spits on theirs. Since 2010, House Republicans were willing-- even eager-- to make themselves look like clowns and imbeciles for the sake of their core constituents, and they were willing to do that irrespective of the damage they did to the country. It's not so much that Democratic congressmembers put country first-- though many of them certainly do-- as much as Democrats being confused and splintered... and conflicted. They like calling themselves a Big Tent party. But what is that mean? That they welcome all kinds of opportunists whose values (and voting records) are antithetical to core Democratic principles. And that brings us to the second problem.
In 2010 Democratic voters and left-leaning independents sent the Democratic Party a clear message at the polls. By staying away in unprecedented numbers-- and allowing the worst Tea Party monstrosities to win seats, take over states and take over Congress, even to the point of crippling the country-- grassroots Democrats made it clear they would NOT vote for Blue Dogs, New Dems and conservative disguised as Democrats. 63 seats changed hands, all but two from Democratic to Republican. In House races, 44,593,666 people came out for the GOP and only 38,854,459 came out for Democrats. It was a rout. Even before the election 9 arch-conservatives who saw the writing on the wall retired-- Marion Berry (AR), John Tanner (TN), Bart Stupak (MI), Bart Gordon (TN), Charlie Melancon (LA), Artur Davis (AL), Vic Snyder (AR), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Dennis Moore (KS). Except for Davis' overwhelmingly African-American district, all the seats turned Republican. 22 Republicans also retired but only one of their seats (Delaware's fell to a Democrat). And on election day 54 incumbents lost their seats, all but 2 (accidental congressmen Charles Djou of Hawaii and Joseph Cao of Louisiana) were Democrats. Almost all of them were conservative Democrats who voted frequently with the GOP and all of them lost because of poor Democratic turnout. Among the Blue Dogs, New Dems and just plain vanilla conservatives who were defeated were Bobby Bright (AL), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Harry Mitchell (AZ), John Salazar (CO), Betsy Markey (CO), Allen Boyd (FL), Suzanne Kosmas (FL), Jim Marshall (GA), Walt Minnick (ID), Melissa Bean (IL), Debbie Halvorson (IL), Bill Foster (IL), Baron Hill (IN), Frank Kratovil (MD), Travis Childers (MS), Gene Taylor (MS), Ike Skelton (MO), John Adler (NJ), Harry Teague (NM), Michael McMahon (NY), Scott Murphy (NY), Dan Maffei (NY), Bob Etheridge (NC), Earl Pomeroy (ND), Charlie Wilson (OH), John Boccieri (OH), Zack Space (OH), Kathy Dahlkemper (PA), Patrick Murphy (PA), Chris Carney (PA), Paul Kanjorski (PA), John Spratt (SC), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD), Lincoln Davis (TN), Glenn Nye (VA), and Rick Boucher (VA).
So what did the Democratic Party learn from this disaster? Nancy Pelosi immediately appointed "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel as head of the DCCC and he immediately-- and predictably-- went out and started recruiting conservatives, in many cases the exact same conservatives who were just defeated. In other cases, new conservatives, even Republicans who agreed to change their voter registrations, like Patrick Murphy of Florida. At the same time, Israel did all he could to discourage and sabotage progressives and liberals from running, even former members.
Yesterday the Senate Democrats passed a bill to extend the Bush era taxcuts for everyone making less than a quarter million dollars annually. Incomes above $250,000 would be taxed at a rate that is still half what it should be. But every Republican, Lieberman and two conservative Democrats (Webb and Pryor) voted against it. It's this kind of vote that buoys the spirits of Democratic voters. But watch what happens when Boehner and Cantor defeat it in the House next week. How many of Steve Israel's top priority "Frontline Democrats" will vote with the GOP? And how many of his miserable new recruits would have. The list of Democrats running
This is what the president had to say about the Senate vote today. I wish it were true and that there weren't a bunch of Blue Dogs eager to join with the GOP in protecting unsustainably low tax rates for the super-wealthy:
"With the Senate’s vote, the House Republicans are now the only people left in Washington holding hostage the middle-class tax cuts for 98% of Americans and nearly every small business owner. The last thing a typical middle class family can afford is a $2,200 tax hike at the beginning of next year. It’s time for House Republicans to drop their demand for another $1 trillion giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and give our families and small businesses the financial security and certainty that they need. Our economy isn’t built from the top-down, it’s built from a strong and growing middle class, and that’s who we should be fighting for."
Want to increase Democratic enthusiasm? Support real Democrats running for office-- like these.