Monday, October 04, 2010

Could Congressional Progressives Come Out Of The Midterms In A Stronger Position?


There's the roll-up-your-sleaves-and-get-to-work way to win elections and then there's the Inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom about what candidates are supposed to do. Inside the Beltway it's all about fellating big donors and special interests all cycle, building up a tremendous warchest, hiring "the right, connected" consultants who have the clout to tap into the Beltway power stream, and leaving it all to "the experts." Meet the vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

At the grassroots level, it's all about registering voters all cycle, creating a bond with the voters, serving the interests of your base, creating a convincing narrative and putting together a ground game-- for pre-election day voters and for election day. Those are the ones Zeleny and Hulse were moaning and groaning about-- complicatingly resilient they called them-- in yesterday's NY Times. Fellating seems so much more attractive to most of the natural born fellatio artists who take up politics as a career.
By now, Republicans had hoped to put away a first layer of Democrats and set their sights on a second tier of incumbents. But the fight for control of Congress is more fluid than it seemed at Labor Day, with Democrats mounting strong resistance in some parts of the country as they try to hold off a potential Republican wave in November.

...Yet even as spending from outside groups is threatening to swamp many Democratic candidates, Republican strategists estimated that only half of the 39 seats they need to win control of the House were definitively in hand.

Many Democratic incumbents remain vulnerable, but their positions have stabilized in the last month as they have begun running negative advertisements to raise questions about their Republican challengers and shift the focus of voters away from contentious national issues like health care, bailouts and President Obama’s performance.

...“Our candidates are remaining viable long after the Republicans have counted them out,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Voters are taking a very close look at the Republican challengers.”

But the Beltway game is a losing game for Democrats. Ultimately the only way they can compete on that level is by turning themselves into Frankenstein Monsters barely distinguishable from Republicans... and we wind up with Blanche Lincolns and Ben Nelsons, Joe Liebermen and "leading" us, sold out corporate shills like Rahm Emanuel, Steny Hoyer and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Their model is fatally flawed and guarantees nothing but ultimate failure and stagnation. That said, a new poll, just out from Newsweek, offers hope despite the magnitude of the systemic ineptness of the DCCC, DSCC and DNC. All year polls have generally shown, as this one does, that in a generic congressional match-up-- so not taking into account that Sharron Angle has advocated murdering Harry Reid or that Christine O'Donnell wants to do something about "the great American masturbation problem" or that Daniel Webster is a devout and devoted follower of a religious charlatan who demands that disobedient women and children be stoned to death, or that Tom Ganley sexually assaulted a conservative Christian mother of four who was working for his campaign and, after dousing himself in cologne, spraying his mouth with breathe freshener and shoving a $100 at her, attempted to drag her into a bathroom and rape her-- that Democrats lead among registered voters (in this poll 48-43%). The corporate media then invented a narrative of it's own: the enthusiasm gap, in which the fired up minority who voted for McCain and yearn for more Bush-Cheney, would descend on the polls in droves while disappointed Democrats would sit home muttering darkly about how much they hate Rahm Emanuel.

That narrative crashed on the shoals of the huge turnout, at least relative to the widely promoted Beck Hatefest in DC, for the One Nation Working Together rally and on something that more progressives than just Bill Maher have been telling themselves in increasing numbers:
"When it comes to voting, when we only have two choices, you got to grow up and realize there's a big difference between a disappointing friend and a deadly enemy."

But the new poll has much better news for Democrats than a repetition of their lead among registered voters. Among respondents who say they are “definitely” going to vote in the midterms, the Democratic lead widens to 50- 42%! Presumably that's because voters, like Maher, trust Democrats more than the gruesome alternative.
[D]espite months of media coverage insisting that voters are "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore," anger is unlikely to decide this year's elections. For starters, self-described angry voters constitute only 23 percent of the electorate, and there's no reason to believe that they're more likely to cast ballots in November than their calmer peers. Why? Because the percentage of angry voters who say they will definitely vote in the midterms is statistically indistinguishable from the overall percentage of voters who say the same thing (84 percent vs. 81 percent). In fact, majorities of voters say they would not be more likely to vote for candidates who express anger at Washington incumbents (60 percent), Wall Street bankers (52 percent), the illegal-immigration problem (53 percent), the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (65 percent), or health-care reform (55 percent).  Fifty-three percent of voters see Obama's unemotional approach to politics-- his "coolness"-- as a positive, versus only 39 percent who don't.

Anger isn't the only factor that's been overhyped in the run-up to Election Day. The president, for example, appears to be a neutral force rather than a negative one. His approval rating stands at 48 percent, roughly where it has remained since January of this year, and far better than where George W. Bush stood before the 2006 midterms (33 percent) or where Bill Clinton stood in 1994 (36 percent). Meanwhile, the percentage of voters who say they will be voting "for Obama" in November's congressional elections (32 percent) is statistically identical to the percentage who say they will be voting "against" him (30 percent). Voters dissatisfied with the country's current course are more likely to place "a lot" of blame on Bush (39 percent) than on his successor (32 percent).

Another factor that has garnered a lot of potentially unwarranted attention is "the issues." Simply put, in the Newsweek Poll, voters said they trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle pretty much every problem currently facing the country: Afghanistan (by 6 points), health care (by 12), immigration (by 2, though that figure is within the margin of error), Social Security (by 14), unemployment (by 12), financial reform (by 14), energy (by 19), and education (by 19). Voters even prefer Democrats to Republicans on federal spending (by 4 points), taxes (by 5), and the economy (by 10)-- the GOP's core concerns. The only area where Republicans outpoll Democrats is the issue of terrorism, where they lead by a 6-point margin.

With very few exceptions, the Democrats in the most vulnerable positions are conservatives who have voted most consistently with Boehner and the untrusted GOP minority, Blue Dogs like Bobby Bright (AL), Glenn Nye (VA), Chris Carney (PA), Travis Childers (MS) and Frank Kratovil (MD) and inherently reactionary political cowards with no moral compasses like Tom Perriello (VA), Suzanne Kosmas (FL) and Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ). If Democrats can manage to hang onto the few progressives who refused to play the Republican lite game who are in jeopardy in swing districts-- Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Alan Grayson (FL), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH), Phil Hare (IL)-- and at the same time, manage to shed some of the dead weight, the House Democratic caucus will be far better off, far more focused on helping ordinary American families and far less susceptible to blackmail from corporate conservatives in its own midst.

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At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't describe my disgust with the "I'm a backstabbing Democrat but I'm better than a Republican lunatic so you've gotta vote for me" argument.

It is raw blackmail. It implicitly says, "I can act very badly indeed and screw you and your hopes six ways from Sunday while taking every corporate bribe in sight, but you know the Republican will be worse. In the end, you'll cave." It's Rahm-ism of the first order.

Happily, I live in New York. I can vote Green, Socialist, whatever -- and make good on my written promises to Schumer, Gillibrand and Obama that they won't get my votes ever again.

Schumer and Gillibrand will win. Obama will still carry NY in 2012. But I will be able to stop holding my nose at the polls. And they, the lying corporatist Dems, can worry about their margins of victory teetering toward zero.

Is it a selfish stance on my part? Perhaps, but I can no longer let these liars believe they can continue their cushy careers with impunity.

As far as "convincing narratives" go, the Dems don't have one. And I say that as a life-long Democrat. I voted for Schumer in every election he's been in. Hell, I sat across the aisle from him in Debby Tannenbaum's AP English class at James Madison HS. His constituency consists entirely of banksters and Likudniks now. He's just another sclerotic Beltway Dem whose highest ambition is to be the next Majority Leader.

As far as the House race in my district is concerned, I'm stuck with the last Republican on Long Island, the execrable Pete King whose fortune it is to never face a competent challenger.

So, you see, my disillusionment with the Democrats is total. They don't deserve to keep their fat asses in Washington and it's time they felt the wrath of the Democratic base they've betrayed. I'd like to see every one of these mofos primaried, but the party circles the wagons around their own every time. So be it. No votes from me, no contributions, nothing. The sole exception is Alan Grayson. I only wish we had a Congress of Grayson clones.

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous me said...

my disillusionment with the Democrats is total ... The sole exception is Alan Grayson

I agree, although I wouldn't say quite total. Probably half the Democratic Party is close to acceptable.

I would not put much faith in the polls though. Republicans still own the voting machines, and really, that is all that counts.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Jon K. said...

I have happily given my blood, sweat, tears and money to the Democrats this midterm, not just because the alternative is so much worse, but because the Democrats in both houses have done what no governing body the last decade wanted to do -- actually fight for Americans. Comprehensive Health Care reform: Done. Wall Stree Reform. Done. Equal Pay for Equal Work. Done. Billions of dollars for schools, green jobs, and to fix our piss poor infrastructure. Done. Student Loan reform. Done. And the list goes on and on and on.

When people express their disapproval for this Congress (worse than 2006 and 1998). I am awe-struck by their stupendous stupidty and down-right apathy. If people could be counted on to vote in their best interest with all pertitent facts, the GOP would not be within a cold breath from retaking either house of Congress. Hell, they wouldn't get back in power for 20 years or more!

I am thankful there is a small, highly motivated, and intelligent minority working with and voting for President Obama and giving him the leverage he needs to pull off these miracles. We are the ones changing this nation for the better, we are the ones fighting for a brighter future. And, reluctantly, we are forced to take the rest of the nation with us.

The Republican mindset seems to be one that calls on their loyal and dimwitted fan base to vote them into power with light weight promises but when it comes time to deliver, they more apt to go Cee-lo Green on everyone and just "say f*** you!" (Can anyone actually name a promise Bush fulfilled in 8 years?)

And that is a difference I learned long ago and refuse to go back to: Democrats care about everyone (even those that yell at them during town hall meetings) while Republicans just abide by the "every man for himself" way of governing. Yeah, you can take that elephant and shove him up your a**. Proud Democrat all the way. Now, on to victory!

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Jon K. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would not put much faith in the polls though. Republicans still own the voting machines, and really, that is all that counts.

And why is that? Why haven't Democrats changed that in states where they could have? Why haven't Democrats made these insecure voting machines an issue at the federal level?

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Jon K., I'm sorry you think I'm stupendously stupid for "expressing my disapproval for this Congress" (and don't forget my equal disapproval of Obama).

Shall I return the favor by pointing out the regrettable naiveté coupled with Panglossian fantasy of those who insist that the health "reform" and financial "reform" bills are anything but cruel jokes?

The only miracle inherent in these gifts to private corporations is how they manage to enshrine the worst aspects of both "systems" into law while simultaneously representing themselves as progressive.

And lest we forget, Obama has reneged, finessed or ignored every solemn campaign promise on Gitmo, Iraq, Afghanistan, executive overreach, govt transparency, warrentless spying on Americans and more. Instead, he's blown past Bush by asserting a presidential right to order assassinations of American citizens.

I don't care to rehash all the failures of the Obama administration to use the mandate and momentum it had in January 2009. I have never in 61 years seen a president who entered office with higher hopes in the electorate and who turned around and squandered every advantage he had.

I'm left with two possible explanations: Obama was lying all along and he achieved exactly what he wanted to achieve; or, he is pathologically adverse to any kind of confrontation or fight and is therefore willing to give up the game before it's even started. Either way, there seems to be no Democratic principle or value that can't be bargained away.

Obama is lucky, though, in that he has cadres of Obamabots leaping to his defense with cries of "He can't do it overnight!" and "It's 11-dimentional chess!" Yes, it's a good thing we Dems aren't afflicted with any of that "loyal and dimwitted fan base" that makes the Republicans look so ridiculous.

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous me said...

Can anyone actually name a promise Bush fulfilled in 8 years?

* Tax cuts for the rich.
* More religion in government (as long as it's conservative religion).
* Pack the courts with far-right judges.
* Undo nearly everything with Bill Clinton's name on it.

OK, now it's your turn. Name some that Obama has kept. And don't tell me about that bs health insurance bill, written by and for the health insurance companies.

And don't tell me about any bullshit "reform" either - REAL reform wpuld have started with imprisoning the malefactors in the banking industry and the republican party, something No-Balls Obama has steadfastly refused to do. If there's no penalty for crime, the criminals will continue, no matter how many so-called "reform" bills get passed.

Hell, forget about prosecutions - Obama has even avoided any investigation of the causes of our problems.

Obama accomplished one thing that Bush never did though - he called his predecessor a "patriot".

At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Socialists (e.g. Bernie Sanders self described democratic socialist) and Communists (e.g. Communist Party USA) are allied with the Democrats, so having Demint (a Republican) pictured with Hitler (a Socialist) and Stalin (a Communist) makes no sense.

At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Rhymes With Right said...

Odd, i thought it was unAmerican to compare our American politicians to Hitler and Stalin.

Oh, I get it -- it is unAmerican to compare Barack Obama and Democrats to Hitler and Stalin -- making such vile comparisons to republicans is the height of patriotism.

Just going to prove that you folks on the Left are hypocritical scumbags who need driven from power.

At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Rhymes With Right said...

REAL reform would have started with imprisoning the malefactors in the banking industry and the republican party

Would you care to offer criminal charges, or are you suggesting that there should have been an American equivalent of Mao's Cultural Revolution in which "enemies of the people " were simply imprisoned without charges until they were deemed contrite enough?

Such proposals make it clear that folks of your ilk can never, ever, be allowed to hold the reins of power in this country ever again.

At 7:04 PM, Blogger kkollwitz said...

Speaking as a DeMint voter, I'm sure he would be flattered that someone, anyone in America thinks he's charismatic.

The Hitler-DeMint-Stalin poster should be viewed by every voter in America by November.

At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that left wing totalitarian dictators are so often compsred to advocates of limited government and the free market?

Oh, thats right... Because leftists cannot think rationally.

Sorry, not sure what i was thinking.

At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice quote, but a little off -"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair Lewis. It should be "wrapped in a burqa carrying a Koran". Our nation was founded with the cross, it has not tried to take us over, and you better be scared of that Koran!


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