Who Is Responsible for the Progressive "Enthusiasm Gap?"

by: David Sirota

Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 08:06

If you believe there is an "enthusiasm gap" right now between a demoralized progressive base and a mobilized conservative base (and I certainly believe there is), then the logical question is why? Why does that enthusiasm gap exist? This is a source of endless debate between two camps.

If you believe there is an "enthusiasm gap" right now between a demoralized progressive base and a mobilized conservative base (and I certainly believe there is), then the logical question is why? This is a source of endless debate between two camps.

On one side are Democratic partisans who insist the gap exists because some progressive activists and media voices (ie. the so-called "Professional Left") have been too critical of the Obama administration and too insistent that President Obama fulfill - or at least actually try to fulfill - his basic campaign promises. The underlying assumption on this side is that Democratic voters are largely stupid fools who simply follow voting orders from a handful of activists and media voices - and because those activists and media voices aren't more enthusiastic, those lobotomized voters are reflexively reflecting that lack of enthusiasm.

On the other side are those progressive activists and media voices who say progressive voters are demoralized because the Obama administration hasn't fulfilled - or even tried to fulfill - it's most basic campaign promises (for a good list of those broken promises and positions where the Obama administration is worse than the Bush administration, see Glenn Greenwald's recent post here). This side sees voters as fairly intelligent - or, at least intelligent enough to make voting decisions based on an analysis of concrete issues, rather than simply on orders from activists and media voices. As just one example, this side sees this story in the New York Times about union members being unenthused about the election as a reflection of those union members' displeasure with the Obama administration's weak economic policies and failure to champion the Employee Free Choice Act - not as a reflection of those union members being under the mesmerizing spell of the tiny handful of bloggers, columnists, activsts and MSNBC hosts who have dared to report the inconvenient truths.

I, of course, happen to believe that the latter side is correct, and I believe that because I think A) Democratic voters are pretty smart and B) the handful of progressive voices/activists that have substantively criticized the Obama administration have far less power to shape public opinion than the national Democratic Party machinery, the White House political apparatus, and the bully pulpit of the presidency. The idea that, say, Glenn Greenwald or Jane Hamsher or Bill McKibben or Rachel Maddow or me or anyone else slandered as the "Professional Left" is somehow responsible for public opinion trends among the national Democratic electorate - and the White House, the Democratic Party and others are not - is, to put it mildly, quite preposterous. Sure, it's nice to imagine a world where principled progressive voices have as much or more public opinion power than the President of the United States and one of the two major political parties (not to mention their big corporate backers), but, alas, that's not the world we live in.

That said, even if you believe otherwise - even if you, in fact, believe that a handful of progressive activists and media voices are responsible for the enthusiasm gap - we should all be able to agree that the White House is exacerbating that enthusiasm gap by telling Democratic voters that its demands for promises to be fulfilled are unacceptable.  

David Sirota :: Who Is Responsible for the Progressive "Enthusiasm Gap?"
That was the message from President Obama late last week at a $30,000-a-plate fundraiser at Greenwich, Connecticut home of (I kid you not) a fundraiser named Rich Richman:

Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get -- to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed -- oh, well, the public option wasn't there. If you get the financial reform bill passed -- then, well, I don't know about this particularly derivatives rule, I'm not sure that I'm satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven't yet brought about world peace and -- (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.)

As Firedoglake reminds us, the president campaigned on the public option and as president cited it as one of his three foundational principles for real health care reform. Let's also remember that the White House quietly negotiated away the public option and cut deals with the pharmaceutical industry to weaken the health care bill. Let's remember, too, that the White House openly fought progressive efforts to seriously reform the Federal Reserve bank - one of the key actors in the market meltdown - and has (so far) refused to appoint Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (sorry, a mid-level White House aide position is way different than an official appointment to head the CFPB). The president also abandoned the cause of the Employee Free Choice Act, and, of course, didn't just fail to achieve "world peace," he massively escalated the Afghanistan war.

It would be one thing if the president acknowledged all of those verifiable facts - and offered some sort of explanation, however tortured. At least then, there would be some narrative telling Democratic voters why all of this (supposedly) had to happen, and why we should continue to believe Democrats will, eventually, fight the good fight. In other words, there would at least be a story that might attempt to counter the enthusiasm gap and build a case for voters to go out and vote Democratic in November.

Instead, the president has decided to not even acknowledge the legitimacy of Democratic voters' expectations - many of which he himself asked us embrace in his "real change"-themed campaign for the presidency. That's right, just as White House press secretary Robert Gibbs attacked the "Professional Left" a few weeks ago, the president has decided to make fun of Democratic voters who dare expect him to fight for the policies he promised.

As I wrote in an earlier newspaper column entitled "Whither the Sacred Campaign Promise," this tactic of denying the very legitimacy of expectations has become the standard political tactic of this White House. Rather than acknowledge expectations' basic legitimacy, this administration seems to think it can just tell voters that it either never made promises it clearly made or that voters are immature children the minimal things they expect. The calculation, as mentioned above, is that voters are so stupid and lobotomized they will submit to pure historical revisionism and brainwashing - they will, in short, feel crazy for even thinking more could be done than the White House is doing.

Perhaps this "these are not the droids you are looking for" strategy will work. Maybe it's true that effectively telling Democratic voters that they are idiots and are misremembering recent history will motivate those voters to vote in November. And maybe progressive activists and media voices are the idiots for saying that a better strategy to motivate Democratic voters (and, by the way, better public policy) is to simply fight harder for and deliver on the progressive policies promised in the 2008 election.

But I don't think so. I think voters are smarter than this and, therefore, that strategy is a way to exacerbate the enthusiasm gap. And I think those who say - and act - otherwise are the ones who will be responsible for whatever Democratic losses occur in November.

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I don't know (4.00 / 2)
first Mike Lux, our Resident Insider, and then Paul Rosenberg, our UG Theoretician, really fired us up with the new campaign strategy emerging from the Democratic campaign gurus, to run A POPULIST CAMPAIGN!!!!! It was really hard to hold us down after that gem as we instantly rolled up our sleeves to join battle.

I hope to be a tiny bit responsible.... (0.00 / 0)
for whatever Democratic losses occur in November.

We are forming a national NOTA campaign.  "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take any legacy or Tea Bagger party anymore."

And we are not alone: (0.00 / 0)
From Gallup:

"The desire for a third party is fairly similar across ideological groups, with 61% of liberals, 60% of moderates, and 54% of conservatives believing a third major party is needed. That is a narrower gap than Gallup has found in the past; conservatives have typically been far less likely than liberals and moderates to support the creation of a third party."


[ Parent ]
I'm With You. (4.00 / 1)
Write it in wherever you need to.  If you can't morally vote for the TeaBagger or the CorpoDem, write in 'None Of The Above' and show your displeaure with our constricted choices.  

Decarbonize, Deglobalize, Demilitarize

[ Parent ]
What, are there no leftist minor party candidates running? (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
I'm really tired of this WH treating populist progressives like a spouse they're cheating on. (0.00 / 0)
In the classic comedy bit, the unfaithful spouse denies the presence of a third party in the marital bed as the offended spouse stands in the bedroom door way, "Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes, #$%@ retard."

When Rahm, Axelrod, Geitner and Summers get their walking papers, give me a call.  Until then, I going hunting "Momma Grizzilies."  

possibly (4.00 / 2)
Obama was borrowing a page from FDR. FDR used to mock his enemies. Here Obama, with his incomparable political instincts, extends this policy to his disappointed and hard-pressed supporters, a rich target for mockery and contempt. I think the intention here from the Three Stooges of Change (Obama, Rahm and Gibbs) is to true and connect with people, show humility, empathy and caring for their situation in tough economic times when EVERYBODY is sacrificing so very much.

So, just another misreading of FDR's biography? (0.00 / 0)
Damn, but that guy allegeldy has had a first class education, or not? What's wrong with Harvard, why do they let students pass who can't read properly???

[ Parent ]
Submitting to the dark side of establishment neoliberalism (4.00 / 1)
has the unfortunate side effect of loss of comprehension and reasoning ability.

[ Parent ]
I blame the Blue Dog Democrats (4.00 / 4)
If these ass hats would understand that when their constituents voted them in they knew their was a "D" by their name we wouldn't be in this fix.  

"Righties have no idea what we lefties think, because they never listen to us. They listen to the straw lefties that live in their own heads, and then they explain to each other what we think."  - Barbara O'Brien

And I blame the blue dog president and his blue dog team, too. (4.00 / 9)
Because, where's the effing difference? Different chapters of the same gang, that's all!

[ Parent ]
Thge difference is a powerfrul Ms. Warren. (0.00 / 0)
And that difference is a world of difference.

Hey, I think a few days perusing the rights websites will do a world of good to your interest in preventing these crazies from taking power.

Go watch Fox news, think about them having a free hand.



The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
I wish I could share your optimism, HoP. Really. (0.00 / 0)
But, come on, even Supergirl can't singlehandedly force the whole WH and the effing Senate into a more progressive direction. We would need many more Superheroes to accomplish that.

[ Parent ]
So the choice is.... (4.00 / 1)
evil and really evil?

(Kind of like Obama using women and Roe v Wade as scare tactics....and then throwing women under the bus...and then backing that bus back up over us a couple of more times?)

Great.  Can you just see this country in another 5 years?

NOTA in November - that's the vote that must be sent.

[ Parent ]
The nation is in very deep shit now. No time for such games. (0.00 / 0)
NOTA has a place in better times, when the nation can afford giving control to the rethugs for two years, as leverage to force the Dems into the right (=left) direction. But, really, look at the economy now. It's becoming increasingly clear the US need another big stimulus NOW, and it won't get it if the rethugs have the majority. This can't wait two years. And the results of irresponsible right wing economics now would be truely disastrous. Your "cure" would be much worse than the desease.

I understand that you're so p***ed off now that you can't stand voting for the Dems anymore. Ok. I don't think it's a good idea, but it's your decision. But do you feel confident enough about the possible consequences of NOTA that you want to persuade others to join you in this? Are you willing to bear the consequences, not only for you but for the others, too, if this results in total economical desaster? Despite better informed people telling you that this is extremely risky?

Stay at home, or write Fidel Castro in, your choice. But don't persuade other voters that you have a great idea about how to save the US. Because you don't. If the Dems lose now, it will be a desaster. And the Damn reaction on NOTA in two years will be too late to repair the damage. The situation is simply too urgent now to for this.

[ Parent ]
What is the difference between writing in NOTA (0.00 / 0)
or voting for a Green or staying at home or writing in Fidel Castro?  It's exactly the same EXCEPT it sends a single-minded message - ALL OF THE CURRENT CREW - legacy or tea baggers are worthless.

Sorry - but I am not going to be cowed by scare tactics to vote or help any current politician continue to take this country down.  It's time for a revolution and if NOTA helps ignite the interest, I'll be please as punch.

[ Parent ]
Not much. But that's not the point. (0.00 / 0)
Sry for making myself not clear. Guess I'm too confused today.

Ok, my point is, if you can't stand voting for any Dem, voting for a left wing third party or write in a leftie at least makes the point you're not simply lazy, but actually interested in the election, but turned off by the Dems. We already talked about that.

But that's your personal choice, and probably not the most reasonable one. Pure reason would tell us to hold our nose and vote for the "lesser of two evils". Now, that's a bit too much to ask from those who are too enraged about all the treason in the last two years, ok. But pls don't pretend your EMOTIONAL decision is the most rational one, and that it would be good if other people did the same. Pls let everybody do his own reasoning, and don't drag them down even more! OK?

I hope I could make this more understandable this time. Guess I should have thought this through more thoroughly  before commenting. Sry.

I'm off to bed now. I'm useless for the world today anyway.

[ Parent ]
If you picked out a specific issue - the stimulus - the politics should be easy to work out (4.00 / 1)
Mere Democratic control of the Senate in no way guarantees that a stimulus, especially a "big" one, is possible.  It doesn't even make it likely at all, as a 59-vote Democratic majority was just barely able to pass a half-assed stimulus in early 2009 and hasn't been able to pass any big stimuli since, just some little bits here and there.

Most of the Democrats likely to lose this November are ConservaDems who wouldn't support stimuli anyway.  Just thinking of the Senate: Michael Bennet, who came out against the latest bite-sized stimulus; Blanche Lincoln, Brad Ellsworth, some others I can't think of right now.

If Democrats had this much trouble passing a stimulus with 59 votes, what makes you think they'd be able to do it at all with just 52?  We're not going to be getting "big stimulus" in any case - in fact, President Obama's called for a spending freeze - so that's not a defining issue on which party we want in control of Congress.

[ Parent ]
Here's hoping the remaining Damn Senators learned their lesson... (0.00 / 0)
...and see that the clock is ticking for them, too. And thus, that they'll kill the effing filibuster on day one of the new session, with 50 votes + Biden.

[ Parent ]
So we should do that the Good Cop says . . . (4.00 / 4)
. . . because the Bad Cop is so much worse?

Hint:  they both work for the same people and want the same things.

[ Parent ]
No, Because the bad cop will kill you. (0.00 / 0)
Imho the economic situation is so dangerous. Just look at the job numbers. The last stimulus is running out, and without a new one the economy will tank. Because the trickle down voodoo of the rethugs can't work now, at a time when there's actually too much capacity (=supply) sitting idle because of domestic demand suffering from people having no money to spend. This doesn't say that there's a 100% guarantee that the Dems will finally do the right thing, but with them, the nation at least has a chance. With the rethugs, it's hopeless.

[ Parent ]
The Dems will not do the right thing.  They will do exactly what the rethugs will do.  Line their own pockets and screw the rest of us.

Do not believe that things will change.  I am shocked at how bad things have gotten since your hero Obama was elected.  It will continue to get worse - no matter who is "in charge".

You obviously are not a woman and had to sit by and get screwed by the boys in DC.  Once it happens to you personally you will know how things cannot continue the way they are.

[ Parent ]
Maybe that metaphor isn't very good. (0.00 / 0)
Let's say, two GROUPS of cops!
Rethuglican cops, 100% bad, they'll kill us just to test their guns.
Dem cops, 50% bad. It's a hodgepodge of good and bad ones, and of course our interest is to increase the number of the god guys, in order to increase our chances to survive. Got it?

So, sorry, but imho your point that Dems=Rethugs is misguided and ot helpful.

"You obviously are not a woman and had to sit by and get screwed by the boys in DC."
No, actually not. Sorry to hear that.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, But (0.00 / 0)
The President is a lot of things, but I would never consider him a "Blue Dog" - Rahm yes. Obama is pragmatic and as long as these Blue Dogs and the house and Senate vote the way they do he will never be able to pursue a more progressive agenda.

"Righties have no idea what we lefties think, because they never listen to us. They listen to the straw lefties that live in their own heads, and then they explain to each other what we think."  - Barbara O'Brien

[ Parent ]
if he can NEVER do anything without getting the support of the blue dogs (4.00 / 4)
in House and Senate, then I guess it is all pretty useless, because I don't see any time soon say in the next few centuries, when the House and Senate will be without blue dogs. It was fortunate for the Republicans (and unfortunate for the rest of us) that they were not subject to phastphil's iron law of "no progress possible" in this world. How can that be?

[ Parent ]
The answer: a pro-business, semi neo-con liberal. (4.00 / 7)
The question: what is a moderate/Blue dog/centrist?

When I tried to figure out which came first, our kow-towing to the Right President or our chicken-shit Senate majority, you have only to look to the President's #1 congressional liason, Rahm Emanuel, to discover who's responsible for letting a hard core moderate/Dog like Max Baucus run the health care show.

I personally think the way HCR was handled by the WH not only surprised and demoralized our stronger Senators, the WH ultimately forced all of them to kow-tow to the Lieberman's and Nelson's  

Obama willingly hired and still retains Emanuel.  Obama let himself be led by Emanuel and the Dogs of the Senate and let them take control of his agenda.

Then he defends all of them and their actions to this day, making him the biggest Dog of all.  

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.

[ Parent ]
And so.. (4.00 / 1)
...this is why I now spend most of my free activist time on the Food Channel.

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.

[ Parent ]
No misunderstanding: I don't say abandon the Dems alltogether! (4.00 / 2)
I say, let's fight for the progressives and the good Dems, and let's not waste resources on the blue dog buddies of team Obama. They'll have to see for themselves, and it's questionable if the money from the D-orgs will substitute the lack of enthusiasm about them. Tough luck.

But for the progressives gaining more power, they have to survive the onslaught. And they'll need help with that. So, let's roll!

[ Parent ]
Can you name one national "good dem"? (4.00 / 1)
Who will give Obama a primary in 2012 and win?

Hell, who will give Obama a primary in 2012 - as we know s/he will never win.

[ Parent ]
Grayson. Weiner. Dean. Even Pelosi. Who knows? (0.00 / 0)
We'll know ehne they throw thewir hat in the ring. But they won#t do it before the election, so that doesn't helpus now. Of course, I'm aware that you probably will find flaws in every single one of them, but, come on, let's not be fundamentalists. Progressives can't expect that their "perfect" candidate will show up. Because firstly, we see here at OpenLeft that we're too divided in our views of those politicians, too. And secondly, the progressives simply don't have enough votes to elect a president. So, any candidate will probably move to the left of us (jhopefully not too much!) in order to gain the additional votes. That's almost inevitable.

But let's not forget, a better Dem president than Obama in 2013 will have a very difficult job if one or even both Houses of Congress are run by the rethuglicans then! That's why it's important to not let them hijack the legislative now. Congress is as important as the presidency, and to implement changes, you need both.

[ Parent ]
"move to the right" of us, of course! (0.00 / 0)
And sry for typos.

Damn, I'm tired and depressed. Bad news everywhere, real life is crap, it's exhausting.

[ Parent ]
My heart stopped when I read..... (0.00 / 0)
Dean and Pelosi.  Please - defeat Pelosi and do this country a favor.

Weiner is good.  Grayson?  Who knows....he's been on the scene for a couple of years and has been running for re-election ever since he got elected....kind of like Obama, who started campaigning for his next job the second he was elected.  And you know how well that's worked out for the country.

[ Parent ]
Well, to be fair, he kinda has to (0.00 / 0)
in a lean Republican district.

Anyway, I doubt any of these guys and gals will primary Obama, unless his approval rating sinks below 30 or 35.

[ Parent ]
From your keyboard to God's ear! (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Won't take long for Obama to reach that low. (0.00 / 0)
He's unwilling to seriously change the direction and embrace progressive talking points. So, he'll contiunue to fail in reviving the economy. Approval rate 30 isn't far away.

[ Parent ]
Pelosi did a great job. (0.00 / 0)
She had to deal with a House where blue dogs, Dino's and the Stupak gang created serious problems every other day. That ther are so many idiots and traitors among the Damn caucus is not her fault. And no other progressive could have achieved better results under these circumstances.

It was Reid and his effing Senators who ruined good legislation time and again! Don't blame the wrong people.

[ Parent ]
Your point is well taken (0.00 / 0)
but in fairness (which I'm trying to practice more of these days!) Pelosi only has to get 50% of her house; Reid has to get 60% of his.

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily. (0.00 / 0)
He only would have had to get 50 votes together one time to nuke the filibuster. Or at least to use reconciliation much ealier in the game. But, yeah, I know, nobody could have foreseen the amount of rethuglican obstructionism...

[ Parent ]
That's another level of competence (0.00 / 0)
That's like saying, well Yo-Yo Ma is a great cello player, but why is he so lousy at basketball?!!

Destroying the filibuster and going straight to reconciliation seem to be feats far beyond the capabilities of any normal Senator.  And I don't think any other Senator would've done those things if they'd been Majority Leader.

[ Parent ]
Uh, the filibuster rules HAVE been changed in the past (0.00 / 0)
How did those majority leaders do that?

[ Parent ]
corporations (some more than others) and people who support class warfare by the wealthy (4.00 / 3)

oops i forgot the key other - their enablers in politics (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
Well, insults and ridicule won't close the enthusiasm gap. (4.00 / 2)
And even more promises, neither. When words fail, the WH should fall back on a proven way to ensure support: Bribery!

Yeah, offer something to the progressives for their support! So far, Obama fired two progressives and appointed only one, he needs to do much more to get ahead. How about more recess appointments of progressives and unionists for regulation offices? And how about repealing those policies that Bush put into place, like increased secrecy, prosecution of whistle blowers, and all that civil rights stuff? You don't need Congress to do that, Mr. President!

Also, remember the traditional method of begging for favors from the gods: Sacrifice a scapegoat! Let Geithner, Summer and Emanuel draw straws. One of them has to take all your sins on his back, and to bear the consequences for the greater good of team Obama.

And then, support. This will cost you nothing. Simply call a press conference, and endorse some progressive hobbyhorses like DADT repeal. Call some Senators and remind them of the maount of federal moneys for their districts. Come on, this can't be so hard!

Well, if you care at all about winning the election, this would be a small prize to pay. Simply deliver their pound of flesh to those nasty progressives! Since actions speak louder than words, this will do much more for closing the enthusiasm gap. But do it now, the elections and right around the corner. And don't consult Wall Street for a second opinon. You're the decider, not them, after all! Or so it's supposed to be...

none of this happened....or will (4.00 / 2)
Too late for recess appointments, the last recess before November is over. And there is no (widely known) movement to do anything else you mentioned.

What conclusion can be drawn (by thinking people) other than the one already developed on the left?

The competition between Repub politicians and Dem politicians, whial firece, is only; part show and part effort to individually advance into the monied class. I no longer believe the majority of Democratic politicians have the people's best interests as overall principle. It is now obvious that BOTH parties represent capital over people.

When the choice is, the insane radical right or the far right it seems to me there is "none of the above" to vote for.

That Obama brought this on himself indicates he never was what he pretended to be.  

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

[ Parent ]
None of the Above! (0.00 / 0)


NOTA in November.

"That Obama brought this on himself indicates he never was what he pretended to be."


[ Parent ]
But Obama isn't up for reelection now. (4.00 / 1)
The Dems are. And there are many among them who are good progressivesw, and who got folled by the call for change, just like you did. How, exactly, do you retaliate against  Obama by hurting other progressives? And what if Obama actually is interested in the rethugs winning, so that he can have more of hsi effing bipartisanship?

Really, I understand your feelings, but I don't think you have thought this through to the end.

[ Parent ]
I have thought this thing through every day....... (0.00 / 0)
...for the past 10 years.

And I can't believe you said this:

How, exactly, do you retaliate against  Obama by hurting other progressives?

Other progressives???????  You are (please tell me) NOT suggesting that Obama has one shred of progressive/liberal feelings in his bones are you?  

And I did not get foiled by the call for change....I never believed it for one second.  And all of us who voted in 2008 primaries with a clear mind are not the ones to blame.

I never did like Kool-Aid - even as a kid.

[ Parent ]
Excuse me pls, WHAT? (0.00 / 0)
"You are (please tell me) NOT suggesting that Obama has one shred of progressive/liberal feelings in his bones are you?"

No!!! I said "other progressives"! Progressives like us! Not like Obama, for heaven's sake.
Damn, I should take a break. Looks like I#m only writing crap recently.

[ Parent ]
Before you go ballistic (4.00 / 2)
you might want to consider which Democrats everyone is voting on.

Liberals - like, real liberals - are a small-to-tiny minority in the Senate Democratic Caucus and a slightly larger but still small minority in the House Democratic Caucus, depending on how generous your definition is.  Moreover, very few of the close races this year involve real liberals, since the most endangered candidates are typically in the most conservative states.

So if someone is threatening to vote NOTA or minor party or whatever, chances are they're not going to be voting against a real liberal/progressive.  If they are, they should say so and then we can have our vitriolic debate.

[ Parent ]
sums up my intent (0.00 / 0)
I will vote for every shade of lefty, from progressive to moderately liberal, regardless party.

When none are on the ballot, I will not leave a choice blank, but will wright in a real progressive, or "none of the above" to advance the point for any who study results.

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

[ Parent ]
That's the right spirit! (0.00 / 0)
Sry for maybe gett5ing this wrong, because people engage in false generalisations and say they won't vote for the Dems. Which is nonsense, of course, because there are some progressives among the Dems.

Your attitude is the right one, reggie. Progressives first, and if there isn't a good candidate on your ballot, write in one! That's how to make a progressive point with your vote. Good.

[ Parent ]
Gap (4.00 / 1)
If the enthusiasm gap is caused by media people badmouthing Democrats, shouldn't every election have one?

You havent noticed? (0.00 / 0)
After Bush the landslide would have been what without it?


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
how big would the landslide have been... (0.00 / 0)
If we had verifiable vote counting?

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

[ Parent ]
I agree completely, we need verified vote counting (0.00 / 0)
just like they have in Venezuela.

I am not kidding. You get a paper ballot after you vote electronically, you get a copy, and you place another copy in a ballot box, which is used to verify the vote by hand counting, if the electronic vote is challenged.

That, plus an open source verfifyable electronic software system, is the system I want.  


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
History is written by the "winners". (0.00 / 0)
When the winners are crooked, then so is history.

[ Parent ]
Dump Obama (4.00 / 5)
The notion is beginning to circulate that it's not that Obama & Co. are stupid, but rather that they WANT Republican gains this November.  That way, they can effectively pursue policies such as gutting Social Security that would be impossible with a vibrant Democratic majority.

I had been skeptical, but after that fundraiser, I'm beginning to believe it.  They wouldn't do such a thing, you say?  Recall that in 1972, elements of the old-line Democratic machine sandbagged George McGovern to cost him the election.  Winning an election was less important than maintaining control of the party.

Ditching the left may be MORE important than holding on to their majorities.  And they've set up the narrative -- after they get creamed this November -- to blame the left for the defeat.

People have chided me that Dump Obama was a bad idea because it might hurt Democrats in November.

I would contend that Democrats have a better chance of surviving if they Dump Obama and distance themselves as far as possible from his failing regime.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

The Democratic machine (including Obama).... (4.00 / 2)
...sandbagged Ned Lamont in his fight against that champion of liberal policies Joe Lieberman, and this country has been paying for it ever since.

[ Parent ]
Ditching the left is impossible. (4.00 / 3)
Their ability to absorb contempt, arrogance, hatred, abuse, without getting anything worthwhile in return is part of what makes them so useful. They will remain faithful  like an abused wife to take the blame for a dishonest party. After all, it's better than the alternative.

[ Parent ]
Eliminating the left may be impossible ... (4.00 / 1)
... but while of course there are those who will "absorb contempt, arrogance, hatred, abuse, without getting anything worthwhile in return," others are walking away in disgust.

My preference is that -- instead of just drifting away in dribs and drabs -- they attempt to form a more cohesive bloc that can actually challenge something.  That is the point of Dump Obama, to provide an extremely wide umbrella within which we can say we stand for something.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
Again, Jeff, NOT NOW! Obama isn't up for election. (0.00 / 0)
The Dems are. So, would you pls acknoledge that there are elections ahead now, and that the horrible trickle down economics of the right can only result in ruining the nation? While with the Dems there's at least a 50% chance they'll do the right thing, because they only consist of 50% sellouts, but also of 50% reasonable liberals?

As I said now repeatedly, Dump Obama may be the right way to replace the guy, or force him into the right direction, but right now the important issue is the elections first. And I don't see that you have any real strategy how to deal with it. Obama, Shmobama, what about the Dems' fight about Congress NOW?

[ Parent ]
The Dems in Congress now are the same.... (0.00 / 0)
...as the Repugs in Congress.

They all jump to their masters' commands....and the people of this county are not those masters.  We're just chumps.

[ Parent ]
Not ALL Dems! (4.00 / 2)
Can we stop those generalizations, pls? We shouldn't throw Dem progressives into the same drawer as the effing DINOs. Really.

[ Parent ]
I did address your point ... (4.00 / 1)
I would contend that Democrats have a better chance of surviving if they Dump Obama and distance themselves as far as possible from his failing regime.

Obama is throwing progressives to the wolves RIGHT NOW!  Dumping Obama is a matter of their and our survival.

As for who's up for election, the Dems are trying to turn this election into a choice between Obama and Boehner.  Live by the sword ...

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
Link? (0.00 / 0)
On one side are Democratic partisans who insist the gap exists because some progressive activists and media voices (ie. the so-called "Professional Left") have been too critical of the Obama administration and too insistent that President Obama fulfill - or at least actually try to fulfill - his basic campaign promises.

This seems to be a distortion of the "other view". Do you have a link to a quote?

And no - the quote of President Obama is a completely different position. He basically says: "We had a lot of success but you concentrate on the few shortcomings."

What flavor Kool-Aid... (0.00 / 0)
are you peddling?

[ Parent ]
Delicious (0.00 / 0)
"Link or it didn't happen" Kool-Aid is really delicious.

[ Parent ]
I think their ass is grass because they pissed off the teachers (0.00 / 0)
unions, with corporate charters schools,  and old line civil rights groups are noticing the neoliberals piss on them.  The netroots were oblivious to the dc mayors race.

My blog  

Yes, of course there's an enthusiasm gap (4.00 / 7)
Which is what emerges when you run against your base. We have both statistical and anecdotal info showing that labor, Latinos, and young voters are fleeing Obama and the Dems. And while blacks still strongly support Obama, they're among the voters least likely to vote, perhaps because O's not on the ballot.

The only wonder is that the gap isn't larger. Indeed, the biggest problem for Dems is their piss poor ratings among independents.

Which brings us back to where we always start, economic populism. Independents are down on Dems for the same reason many Dems are, O's failure to seize the populism moment, his embrace of Wall Street, his failure to have a real jobs program.  

re: the "gap" (0.00 / 0)
One could begin here.  The embedded link in the second tweet is to an article at the NYT.  

I posted this over at Mike's thread on "paradox polls", but it fits here too (4.00 / 1)
It's not ideological, but at the same time, it IS   (0.00 / 0)
It's true that non-political American voters are not coherently ideological, but they are incoherently ideologically conservative, in the sense that they'll yell hoarsely about how government sucks and how government needs to be reduced... until you try to take away their unemployment or their Social Security, at which point they scream and cling to their government subsides like a baby to their prized toy.

This sort of ideological/programmatic mismatch, where they're ideologically conservative but programmatically liberal, gives Republican challengers an advantage because they love to rail on and on about how government sucks and how they'll "cut spending", without having to give any details on exactly what spending they'll cut.  Those who have, like Sharron Angle with Social Security, may be vulnerable to backlash, but those details seem to be lost in the lusty noises of conservative anti-government rhetoric.

You can see this in this quote from Ray Barrow (h/t to bystander from David Sirota's enthusiasm gap thread for this link):

One such voter, Ray Barrow of Reston, Va., a 69-year-old independent who voted for Mr. Obama, said: "I'm enthusiastic about candidates that want to talk about fiscal conservatism. I am dissatisfied with the performance of both the president and the Democrat-controlled Congress. I'm going to vote for candidates who believe in fiscal conservatism and the right way to spend to create jobs." [emphasis added]

He's a fiscal conservative, but at the same time he wants to "spend to create jobs"?  Maybe I'm picking the wrong target here, as he doesn't really flesh out what he means by that (and I somehow doubt that he could).  But the point is, most of these type of swing voters are people who don't follow politics and don't have well-informed opinions.  Their politics instead are a cluttered grab-bag, a mix of conservative anti-government talking points they pick up from TV or their neighbors and their experiences of helpful government services like the police, military, public schools, libraries, unemployment, Social Security, Medicare, etc.  Thus, they're walking contradictions with two political identities - a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, if you will - and right now because Republicans are out of power and can make ideological appeals, it's easier to bring out their conservative Mr. Hydes.  That's why Republicans are winning and are enjoying an advantage in enthusiasm.  Once Republicans get back into power and try to cut Social Security, the liberal Dr. Jekylls will come roaring back.

Recent American political history is a series of back-and-forths between the conservative ideology and the liberal programs.  Conservative ideology won in 1980, liberal programs won in 1982, conservative ideology in 1984, liberal programs in 1986, conservative in 1988, liberal in 1992, conservative in 1994, liberal in 1996, conservative in 2000 and 2004, liberal in 2006 and 2008.  Now it's conservatives' turn in this stupid political dance.

The only way we're ever going to stop this political cycle is when we've taken back control of the ideological debate and restored Americans' trust in the government's potential ability to make our lives better.  When we've gained the upper hand in politics and programs - as we had from 1932 to 1966 - we'll be politically unstoppable.


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