Well…it was as bad as expected.
67 House seats and control of the House lost for the Dems…say hello to Speaker John Boehner.
6 Senate seats lost, but thanks to the overreach and the stupidity of some Tea Party/Republican nominees like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and a few others, the Dems barely retain control of the Senate…at least, formally.
Some decent progressives gpt run….Grayson (FL), Conroy (OH), Perriello (VA), and Murphy (PA) in the House, Feingold (WI) in the Senate.
The Blue Dogs mostly got waxed but good: 41 lost their seats.
The Dems lost big in most states (California excepted): 8 governorships lost, total wipeouts in Wisconsin and North Corlina, where Repubs now control the governorships and both houses of their state legislatures.
Rubio beat Crist/Meek in FL; Toomey beat Seestak in PA; Lincoln lost in AR. President Obama’s old Senate seat flipped to Repub, too.
Alaska is still up in the air, though…and probably will be for days if not weeks.
But, all in all, a devastating night for Democrats, if not catastrophic. And, a disaster for progressives/liberals.
Simply put: the Right showed up, the Left didn’t, and the Center broke late with the Right.
Mostly, it was the activism and big bucks of the Tea Party, reinforced with the anger and rage of the usual right-wing suspects that have been gunnning after Obama and the Democrats since time immortal, motivating their peeps to go out and vote.
And, just as mostly, it was the pitiful and shameful treatement of the thie own most fervent suppoeters by the Democrats, as well as the tepid efforts ad addressing their basic giievances and insulting and degrading treatment by the Democratss, that contributed to their demise.
When you promise to do one thing and don’t deliver, you desereve to get beat. When you promise radical “change” and then promptly don’t change a thing, and in fact simply replicate and even extend the very things you promise to change…well, then you deserve to get not only beat, but beat down.
And that, in a nutshell, is what happened to the Democrats yesterday.
You don’t promise to reverse 8 years of past Republican policy, then promptly give the perpetrators of that policy carte balance to sey your own policy.
You don’t promise progressive reform of health care, but then reject the most common sense progressive model (comprehensive universal single payer) in favor of a convoluted, confusing, and ultimately woefully inadequate “forced mandate” for people to be coerced to buy private insurance that falls short of even the most basic needs.
You don’t come to power promising to end your opponent’s endless wars, then promptly move to extend them and even increase funding commitments for said wars.
You don’t go into negotiations trying to make nice with an advesary who wants to basically kill you, who thinks that you are at your core illegitimate, unfit, and even an “alien” ruler contaminating “their” White House.
But most of all…you don’t take the very voters who put you in power and basically and continually take proverbial dumps on them by neglecting their core issues, and then expect them to totally love you for the crumbs of corn located within that mountain of crap….all because the other side has gone totally loony batshit mad and fascist.
Unfortunately, that has been the Democratic Party’s modus operandi for the past 40 years: use progressives and liberals as stepping stones to power, only to abandon them when they get power to serve their real masters (the corporate/industrial complex) and pander to virtually the same conservative/right-wing base as the Republicans.
It was the way for the presidency of Bill Clinton in 1992: fake Left with promises of lifting prohibitions ogainst gays in the military along with “managed care reform”; only to switch gears towards “welfare reform” and other means of punishing thei supporters after the Newt Gingrich-led Class of 1994 took over.
Very fortunately for Bubba and Hillary, the Repubs back then overextended themselves on impeachment, and the Clintons were able to react and respond.
Problem is, though, Clinton had a booming economy, a decent liberal base that stayed loyal in their masochistic way, and Newtie as an advesary.
The curent president may still have the Senate behind him, but his situation may be much worse…and so are the progressives.
For one thing, the lunatic fronge of the Grand Old Tea Party will be raking every leaf for anything they can use to smear Obama with. Already, there is talk of inventing some ground for impeachment (a purported deal with Seestak to have him drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate race and grease the weel for former GOP gadfly Arlen Specter; or some new invention of “Birtherism”, or the “selling” of Obama’s former Illinois Senate seat..or whatever they can invent). Their best interest os to simply obstruct and veto and block anything Prez O attempts, unless he completely surrenders to right-wing dogma..and even then their eternal hatred would probably win out.
Secondly…the usual forces of elite neo-reaction within the Democratic Party are already on the case, milking the Beltway media with the time-honored “Third Way”/Democratic Leadership Coucil meme that this election proves that liberalism is a dead ender and that the Dems must throw liberals and progressives under the bus (even more than they already have) and adopt to the new “center”, which translates into moving even further to the Right than ever while supposedly “isolating” the GOP to their Teabagger anchor.
Obviously, progrsives and liberals within the Democratic Party think otherwise…but with no power whatsoever to enact any means of resistance, and the cross of ridicule from the Dem establishment, it would be very difficult for them to overcome their disadvantages in the face of the Village Media consensus….not to mention the overwhelming power of the right-wing propaganda machine.
And then, there is the new factor of unaccountable campaign spending by the wealthy, librated thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision throwing out campaign spending limits and allowing corporations and wealthy individuals a virtual free reign to buy themselves elections. Since wealthy folk tend to be way more conservative and even right-wing, you can probably figure for yourself the outcome.
Of course, having lots of cash doesn’t insure victory….ask Carly Fiona or Meg Whitman. But, when strategically used in “swing districts” where the Tea Party and the GOP Right (redundacy intended) are already locally strong and organized, the streams of cash spent on attack ads can be a difference maker.
Such is the climate we are now in. The issue is now: How should the Left respond??
I have my own opinions, of course.
Those who say that we should stay in the party and simply use “netroot” and local power to support “more and better Democrats”, in my view, are jsut shuffling chairs on the Titanic. The “netroots” have been found to have simply no power or even so much a pinprick of an impact on Democratic strategy or policy…in fact, most of the netroots’ favorites went down in flames when faced with the organized power of the Teabaggers and the dismissiveness and abandonment of the Democrats.
And considering the emerging consensus brewing among establishment Democrats and implicitly endorsed by Obama himself, the progressives will simply face an even more frosty reception, if not total abandonment and extention. The main goal of today’s Democrats are to remodel themselves to the center-right and pick off “moderate” conservative Republicans and White middle-class “Reagan Democrats” as their new base, and liberals and progressives are simply cannon fodder. “Don’t fear the Left, for they have no place to go…and if they protest, let ‘em have President Palin” is the prevailing view of most elite Dems, and they are most protected by privilege and financial contributions from any accountability.
Meanwhile…the establishment Republicans will continue to mine the Tea Party/”Old” New Right themes and myopias — also fueled with a fresh plowing of anti-Black racism, homophobia, antifeminism, xenophobia, and White nationalism — as a crutch to mask their main campaign of rampant unregulation and removing any fetters or constraints on capital accumulation and exploitation of resources and people. The “free market”, “personal responsibility”, and “less government” themes are simply ruses to cover the ultimate assault on the very notion of using the power of the federal government to attack economic and social inequality; and insted usher in the authoritarian state that uses religion, advertising, and state control to freeze out dissenters. Of course, the hard Right is also fond of using private militias and lone wolf assassins to target those they feel threaten their “way of life”, too….but as or right now, even mainstream right-wingers do go that far. At least…not yet.
So…we have one conservative happy face party masquarading as “liberal” (the Democrats), and one absolutely fascist, kooky-eyed, mostly White nationalist party masquarading as “conservative” (the Repiblicans). And, then there is the splintered Tea Party, who could potentially act as a spoiler role in both parties…indeed, there have been threats of Teabaggers going to an independent party if the Republicans don’t cater fully to their demands, Some may even attempt to outflank the GOP as Democrats, especially in the South and rural Midwest.
There is a huge vaccum thus emerging on the Left, and one that traditional Democratic liberalsm simply isn’t capable of exploiting because they are so sold all in on the Democrats and Obama.
Now, there are the PUMA’s who say that only Hillary Clinton can save the day for the Democrats, and that the fault lies totally with Obama who, they say, bamboozled and grifted his way to the 2008 nomination to begin with. Problem with that illogic is, that assumes that Hillary is a true progressive, not the corporatist, DLC clone copy of her husband who was willing to play several race cards against Obama herself, while playing a “populist” in the process. And, it’s far more likely that Hillary will be recruited by Obama and the Democrats to rescue him from his debacles via a Obama-Clinton ticket in 2012, once they get Joe Biden out of the way, that is. Then again, many of those PUMA’s most willing to promote Hillary are generally the same ones who also say that Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle are just “conservative feminists” who are victims of rampant “male liberal” sexism.
My sentiments, though, are much more with the more institutional critiques of Obama and the Democrats as merely one wing of the corporate system, and the belief that the Democrats are basically sold out as a tool of progressive change. My belief is the same I haave held for the past 25 years since I first abandoned the Democratic Party: that only an independent, popularly rooted, populist/democratic Left dedicated to challenging the roots of institutional as well as physical injustice and inequality will be capable of confronting both the Teabagger Right AND the Democraiic “Center”.
What kind of a program would that be, and how does it compare to other Left proposals theough the recent times?? That’ll have to wait until a future post. Stay close….