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    The Actual Factuals About the Democratic Loss


    The Actual Factuals About the Democratic Loss

    In President Obama's own words, the Democratic party received a shellacking in the midterm elections, but what's amazing is that he still doesn't seem to understand the reason why. He seems to have bought into the Washington punditry that the Democrats lost because unemployment was at 9%, and historically the party in power loses seats in congress during the midterms. Those things might have contributed to the loss, but he's completely missing the real reason why so many Democrats were voted out of office.

    The actual reason that Democrats were turned out of office was because they deviated from the reasons they were voted into office in the first place. The voters made it clear in the two previous elections that they were fed up with the Republicans, and they believed Obama's pledge that the Democrats were going to bring in an era of "change that we could believe in." They were excited by that pledge. But once the Democrats were given the presidency and the largest majority in congress in a generation, they immediately turned into Republicrats. Their turncoat behavior angered independents because they felt lied to. It also made the Democrats look weak and unfocused to the people who were on the fence, and it absolutely disgusted the Democratic base.

    President Obama took too many of his campaign advisors into the White House with him. These people are not about governing. They're constantly in campaign mode, so instead of advising the president to simply adhere to the promises that got him elected, they're continually triangulating to position themselves for the next election.

    A lot of us were disgusted by that because it made us feel manipulated - after all, progressives are progressive because we're not dumb, so it's insulting to us when we feel like we're being "handled." So when the campaign finally began in earnest, and the Democrats came around with those very same rousing speeches that we bought into the first time we were bamboozled, they were counterproductive, because they only served to remind us of how disgusted we were over being lied to in the 2008 election.

    But obviously the administration is so mired in the fallacy of beltway wisdom that all they can see is from one campaign to the next. So let me put this in campaign terms and maybe they'll get the point. How successful do you think you would have been if in the 2008 election you would have gone out and made the following stump speech?

    "If elected, I promise to circumvent the rule of law by instructing my attorney general to let Bush and Cheney off the hook for their war crimes so we won't upset the Republicans and energize their base. I also promise to allow the Republicans to water down all legislation, even though we understand that they're not going to vote for it in the end. And finally, I promise to never counter Republican lies in order to relate the truth to the American people."

    Maybe I'm politically naive, but I don't think Obama would have gotten very far with that message, but that's exactly what he did in his first two years, so I can't see for the life of me see why the administration is so shocked that their base didn't turn out to defend the Democratic Party.

    On the other hand, if the president had walked through the door and kept his mouth shut - as he should have, since the attorney general is suppose to be independent - freeing Attorney General Holder to investigate and then charge Bush and Cheney for lying to congress to take the nation into war; illegally attacking the sovereign state of Iraq; the conflict of interest, misuse of funds and corruption; the torture, killing, and displacement of a million people, among other war crimes, the Republicans would have been so busy trying to cover their butts that they wouldn't have had the time to cause so much trouble.

    Yes, it would have ignited the Republican base, but it would have also energized the Democratic base, in addition to most young people, who tend to believe in Justice. It would have also done more to protect this nation from terrorism than all the bombs in our arsenal, because it would have sent a message to both the Muslim people, and the world, that the American people stand for justice.

    Now that would have been a change that we could believe in, and the American people would have rallied around the administration, if for no other reason than having the courage and integrity to put the rule of law before political considerations.

    But it seems that this administration still hasn't gotten the point. The new congress isn't even sitting yet and they're already sending out signals that they're ready to compromise on adding four trillion dollars to the national debt to give billionaires a tax cut.

    If President Obama caves in again, he's done. He's playing right into Republican hands, because, you see, the Republicans have made it clearly obvious that they're not really interested in the issues. Their main objective is to make Obama look weak, because they understand what's most important to the American people - a strong leader.

    So if Obama continues to cave in, he's going to end up the most brilliant, charismatic, and beloved president ever to be voted out of office after his first term. Because the bottom line is, the American people want John Wayne, not Mr. Rogers.

    Eric L. Wattree
    [email protected]
    Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does. 


    Ted Rall summed it up quite nicely, I think.

    Moreover, the world changed between September and November of 2008. Global capitalism collapsed. Millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes during the next year. Wall Street, bankers, big business, the golden boys of the previous century, were discredited--but unpunished for their countless sins. By mid-2009 America had become a left-wing country, not in the media but among the citizenry, telling polls that their preferred economic system was socialism.

    Team Obama didn't understand that. They still don't.

    The inarticulate rage of the inchoate Tea Party caught the president by surprise. Neither Obama nor the political clones that form his center-right cabinet can see that in a binary political culture anger gravitates to the opposite pole. If Obama were Republican, the Tea Party would be identified with the left.

    The takeaway is anger, not ideology. People are pissed. They hate the bailouts, but the bailouts aren't the main point. More than anything else, the American people are angry that their government doesn't even pretend to give a damn about them.

    As Edith Ann would say  "And that's the truth."

    When you say, "the American people would have rallied around the administration", are you including Republicans in that statement, Eric?


    The Republican Party is made up of three factions - the fiscal conservatives, or big business; the social conservatives, or, the bigots; and the true conservatives, who are sincere about ther conservative values.  The first two factions would oppose Obma if he walked the water, but the latter group would rally around the president if they thought he was acting the best interest of the country.

    I don't know. Most of the Republicans I know personally are a) close family members and b) what I guess you'd consider true conservatives, and yet I can't see any of them rallying around Obama had he given Holder the nod to form an investigation into war crimes committed by Bush and Cheney. My mother, for one, loved Ford mostly for his pardoning of Nixon, feeling that the country would have been torn apart by impeachment trials. She was no fan of Clinton's own impeachment trials either, if that helps. I'm not arguing that Obama was right -- I am arguing about the fact you feel "Americans" would have rallied around Obama for seeking to try the former President and VP. I'd say that roughly only one half of the country would have rallied around him -- myself included.

    My favorite quote from the whole article was "after all, progressives are progressives because we're not dumb."  Yeah, nothing spells "intelligence" like follow-Obama-over-the-cliff lefties flapping their fins together like trained seals at "no preexisting condition discrimination, keep your doctor, improved quality of care, and we won't have to raise taxes to get it!!  Have a fish, friends!"


    I thought long and hard about that particular generalization, because generally, it is my position that there's only one valid generalization - that it's stupid to generalize.  But I decided that in this case it was valid to assume they are brighter than people who would vote against the right to provide affordble healthcare to their own families to protect the very same industry that ripped them off during the financial crisis of 2008, and voting for people who claim to be concerned about the national debt, yet are insisting on adding 4 trillion dollars to it to provide tax cut's to billionaires?  The Reublicans also voted for people who want to destroy socal security, unemployment insurance, medicare, and all of the other safety nets that help to secure the well being of the poor and middle class.  So yes, I think I'm safe in calling them less than billiant. 

    You're not even close to being safe.  In fact, your generalization is so obviously nonsensical that it undermines your credibility with any reader who's not a self identified progressive.  You can't point to recent policy disputes to defend your position (or to undermine it) because being a progressive means subscribing to ideological/philosophical principles which are (in addition to being poorly defined) rejected by a great many very intelligent people.   

    You're confusing progressive with liberal.  A true progressive places the search for truth before ideology.  I, for example, believe in following truth wherever it leads, regardless to whose ox it gores.  Efficient thought requires that we first, see life as it is, and only then, as we would have it.  That's a very important rule of thumb to remember, because you can't correct a problem that you refuse to acknowledge.  And I'd rather be more knowledgeable than correct any day.

    It's not my nature to be content to wallow in the comfort of stupidity. So I'm prepared to discard any of my beliefs that don't stand up to logical scrutiny - and with pleasure.

    What a load of horse puckey!

    "A true progressive places the search for truth before ideology."

    Are all true progressives also true Scotsmen?

    There's no more relationship between the respect for truth and being a progressive than with being a conservative or a libertarian or a social democrat or... [fill in the blank]. 

    I think that you're failing to recognize that there's no difference between being a liberal and a progressive.  Who uses the term and how?  Two quick examples: CAP is lauded as a leading think tank advocating progressive policy solutions & Arianna H. (a self-described progressive) says that HuffPo is a leading light in the "progressive blogosphere."

    It's entirely possible that I'm wrong about this- So, if there's a meaningful difference, then you should be able to point to some policy which progressives support, but which liberals oppose.     

    Until then, I'm going to maintain...

    Same wine, different bottle.  

    The Conservative Corruption of Progressive Thought

    As one who has always tried, with varying success, to be progressive in my thinking, I'd like to make a few personal observations on the contemporary progressive movement. I want to preface my remarks, however, with the assurance that I have long since recognized that I corner the market on neither knowledge, wisdom, nor intellect, but I'd like to share my thoughts nevertheless - not as a condescending edict handed down by a self-appointed pundit, but in the hope that the thoughts of an average man,with common facility are worthy of public discussion.

    It is my firm belief that the appropriate attitude for a progressive to bring to every discussion is a firmness of thought and an open mind to divergent ideas. A progressive, by definition, should have the intellectual capacity to recognize that one can neither scream, nor insult, one's way to a solution to any problem. And what should always set a progressive apart from all others is an affinity for humanity, independence of thought, and a fierce determination to remain a seeker of truth above all else, regardless to where that truth may lead.

    But those values no longer seem to be the case among many who define themselves as progressives today. Many contemporary 'progressives' tend to possess the very same rigidity of thought, and meanspirited, knee-jerk adherence to ideology that the progressive movement was created to combat. The response that many of these people bring to even the slightest divergence from their rigid ideological beliefs can only be described as one of radical reactionism.

    That concerns me greatly, because while conservatives and today's so-called progressives remain completely divergent in their views toward governance, in terms of intellectual disposition they've become different sides of the same coin. I've often heard it stated that the regimented intolerance of reactionary conservatism is reminiscent of Nazi Germany. That may, or may not be true. But if it is, it must also be acknowledged that the intolerant regimentation of many contemporary radical 'progressives' represent the USSR, at best.

    Many modern progressives have allowed themselves to become infected with the exact same kind of intellectual rigidity that we previously associated with the radical conservative mindset. In fact, many who define themselves as progress today could very accurately be called latter-day conservatives. They have a slightly updated set of values, but their rigidity and rabid defense of those values will surely morph into the closed-minded conservatism of tomorrow.

    That's the primary reason that the conservatives' reckless campaign of rampant disinformation is winning the battle over reasoned and logical thought. So many contemporary progressives have taken on the conservative mindset of anger before contemplation, and reaction over reason, that there's no one left who's actually thinking. Everyone is simply reacting through anger, ignorance, and disinformation. That's an environment in which the Republican Party thrives, since as any thinking person would know, radical conservatism is reactionary by definition.

    Progressives cannot out-scream the Republican Party, and we shouldn't try. The disinformation that's currently being disseminated by the GOP must be met with facts, a well thought-out plan of action, integrity, and character.

    The American people are not stupid. They desperately want these qualities in their governance, but the current progressive movement is not giving them a viable alternative. Regardless to what our intent, we're acting with just as much thoughtless anger and reckless abandon as the Republican Party.

    The problem is, we have not coalesced into a solid front with a clear and viable agenda. We've divided ourselves into so many factions with so many different agendas that the people no longer know what we represent. And the reason for that is that too many of us really don't know what it means to be progressives ourselves.

    Too many of us fail to understand that the primary goal of the progressive movement is to create a viable democracy that serve, respect, and honor ALL of the people. But due to the destruction of our educational system, the corrupting influence of Republican governance over the past twenty years, and an irresponsible media, our ideals and what we represent as a people is only a rumor up for debate for an entire generation of Americans.

    But what's worse, and the subject of this contemplation, is the above is also true of young people of the left who consider themselves progressives. The fact is, while they know that their political orientation is liberal, what they don't know is there's a vast difference between being simply liberal, and being a progressive. As a result, many of these young people approach our democracy like it's a sporting event - our team against their team. Period.

    What they fail to realize is that the progressive movement is much more than just a synonym for left-wing liberalism. Progressives have also served as America's philosophers, intellectuals, and conscience. Thus, true progressives don't see conservatives as the enemy. They understand that both liberals, and conservatives, play an important role in our society. They recognize that both are necessary in order to maintain a balanced America. And they clearly understand that while there's a burning need for a Martin Luther King to remind America of its humanity, there is also a need for a Gen. MacArthur to ensure our security.

    Thus, the progressive movement is not so much a political ideology as it is a philosophical attitude towards human behavior. A true progressive, as oppose to an ideologue of any stripe, will always give truth, logical thought, and the interest of humanity priority over ideology. And regardless to how much he or she may admire any politician, he will always hold that politician accountable for truth, justice, and his fidelity to mankind.

    I can cite an example of that in my personal life. I'm a huge supporter of President Obama, because I agree with more of his positions on public policy than I do with the Republicans. But I have both friends, and family, who go absolutely crazy on those occasions when I write a column critical of him when I disagree with something that he does, or something that he fails to do. They take the position that I'm only serving to help the Republican Party drag him down.

    I take the position, as both a journalist, and a progressive, that while I support Obama, it is not my job to censor information when in my opinion he's taken a position that's not in the best interest of the people (failing to follow the rule of law regarding the atrocities of war committed by the Bush Administration, for example). Neither is it my job to protect Obama's presidency. It is Obama's job to protect his presidency, by making the right decisions in office.

    Barack Obama is a politician, and a democracy can only remain viable by holding EVERY politician's feet to the fire. So it doesn't matter how I feel about him personally, as a journalist, and as a progressive, all I'm concerned with is what he does to, or for the people.

    In my opinion, that's what it means to be a progressive, and I find it extremely disheartening to watch the corruption of such an essential component of our political environment. What's even more disheartening, however, is the impact that it's loss is sure to have on American life. With the demise of a vigorous and thriving progressive movement America is becoming a place where power takes precedence over humanity, and that's a scenario that can only lead to our ultimate destruction.

    Eric L. Wattree


    Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

    Was the Lacoste (Izod) logo added?  It seems unlikely but not impossible that Mr. Rogers wore a preppy sweater to a photoshoot.

    I can't answer that, Dave.  It was a stock photo. 

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