Thursday, November 4, 2010

Adios, Democrats

It is hard to watch the elections and be happy with the results, with the exception of the Blue Dogs getting wiped out.  Russ Feingold, the only real progressive Senator left, lost.  My fellow weed connoisseurs in Cali lost on Prop. 19 (with the eleventh hour liberal deserters hiding behind the proposition's supposed confusing language to excuse cowering to Attorney General Eric Holder's threat to prosecute growers/users, regardless of the referendum's outcome).  Even Alan Grayson, one of the few Democrats in Congress who seemed to have a spine (next to Feingold), was roundly defeated.

On the other hand, we lost some useless Democrats on Tuesday, whose defeat, even at the hands of the Republicans, was richly deserved.  Gone is Gene Taylor, the most right-wing Democratic member of Congress, a man who downplayed the BP oil spill by comparing it to chocolate milk.

Unfortunately, a few DINOs won election, including the current Governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin, who ran almost to the right of his opponent, on health care, the environment, abortion, etc.  Say what you will about the tea partiers' racism, hatred of Mexicans, and government in general (except when they are using its services),  they understand one thing, arguably the most important value of all when you constrict yourself to one of the two political parties--they know how to hold their preferred party accountable.

The sad truth is most liberals and progressives do not know  how to do this.  Either because we are weak and scared into voting Democratic after the 2000 elections, or because we allow a bunch of conservative DLC/Blue Dog hacks to run our party into the ground (and who expend their only criticisms on the left [much like their right-wing left friends at Counterpunch]).  Deep down, I think the real problem is there is not enough of us to begin with, even in the Democratic Party.

If one believes the Gallup company, conservatives, while not a majority of the electorate, are still more predominant (by a ratio of 2 to 1) than liberals.

The biggest problem for liberals, however, is the fact we are not even the largest voting bloc from within the Democratic Party.

Of course, what constitutes a moderate in today's electorate is very different from 20-30 years ago.  By today's standards, Ronald Reagan was a moderate (maybe even a liberal), and Richard Nixon (the man who came up with the idea of employer mandated healthcare) a Marxist on par with Mao Zedong.  It may be we have been a liberal party or a more liberal one than the polls realize.  It is just the poles have shifted so far to the right that it has made moderates seem more liberal.  If that is the case then we are not in such peril after all.  Our main task is to motivate people in our base and get them to vote, assuming that is possible when their own party constantly undercuts and insults them at every turn.

So, what do we do?  Do we continue to support a party that basically will not represent our values?  Do we go and support a third party, which will represent our values, but will at the end of the day never get elected to anything?

This problem goes much deeper than an election or a party.  We have always been the underdog in the battle for ideas (and this goes back to our revolution when British critics of our cause could look at us with scorn about our supposed belief in liberty while allowing slavery).  And this should not be very surprising.  We do not own most of the media, as much as the right would have everyone believe.  Our media is owned by corporations, who are unpaid agents of our government, and most of those companies are either going to be conservative (like Fox, realclearpolitics, Rasmussen, Associated Press, et al.) or they will be politically neutral "professionals" who do not want to seem partisan (for fear of being baited as liberal).

And as much as progressives hate to face this, particularly for those from the right-wing left*, who spend all of their time blaming the left for society's ills and wanting to marry the very people who think they should be thrown into the fiery cauldrons (alongside Mexicans, people without health insurance, and just about anyone else outside of their white male demographic), our system is rigged against us in one big way.  Our constitution supports a majoritarian, winner-take-all two party duopoly with unregulated corporate sponsorship of those campaigns.  We do not have proportional representation, like in most democracies, so if you support a third party, you are essentially declaring that you intend to lose.  

So, is it worth it?  Do we support a party that refuses to support us, try to replace it, or cave to the demands of the primitivists and drop out?  I ask it not just as a rhetorical question, but also as a question that I have been continually inquiring over as a voter since the age of 18.

*=note, these are the same libertarian lemmings-masquerading-as-uncompromising-radicals who whine about the "Twitter left" in the liberal blogosphere that takes away traffic from their site (not infrequently emblazoned with some appeal for your money, like some cheap preacher on the Trinity Broadcasting Network), all while having their own Facebook page!  Such is their dedication to hard hitting commentary, like that of a xenophobic ex-Reagan Administration official who helped give the world supply side economics.

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