Barack Obama, President Obama — March 11, 2011 at 10:09 am

Hitting the soft spot of “True Liberals”


I kinda felt bad for my wife last night. She was reading through the comments on the Daily Kos version of yesterday’s blog This whole “Teach Obama a Lesson” thing is working so perfectly, isn’t it? and was really upset at all the very nasty things people were saying about me. I really should have worn the Hazardous Conditions Flash Suit there on the right, graciously provided to me by a friend. My wife, more than anyone else on the planet, knows that I am one of the most progressive liberal people you are likely to meet. But she also knows I’m all about making actual progress. It’s no accident that “progress” is the root of “progressive”. Without making actual progress, you are static. Stuck. Irrelevant.

I got hammered not only the comments of that diary but it spawned two response diaries at Daily Kos, both of which landed on the Rec List. One of them called my essay a “disgusting diary based on a fantasy world”. He called it “a diary written right out of a person’s ass. Lies and strawmen.” My diary, he said, “denigrates President Obama” and is “bullshit”. And this screed:

My fuck you to the author of that blog is here…

Tell the flamers here to fuck off by giving money and volunteering.

Every time we do real work, it’s a fuck you to the flamers who see only Barack Obama and their ego attachment to a fantasy view of him.

In case I am not clear: Fuck You to all who attack Liberals with your lies and strawmen.

Pretty classy, eh? And that warranted a Recommend from none other than Meteor Blades, the Daily Kos community moderator/enforcer. Not only that, two other front-page writers from Daily Kos were inspired to go after me in my diary.

Let’s just say it appears I hit a soft spot.

One of the chief complaints was that I provided no proof to my assertion that liberals attacking the President and his administration had anything to do with Democrats getting trounced in the 2010 midterms. Pointing to data, they noted that liberals actually DID go to the polls.

Well, I won’t dispute that. Many of them did. But, as I pointed out, there were still prominent “liberal” mouthpieces who set out to depress the vote. That’s really not a matter of dispute. Sites like Firedoglake (Jane Hamsher) and Salon (Glenn Greenwald) spent enormous amounts of webspace castigating the Obama administration and Democrats in general. Prominent liberal pundit Ed Schultz publicly boasting that he wasn’t going to vote and it was a noble, even revolutionary, act. And, of course, endless diaries, day after day after day at Daily Kos, explaining in full detail how our President has failed us all so horribly.

In doing these things, they created a self-fulfilling prophecy of an “enthusiasm gap”.

But, I’ll grant that liberals, by and large, went to the polls and voted for Democrats. I can point you to plenty of data proving that, even in the liberal bastion of Ann Arbor, Michigan, many so-called Democrats actually voted for the Republican for governor, but I’ll concede the point: liberals, in general, voted.

But liberals aren’t why we lost the midterms. Independents and the youth vote are why we lost the midterms. The far-right tea partiers and the liberal Democrats were givens. They could be counted on to vote and, as everyone knows, the conservatives were some seriously motivated votin’ mofos, right?

But those independents and kids. They are another story. They are the main reason Barack Obama got elected in 2008 along with a whole lotta Democrats who otherwise might not have been considering the demographics of their districts. It was the swell of independent voters and young voters, and even some Republicans, crossing over to vote for the Good Guys that changed our country so profoundly in 2008.

Fast forward to 2010. The economy is staggering to its feet after the astounding series of head blows delivered by the Bush administration. The budget is a complete fiasco after six years of profligate spending by so-called fiscally conservative Republicans in Congress and the signature pen of the spend-happy Republican president. Things were on very shaky ground and a LOT of people were still out of work and struggling. Including independents.

So they look around.

On the right we have the Party of NO! portraying our President as a foreigner who wants to destroy the country. Supported by a media that gleefully acts like a boxing match promoter, everyone from the House Minority Tanner and the Senate Minority Turtle all the way down to the tea partying dishwasher at your local greasy spoon was shooting arrows into President Obama on a daily hourly basis.

So these independents look around so more.

On the left we have Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher and Ed Schultz and Cenk Uygur and even Keith Olbermann (just to name a very few), telling us why, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Obama administration is an abject failure and, along with him, all Democrats. Major social legislation passed, major reforms in nearly all areas enacted, and countless other progressive improvements were never enough. There was always something they could find to hang their “Obama and the Democrats are failures and bad for America” hat on.

So, these independents, many of whom are, let’s face it, fairly low-information voters, think to themselves, “Well, dang. NOBODY likes these guys. They must really suck! And my life sucks, too. I don’t have a job. I just lost my house.”

The students think to themselves, “I thought Obama would change everything. I can’t get a job. My parents lost their house. My school costs are going up.”

Both of these groups think to themselves, “We gotta change this situation so I’ma vote for the Republicans this time and see if that helps.”

That’s why an endless drumbeat of “Democrats suck” from the True Liberals is so damaging.

There’s one more piece, too. Remember back during the summer of 2008? Remember the Campaign for Change? Obama for America? People came out of the woodwork to help get Obama elected. I worked with countless numbers of people that were either getting involved in politics for the first time in their life or who were actually Republicans. And young people. An unbelievable number of young people.

During the midterms, most of these people were absent. The national Democratic Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort really struggled and not just because it was a midterm election. All those folks that were so charged up by the energy surrounding the Obama Campaign for Change were now facing the reality that politics is hard and change is harder. And what were they hearing from the liberal side of the road, the people that you would expect to be cheering for their President and his administration?

“Obama and the Democrats suck.”

In the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, the Democrats are up against Big Corporate Money in their elections now and a solid GOTV effort is the most effective answer to that. Great way to motivate people to work on the GOTV effort, guys. And these True Liberals really wonder why we point a finger at them and hold them partially responsible for our losses last November and the results we’re living with today?

That’s a soft spot for them and, yesterday, my rant hit it square. In their heart of hearts, most of them know you can’t run down people who should be your friends and allies for over a year straight and not have a negative impact on their electoral chances. But they will never admit this so they lash out. They call me a liar. They tell me I’m blogging out of my ass (ouch). Their attacks are viscious and offensive and personal. And they deny and deny and deny.

Well, ya know what? Methinks they doth protest too much.

Oh, and one more thing: do not make the mistake of believing that I think all Democrats are awesome. I don’t. The Blue Dog Democrats, in particular, can take a long walk off a short pier as far as I am concerned. We need to shed the party of people like Ben Nelson and all the rest that vote like Republicans most of the time. But the time to attack them is during the primaries. Doing so in the lead up to an election is the most self-defeating thing you can do in politics. And it’s something the Republicans almost never do.

I’m just sayin’…