I Blame Progressives for the 2010 Election

So, I woke up early this morning, and I decided to check out a few of the “progressive” blogs, to see if many of them learned anything after our absolute drubbing in the election yesterday.

Nope. Learned nothing. So-Called “progressive” bloggers have learned absolutely dick from yesterday.

One of them featured a rant about “Blue Dog” Democrats, and how they lost their elections because they were Blue Dogs, and suggesting that, if they were MORE “progressive,” they would have had a better chance. CLUELESS. "Blue Dogs" lost because they live in incredibly conservative, majority Republican districts, and the "progressive" elite dogged them the whole election.

Another featured a couple of rants; one entitled “Fuck ‘em,” suggesting that we still need to do the same things we’ve been doing, and another whining about Citizens United. CLUELESS. Look, no one hates the Citizens United case more than I do. But here's the deal; we have to learn to live with it until the law is changed. And it's NOT the reason we lost yesterday. 

Another predicted absolute “gridlock” in Congress as a result of the election. CLUELESS. We have a political GENIUS in the White House. We didn't have gridlock in the 1990s. In fact, it may be just the opposite, as Republicans will have no choice but to put up or shut up. Either way, we have two years of it, so we'd better learn to figure out how to get around it. 

The big dog in the “progressive” blogosphere claimed that Democrats lost because they underestimated the economic devastation, and they lost because the economy is in the shitter. CLUELESS. The economy may have been the biggest reason for voting cited by voters, genius. But this election was lost because of the NON-VOTERS, not the voters. The negativity from the left caused a lot of people to stay away from the polls. 

Folks, when is the progressive movement going to get a clue, and realize that we hold our own fate in our hands, and stop looking for others to blame? We fucked ourselves – once again – and WE are the reason we’re now facing a gridlocked Congress controlled by a Speaker Boner (sp?), and an agenda that will be far less formidable for the next two years.

I want you to consider a couple of things.

As this election season winds up with Republicans back in charge of the House of Representatives, we are also looking at same-sex marriage rolling toward becoming the law of the land, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell becoming a relic of history, and marijuana finally on its way to becoming legal. The teabaggers have been roundly smacked down by an electorate that looks at them like the laughingstocks they are. And while a small, very loud group of assholes are whining about health insurance reform, no one is seriously talking about repealing it. We have the beginnings of a national health care system. And while we are talking about more drilling off-shore, the fact of the matter is, alternative energy is now a fact of life, and is being developed at a faster rate than at any time in the last 40 years.

In other words, the country is moving to the left. We are at the beginning of what will be a very long reform movement, that could lead to the creation of a very progressive society. So, ask yourself why we lost this election. It's because the biggest stumbling block is progressives themselves.

Our side SUCKS at politics. 

This blog has always been different. This is a no whining zone. And “progressives” would do well to learn from this example. If you’re whining about “Blue Dogs,” then you simply don’t understand politics; it’s really that simple. If you don’t understand that Alan Grayson lost his election because he was too “in your face” with his (admittedly admirable) political views, then you don’t understand politics and how it works. He was far more valuable IN the Congress than he will be OUT of Congress, which means we progressives should have been telling him to sit down and shut up, because the more he talked, the more he cinched his own defeat in 2010. 

If you’ve been complaining about the “spineless Democrats” for two years, then YOU should look in the goddamn mirror when asking yourself why Democrats lost in yesterday’s election. And if you think Democrats lost because they didn’t stand for something, then you should be on life support, because you’re brain isn’t functioning. And if you have ever used the words “caved in” to describe a politician or anyone else who compromises on anything, then you’re an idiot, who doesn’t know the first thing about how politics actually works.

Here are a few political facts that all progressives should know, though many progressives do not.

1. Some districts in this country lean way to the right. We’ve had 30 years of neocon politics, and 30 years in which progressives/liberals have been largely ineffective, politically speaking. Sometimes, a Democrat wins the election anyway. If he or she wants to win re-election, he must reflect the politics of his or her constituents. Labeling them “Blue Dogs” and writing them off hurts everyone, because we need the numbers. In order for progressive Congresspersons and Senators to have power, they have to be part of the majority. It’s unrealistic to expect politicians in right-leaning districts to be flaming liberals if you expect them to win reelection. And we should want them to be reelected, at least until we can change the hearts and minds of the people in their districts.

2. "Politics is the art of compromise" is more than a pithy saying. No one EVER gets everything they want when it comes to politics, and to be disappointed because you “only” get 90% of what you thought the government should do is just nuts. No government program or policy ever started out as good as it became later; even the Civil Rights Act took a lot of tweaking, and we’re still tweaking Social Security and Medicare. Compromising with the opposition is not "caving in to special interests." 

3. Politics for most people is the art of the possible. The biggest line of bullshit I hear – mostly from progressives – is “negative campaigning works.” Look again, folks. Negative campaigning only works in the absence of any other message. In other words, it only works in a political vacuum. Which points to our problem. Progressives are so goddamn negative about everything, no one listens to us. Check out what many progressives say; “(fill in the Republican name here) sucks/is a Nazi/is a fascist/is a misogynistic dickhead/is a homophobe,” or (name issue here) is going to lead to world destruction and cause millions of people to die.” Gee, I wonder why people don’t like us? (And let’s be clear, folks; if people liked progressives, right wingers would be lucky to get 30% of the vote.) When we’re negative about everything, as we were this year, we make ourselves look just like the right wingers, which is very unappealing to the average voter. A major strategy of the Republican Party is to piss people off enough to stay away from the polls. When we’re overly negative, we help them do that. Once more; we didn't lose this election because VOTERS voted on the ECONOMY. We lost this election because the people who voted for hope and change in 2008 did NOT vote in 2010. And they didn't vote because they saw little to vote FOR. 

4. The political climate determines what policies and programs we can and cannot propose and pass. It’s simply idealistic bullshit to say something as absolutely clueless as “the Democrats should have started with single payer health care, then they would have settled for “a public option.” If no more than a dozen Congresspersons are willing to sign onto a bill for a single payer health plan, it will die; the compromise happens BEFORE a bill is drawn up and BEFORE it is put into the hopper. And if you have a block of 40 votes in the Senate willing to block everything, then under current rules, you have to come up with something they won’t block. If we want progressive programs, we have to sell the premises of them to the American voter. 

I don't usually elevate my opinions to the level of fact, but in this case, I will do that. The above are fact, proven by every action that has been taken throughout our history. Go ahead and try to refute them. I currently live in the second-most conservative district in Maryland; it was gerrymandered (I admit it) to be one of two Republican districts in a relatively liberal state. Frank Kratovil won my district in 2008, in the positive wave that swept President Obama into office. But this district is mostly Republican and Independent, and he only won in 2008 by a few hundred votes. Therefore, even as an incumbent, the odds were against his reelection. Yet, the progressive blogosphere took him to task specifically because of his “Blue Dog” status, and progressives must have stayed away from the polls, because he had his ass handed to him by the same guy he beat in 2008. 

When are we going to get this? If we want to become a progressive nation – and we have to want that, because the alternative is not good – then we have to do several things, and do so thoroughly.

We have to change the nation’s mindset, and that includes those who live in “Red States” and red counties, and bring our country back to its founding ideals.

We have to embrace the concept of democracy, and understand that making our views more popular isn’t a matter of “selling out.” “Becoming mainstream” is how you win elections, and winning elections is how you effect policy.

We have to become more positive and less negative. This is probably the key to creating an actual progressive movement. People are not motivated by negativity; in fact, negativity has the opposite effect. Think about it; which of the following statements is more motivating?

“If you keep driving, the planet will continue to warm, and the climate will become unlivable and we’ll all die!” or

“Driving an electric car will mean you don’t need to burn gas, will mean less noise, vehicle maintenance and no more oil stains on your driveway!”

If you said the first one was more motivating, check yourself into a clinic now. 

Most people have enough shit to deal with in their everyday lives; they want their politics to be hopeful. The far right is the exception. Those idiots love the negative, and they want Ann Coulter and Caribou Barbie to smack the shit out of them before bedtime. But moderate, middle-of-the-road voters (most of the population) want to vote FOR something. 

The difference between 2008 and 2010 was stark. During the 2008 election, progressives were positive, motivated and the message was one of hope for the future, and we swept the good guys into office. For some reason, almost as soon as President Obama took office, the expectations of “progressives” became unreasonable, the mood turned negative, and we lost in 2010.

That’s not coincidence, folks. It should be a lesson. But I wonder if it will be…

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  1. It’s absolutely true, Rick. Doesn’t matter what you may “think.” It happens every time we show some gains. I predicted this in 2008. Look at who you blame:
    “Independents… mostly changed teams.” Okay, fine. Why do you think that happened? That happened because you had the right blathering on about how shitty Obama was, and you had the left reiterating it.
    “The Right continually saturated the airwaves with their nonsensical messages.” The right doesn’t “saturate the airwaves” with anything. It’s all a myth. Do you know how many people listen to Rush Limbaugh? He boasts of 15 million listeners, but that number is achieved by combining all five days in a week. The actual number of people who listen is probably closer to 5-6 million. Fox News has roughly one-fifth the audience of NPR, and the nightly network news programs destroy Fox News in audience size. And if what you say is true, then explain Obama. The right was smacking the shit out of him for two solid years. He won because the message they were sending was drowned out by positive messages from the left. In other words, when we push a positive message, we win. When we wring our hands and agree with the right at how shitty Democrats are, we lose. How in the hell could we drown out the right in 2008, and be unable to do so in 2010? And don’t give me the Citizens United case, either; companies poured shitloads of money into races for numbnuts, and almost all of them lost. The only actual teabagger to win yesterday was Rand Paul. (Marco Rubio has been around too long to be a teabagger; he just hung onto them for extra support.
    Now, let’s talk about this imaginary “leadership” you imagine is missing.
    What is leadership to you, and why is it so important? I’ll give you a hint; leaders are multiples. There isn’t just one of them. Leadership needs support, and progressives gave up on Obama within six months. It was appalling. Obama and Harry Reid have been given ZERO credit for the things they have pushed through, despite the largest legislative block in history. THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY FIVE BILLS — all passed by a Democratic House, and blocked by one Senator, supported by a bloc of 41 Republican Senators, and what happens? Progressives whine and cry for two years about the lack of “leadership” in the Senate. Where was the progressive blogosphere? I’ll tell you where they were — they were pillorying Harry Reid. WTF was he supposed to do?
    It’s not politicians’ job to inspire us. It’s OUR job to SUPPORT them. This is why progressives are always sitting on the sidelines, while the right wing gets to run the government and drive us further down the rathole. We have to understand the system before we can work with it and change it, and progressives just don’t understand it. Your concern for “leadership” makes that crystal clear. Stop looking around for someone else to come along and inspire you, for Chrissakes! WE THE PEOPLE are the leaders. Got it? We live in a democracy; if you want something done, you have to convince half plus one of the voters to go along with you in order to get it done.
    This is not a new problem. Progressives have been screwing things up for more than 40 years now. It’s time those of us with a head on our shoulders started calling them on it.
    And that’s just what I’m going to do.

  2. “The negativity from the left caused a lot of people to stay away from the polls. ”
    I don’t think this is true. However, independents which went for Obama and the Dems in 2010 mostly changed teams. This was a failure of leadership: the Right continually saturated the airwaves with their nonsensical messages, and denounced the actual accomplishments of the left … The dems completely ceded the talking points to the right and didn’t stand up for themselves or their msg. So I do agree: “Our side completely sucks at politics” — but that also encompasses leadership — because if you can’t motivate people to jump on your band-wagon — to get behind your cause — you will be ineffectual (which is what we are likely to see for the next 2-6 years now).
    Come on: how can Dems look “bad” so closely on the heels of the disaster that was republican/bush leadership? It takes a concerted effort to look bad given that legacy.

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