Will Obama lose his base?

    Prevailing wisdom seems to be that Obama doesn’t need to garner the favor of his progressive base. Those of us on the left, it’s thought, will vote for the President regardless, as we know there aren’t viable alternatives that are any better. All he needs to worry about, according to those who study such things, is those independents who float back and forth between the two parties. If he wants a second term, all he has to do keep moving steadily right, up until the point that he senses that our wallets are getting ready to close, and then hold steady. (Clinton called the maneuver “triangulation.”) The only problem is, it would seem to me that he’s already overshot that point. By not fighting the Republicans on tax cuts for the super-wealthy, which he knows will, among other things, jeopardize the future of Social Security, he’s run a good mile past the point where a great many of us have drawn the line. If you didn’t catch it on Friday, Sam Graham-Felsen had an interesting piece on this in the Washington Post which is somewhat related. Here’s a clip:

    …I worked as Obama’s chief blogger during his presidential campaign, and my primary focus was telling the stories of these supporters, many of whom had never been engaged in politics or were reengaging after years of disillusionment. There was a common thread in my conversations with the hundreds of people who gave time, sweat and small donations – that amounted to $500 million – to Obama’s campaign.

    They were inspired by Obama’s promise to upend Washington by governing from the bottom up. “The change we need doesn’t come from Washington,” Obama told them. “It comes to Washington.”

    Yet at seemingly every turn, Obama has chosen to play an inside game. Instead of actively engaging supporters in major legislative battles, Obama has told them to sit tight as he makes compromises behind closed doors.

    During the battle over tax cuts, Obama’s grass-roots network, Organizing for America, was silent. An OFA spokesman said that the network would engage supporters when the time is “ripe.” But many people feel the time is ripe now – that tax cuts for millionaires in the midst of cuts in basic services and a spiraling deficit are unacceptable – and they don’t understand why Obama won’t let them fight…

    If the White House wants to keep its grass-roots supporters at bay during major legislative fights, that’s its choice. But there’s a larger problem looming.

    Obama needs this list in 2012 – and he needs its members to dig much deeper than in the last election. The Citizens United ruling has allowed campaigns to become an unprecedented corporate cash free-for-all – and Obama will likely need to raise far more than $500 million from the grass roots to be competitive.

    While Obama’s political team intensely focuses on independents, the grass-roots list seems like an afterthought. Every time Obama chooses to compromise behind closed doors, and keeps OFA quiet, he might win over a few independents. But he’s also conveying a message that the grass roots doesn’t really matter, that the bottom-up ethos of his candidacy doesn’t apply to his presidency….

    I think he’s absolutely right. While a lot of us will no doubt vote for Obama in 2012, I can’t see us investing the same amount of our money, or our time. Here, on that subject, is a comment that was left on the site a few days ago by Glen S.

    I first got involved with politics going door-to-door for Mondale/Ferraro in 1984, when I was still just a kid. Since then, I’ve spent countless hours — and countless dollars — supporting the Democratic Party and dozens of Democratic candidates, including Jesse Jackson, Michael Dukakis, Bill Bradley, Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Barack Obama, etc. I did so because I believed that, in general, the Democratic Party genuinely represented the interests of poor and working people, and the middle class — and was willing to fight for what was right, and what was fair.

    So, naturally, I was thrilled when Obama and the Democrats won the White House and big majorities in Congress in 2008, and very much looked forward to seeing them use the power of their mandate to enact real (and much-needed!) change.

    Instead, however, almost from day one — Obama and the Democrats have allowed Republicans, conservatives, tea-baggers, and Wall Street and corporate lobbyists to set the agenda, define the nature of the debate, and move the ever-elusive political “middle” further and further to the right…

    So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that we have now reached the point where President Obama has promoted, and a majority of Democrats in Congress have supported this disastrous “compromise” with Republicans — which will not only accelerate the massive upward transfer of wealth that has been going on in this country for decades, but also lays the groundwork for the eventual destruction of Social Security. For me, this turn of events represents not just another “vote,” not just another “compromise,” but rather, a dramatic turning point that makes mockery of “Democratic” values and the whole Democratic Party.

    Going forward, I will likely continue to vote for individual candidates (like Senator Carl Levin) who continue to exhibit some degree of integrity, and who are willing to continue to stand up for what is right — but I will certainly no longer actively support the Party, nor consider myself a “Democrat” — whatever that even means anymore.

    And, if I personally know a half dozen people like Glen, here, in the relatively small town of Ypsilanti, who don’t plan to support Obama at anywhere near the level that they did in 2008, I’ve got to think that there are millions across the country who feel the same way. And, I’d think that, at some point, it’s got to enter into Obama’s political calculus. The Republicans won’t be holding anything back in 2012, and Obama is going to need his base to be actively engaged, and financially contributing. Hopefully, for his sake, our memories are short.

    Maybe a few progressive wins, like the one this weekend on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, will ameliorate those of us on the left. Maybe we’ll believe him when he comes back, telling us that he’s changed. Maybe we’ll forgive him for not keeping his word on Guantánamo Bay, caving on the public option, and agreeing to tax breaks for the wealthy without so much as throwing a single punch. I hope, though, that I know better. I hope that, at the very least, I’m able to stay strong during the primaries, backing someone that, if nothing else, I knew wouldn’t betray his principles. I can live with compromise. I cannot, however, fight for a President who doesn’t want to fight for the working men and women of America.

    And, while we’re on the subject, I thought that you might enjoy this brilliant little video:

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      48 Comments

      1. Knox
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 7:03 am | Permalink

        In Obama’s defense, the ship of state is huge, and it moves incrementally. Unless, of course, you’re a Republican. In which case you just grab the wheel and spin it like you’re on the Price is Right. I’m tired of being on the cautious side.

      2. Posted December 20, 2010 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        Do you mean he hasn’t already lost his base? After all those failures you enumerated — many of which are failures not only of outcome but of effort — do you think he can, and more important, will, do enough to secure your support? The first primary elections are barely more than 13 months away.

      3. Jim
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        I understand your frustration because I share it, but do you think that anyone else could have accomplished more than Obama has?

        The main reason Obama has not accomplished more (and he has accomplished a lot) is Republican abuse of Senate rules. If we want to see more progress, we should be urging our Senators to reform the filibuster at the beginning of the new session.

      4. Glen S.
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        Yesterday, “Politico” published an article by Robert Kuttner, titled “Obama to Blink First on Social Security,” which claimed:

        “The tax deal negotiated by President Barack Obama and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is just the first part of a multistage drama that is likely to further divide and weaken Democrats.

        The second part, now being teed up by the White House and key Senate Democrats, is a scheme for the president to embrace much of the Bowles-Simpson plan — including cuts in Social Security. This is to be unveiled, according to well-placed sources, in the president’s State of the Union address.

        The idea is to pre-empt an even more draconian set of budget cuts likely to be proposed by the incoming House Budget Committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), as a condition of extending the debt ceiling. This is expected to hit in April.

        White House strategists believe this can also give Obama “credit” for getting serious about deficit reduction — now more urgent with the nearly $900 billion increase in the deficit via the tax cut deal.”

        http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=EB5E9565-C4A8-7E36-747EADB1F4AAB099

        At this point, this is still just a rumor — but one I certainly hope isn’t true.

      5. Edward
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        Jim, I hear what you’re saying, and, up until this recent tax “compromise” I was of a like mind. But then the proverbial straw broke the camel’s back. I find it infuriating that he doesn’t call the Republicans on their shit. I’d love to see some spark, but, unfortunately, the only time we get a glimpse of it is when he’s chiding his base. I would have loved for him to have spelled it out for the American people, and called the bluff of the Republicans. Word is they’re getting ready to capitulate on the 911 First Responders bill, due to the negative press, and the same damn thing would have happened with these tax breaks for the rich. You have to fight these people when it comes to what you believe in. In this case, he extended tax cuts that he knows we cannot afford, and, as Mark pointed out, threaten Social Security. He went along with bad policy, and kicked the problem down the road. When I voted for him, I voted for a mature leader who wouldn’t do that without first putting up a hell of a fight. Yes, he’s accomplished a lot. That’s no excuse, though.

      6. lorie thom
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        @Jim,

        Yes, I do think that that someone else could have accomplished that and much more. Someone with much more experience who could have supported their congressional reps in a way that would have allowed those reps to support the white house in way that would have resulted in:
        - actual health care reform instead of merely doing “forced insurance reform”
        - taxation reform that didn’t screw most of us
        - someone who would have actually responded the tea party’s baloney instead of just ceding that ground without response

        Yes, I think we could have had someone who would have kept the message going and not dropped the ball on communicating with her base not ended up in a position where she would have to thrown her base under the bus to satisfy corporate and wealthy interests to the detriment of the economy and what remains of our social security system.

        So while I wouldn’t change my presidential vote given McCain/Palin’s utter lack of reality, I am a hell of a lot more open to seeing what ideas get presented by anyone in the future.

      7. Edward
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Is there a progressive candidate that we could throw our support behind in the primary, who at least will bring these issues to the table so that they can be discussed at the national level? While I like Kucinich, I think he lacks the gravitas, and I think that, given he’s a known entity, it kind of detracts from the impact of the message. I’d like to see someone like Frankin run, just to stir things up a bit, but I don’t think he’d want to run against the President. Maybe Feingold could be talked into it.

      8. lorie thom
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        @Edward,
        Know too much about Kucinich – he’s a wacko. Does well for his peeps but really, I wouldn’t leave him in charge of my dog, never mind the national defense.

        Feingold would get my vote in a heartbeat. Frankin would be fun but again, not enough experience.

      9. Jim
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        I certainly agree that Obama has bungled the public fight for his stated goals. He should be making a much stronger case for progressive values in order to move public opinion forward. But I don’t think that by doing so he would have gotten better legislation passed than he did. And I don’t think that a President Clinton, Edwards, Nader, Kucinich, Feingold, Sanders, or Franken would have had any more success than Obama did.

        Whether the tax deal will prove to be an acceptable compromise or not will depend on what happens in two years. If Obama folds on extending tax cuts on income over $250K, then this tax deal will have been a terrible capitulation. But if Obama refuses to extend the cuts, as he has repeatedly promised, then this deal will have been a good one. The most important thing both politically and fiscally is getting the economy going again, and getting a large stimulus and relief package out of this lame duck session is a great accomplishment.

        If Obama proposes cuts to Social Security, that would be a disaster. If those rumors are true, I hope that WH officials are floating a trial balloon which Congressional progressives will shoot down in no uncertain terms.

        We do need to pressure Obama to do better, and I wouldn’t mind primary challenge talk if I thought that it would do any good. But again, the main problem legislatively over the past two years was not Obama, but the rules of the Senate which allowed a minority to obstruct many of the bills and nominations that the House and the President sent their way. We should be focused on filibuster reform.

      10. Toadsan
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        I cannot believe people still view the American political system in the warped bi-partisan way. Doesn’t anyone realize that the two-party system doesn’t work? After all of the Obama hype during the election we got a dose of hard reality within a few weeks of his presidency. He supports the global war machine and loss of liberty that comes with it just like all of the presidents before him. And yet you guys are still willing to play along with the game? Sad Sad Sad. Maybe it’s time to view politics in a constitutional way instead of the tyrannical GOP/Dem dictatorship that is ruining everything that made America great. Stop voting based on party alliances and start voting on issues of freedom.

      11. Meta
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        From the Washington Post:

        In the wake of President Obama’s tax-cut deal with Republicans, the White House is moving quickly to mend its strained relationship with the Democratic base, reassuring liberal groups, black leaders and labor union officials who opposed the tax compromise that Obama has not abandoned them. (cont.)

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/19/AR2010121903537.html?wpisrc=nl_headline

      12. lorie thom
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        @Jim,

        I disagree. I think Hilary would have done a masterful job and gotten much better results. I really do. Her experience in the executive and in the senate puts her far ahead of the silliness that Emamuel and crew tried time and time again. They burned up Obama’s cache in ways they didn’t need to and they didn’t work through public opinion and they gave in on points early and often when they shouldn’t have.

        So here is the picture I have: person who was tossed under a bus and run over. Obama now nealing down offering them a hand up – would you take it?

      13. Jim
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        @ Lorie: Perhaps Hillary would have done a better job. I doubt it but I have no way of knowing.

        I’m okay with Obama positioning himself as a centrist–and even with some under-bus-tossing/hippie-punching/Sister-Souljah-ing–if it helps him get things done. He was campaigning to be Prince of the Purple from the day he declared for President, so we can’t say we’re surprised.

        Obama has accomplished a lot, including universal health care and DADT repeal, reversing two of Bill Clinton’s biggest failures. Of course I want more, but given that we re-elected Bush/Cheney and seriously considered McCain/Palin, I’m fairly happy with Obama.

        What gets my blood boiling is the Senate.

      14. Kim
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        OK. speaking of the Senate, who are we going to get to replace Stabenow? No one had any good answers last week.

      15. Jim
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Did you notice that the Republicans kicked our butts in the November elections? Despite her shortcomings (most notably for me her vote for the Military Commissions Act of 2006), Stabenow is left of center for Michigan politics, and to try to primary her would be really self-destructive. Much more helpful would be to try to influence her.

        Stabenow was, for example, one of 53 Senators who voted to end the Bush tax cuts one income over $250K on Dec. 4. If the Senate operated by majority rule, then Obama’s tax deal would not have been possible.

      16. Bob
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        What on earth has Kucinich done to be labeled a wacko? Seriously.
        Money is going to be Obama’s downfall come election time. The gloves are now off as far as donations go. They’ve primed the pump for hatred and distrust of Obama and corporations can put up as much money as they desire to see him defeated. The only prayer he has of getting the progressives back on the donation team is if the nominee is Palin. She is the only thing that will motivate the left to support the president again.

      17. Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

        While I am no fan of extending these tax cuts (and I’ve written extensively about my position on them), I can’t help but feel a little astonished at the left’s overall reaction to Obama’s presidency. Here we have probably the most progressive president and the most productive congress in decades, but that doesn’t seem to be good enough. It seems to me that all those grass roots organizers during the campaign have stopped trying more than Obama. It seems like people thought their job was done on election night, and that magically all the progressive issues would just happen.

        I’m not sure what we expected him to do in this situation. If he didn’t broker this deal than unemployment benefits would end, not only causing more poverty, but it would also cause more unemployment because that money wouldn’t be going back into the economy any more, which would cause more job loss. The deal kinda sucks overall, and it doesn’t deal with the fundamental problem, but the alternatives are pretty bleak too.

        Maybe our expectations of Obama were too high, or maybe his expectations of us were too high. I think we could all do a better job of pressuring our officials to be more progressive, and I don’t think we should wait for the president to be doing our grassroots organizing for us. Maybe we can take matters into our own hands and start a group dedicated to getting out calls and letters on the issues we all care about. The internet makes this pretty easy to do.

      18. dp in ypsi
        Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

        nope… least worst arguments will most likely win the day; if all else fails the ghost of Ralph Nader will be envoked (best urban myth by establishment dems ever). there will be some sort of nonsense about how things will be so much worse under the other establishment candidate, when minus a few social issues, they will produce the same agenda and results.

        short of a billionaire independent running who will self-finance his/her own campaign, there is little hope of those who ID themselves as democrats voting for anybody but the party nominee, same goes for republicans. hopefully that individual will have some amazing level of benevolence and sense of true civic duty.

        that’s the beauty of our system for those in charge, the game is fixed to allow for about zero accountability; it has been, by design, since inception. at the end of the day, the people are in charge who are supposed to be in charge: the wealthy and influential have a lock on the republic the rest of us are simply numbers on a monthly P&L statement.

      19. Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        Joel, I was of your opinion up until this most recent “compromise” with the Republicans, which shifts the tax burden to lower income Americans and puts Social Security in danger… all while increasing the deficit, and setting up the Republicans to slash social programs. It’s bad policy, and he knows it. I can see why he’d want to do it, as not pursuing it could trigger a slide back into recession, but he’s got to know that it’s just a short term bandaid. And, in spite of what he says, he knows damned well that in two years, when it comes time to renew the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy again, there’s no way he’ll try to stop it – not during an election year. Part of me wants to give him another pass, but I just can’t. This was the place to stand and fight, and he chose not to.

      20. Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

        DP, speaking of billionaires, I think things are looking pretty good for Bloomburg in 2012.

      21. Posted December 21, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink

        Alot of the “no one else could have done better” sentiment relates to his dealings with Congress, and it’s possible that given the Democratic Congressional leadership, no other president could have gotten much more out of them.

        But legislation is not the only place Obama has failed the left; he’s also been disappointing on plenty of purely executive actions, such as Holder’s current attempt to prosecute Wikileaks (to give the most recent example).

      22. lorie thom
        Posted December 21, 2010 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSRWRbuMqyc

      23. lorie thom
        Posted December 21, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        @ Bob – the above link is an example of why many, including me, think he’s a bit too wacko for the presidency. I would link it to Shirley’s book but its not available on line. There are more examples – you can look ‘em up.

        Bottom line: Kucinich is not and never will be a viable candidate for the Presidency. Way too fringe on way too many issues.

      24. lorie thom
        Posted December 21, 2010 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        @Jim:

        right, lets see – well funded corporate supported message for years against what we the people really wanted and a President unwilling (or unable) to communicate in a way that kept his base even remotely happy.

        I wish that political wins and losses were really an indicator of voter opinion but its a campaign, people have to do more than vote. You have to have a committed base who will convert the undecided’s to your side. AND you have to support them. This is where Obama has failed and where corporate money and robber-baron wealth (Koch Brothers) really excelled.

        So we go kicked. I think that has more to do with CONTINUALLY using your base as an undervalued bargaining chip.

      25. Posted December 21, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        @Mark

        I hear ya. I just don’t know if it will do any good try a primary challenge. It may just make liberal voter turnout lower on 2012 when that primary challenger inevitably looses. And lower turnout is the opposite of what I want.

      26. Glen S.
        Posted December 21, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        @Joel

        I’m always surprised when I hear comments about how Obama is so progressive.

        Coming on the heels of the extreme conservatism of Bush, I agree the Obama Administration is, by comparison, “progressive.” However, I think this is primarily a testament to just how amazingly successful Republicans have been in pushing America’s political “Overton Window” to the right. For example, many Obama policy initiatives (including his plan for healthcare reform) might have been considered “mainstream” Republican positions only a decade ago — but now are labeled by many on the right as “radical” or even “Socialist.”

        Also, I take issue with your (and many others’) contention that some of us on the left think somehow that “their job was done on election night, and that magically all the progressive issues would just happen.” I NEVER expected Obama’s job would be easy, nor that fundamental change would be as substantial or rapid as I might like. What I did expect was that Obama — who had clearly proven himself to be a extraordinarily gifted orator and campaigner — would use those same skills, as President, to effectively lay out the case for fundamental economic and political reform, and to motivate and inspire Americans (and Congress) to join him in those efforts. In short, I was expecting him to lay out a vision, and then be willing to fight like hell to make it happen.

        In short, I guess I was hoping for a FDR or JFK — but instead, I’m starting to feel like I got Calvin Coolidge.

      27. lorie thom
        Posted December 21, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        Glen – I love it when you post like this. Right now, all over Ypsi…people are looking up Calvin Coolidge. :-)

      28. Bob
        Posted December 21, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        Kucinich getting the shiv from corporate media blowhards makes him a wacko? Such a hatchet job…I like how Russert, one of the most overrated “newsmen” in history, slips in the Shirley Maclaine reference for no real reason other than to diminish him. Kucinich merely admits he saw some object that was unidentified. Not unlike tens of thousands of others including astronauts, scientists and at least one of our most level-headed former presidents. If his statement regarding UFO’s is the wackiest thing he ever said, I would line up to vote him in.

      29. lorie thom
        Posted December 21, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Bob, its just one example of several. I wish the Cleveland Plain Dealer still had its story on it available. Really – he’s out there even with prepping for a presidential debate. Kucinich is a non-starter as a Presidential candidate.

      30. Posted December 21, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        @Glen

        Thanks for the response. You’re totally right that we have shifted rightword over the past 2o years. I don’t think anyone here would argue that. And I agree that many of the legislation that has been passed has been more moderate than progressive, but it seems to me that is more because of the fact that it is indeed harder to pass progressive legislation than in previous generations than Obama himself being all that moderate. But we end up in the same place either way.

        Let me explain what I meant further about the grassroots feeling like their job was done on election night. During the Bush years (and obviously the campaign), us on the Left did a decent job of being vocal about the issues we care about. But once Obama took office, it seems like we kinda backed off. He has taken similar national security stances as Bush, but you don’t see the same antiwar and anti-torture fervor. The financial regulation was modest and came a year and a half after the crisis, but the populism from the left wasn’t really very loud. In general, it seems the grassroots on the left backed off because we figured things would just get better now.

        I think we need to show the same kind of organizing we used to, and I think we need to hold or politicians feet to the fire be they democrat or republican, but I also think we need to look at the context of their decisions and not jump to conclusions before we put ourselves in their shoes. That said, I think this tax deal sucks, but maybe we carry some of the blame too.

        I still think creating an online group or forum where we can inform each other of bills on the local and national level that we think should or should not be supported to make contacting representatives easier is a good idea. If there is interest I’d be willing to create one.

      31. Glen S.
        Posted December 22, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        @ Joel.

        After eight years of Bush, I think that many of us on the left perhaps had a false sense of relief when Obama was elected — and perhaps too much confidence that Obama and Democratic leaders could generally be trusted to do the “right” things without having to resort to endless phone-calling, letter-writing, pressure tactics, etc. In retrospect — and considering the unprecedented amounts of corporate cash that are sloshing through our political system these days — that was probably unrealistic.

        I appreciate your suggestion that we need an online forum or group to serve as a kind of early-warning system and organizing tool to alert and help organize people around supporting (or opposing) particular legislation. But, I’ve got to say: As someone who already receives as many as half-a-dozen e-mails and “action updates” each day from groups like “Move On,” “Democracy for America,” “Progressive Change,” etc., each urging me to write or call my elected representatives to support (or oppose) some particular issue or legislation — I’m not sure this is really an effective response. It’s one thing for a “political junkie” like me who is lucky enough to have a little spare time to try to learn about these issues and try to take the time to make a phone call or fire off a letter. But what about the 95% of people who just don’t have the time or patience to get involved — folks who are working multiple part-time jobs, taking care of their kids, just trying to make ends meet?

        Added to that — I think the increasing number and complexity of many of these issues, and the legislation they generate is becoming a real barrier to citizen involvement and grass-roots activism. Take the healthcare reform fight, for example: Instead of proposing a fairly straightforward plan — such as just expanding Medicare, or — God forbid — implementing a single-payer system; we ended up spending MONTHS debating “insurance exchanges,” and “individual mandates,” and the “public option,” until finally — we ended up with a plan that nobody seems to either like or understand.

        And, I think the same could be said for a whole host of other important issues: Does the average person really have the time or patience to try to understand — let alone take action to reform — the vast and intricate sets of laws, regulations and agencies that impact their daily lives? Can most people — even many of the bright and thoughtful people on this site — explain, exactly. how something called a “credit default swap” nearly brought down the World economy (and may still do so … )?

        So, going back to my “FDR” analogy, I’ll say this. In the midst of the Great Depression, Roosevelt created a ton of new government bureaucracy to deal with the crisis (CCC, WPA, NLRB, etc.) — but, to the average person, this wasn’t point. In both words and DEEDS, Roosevelt communicated clearly and forcefully that he was on the side of struggling Americans, and slowly gained their trust. In the process, he created a spectacular and powerful coalition of union members, the unemployed, African-Americans, southern Whites, middle-class families, farmers and small business owners — that lasted for decades, and implemented the social safety net, as well as crucial reforms in financial regulation, politics, labor and education that helped generate unprecedented economic equality — and created what we now know as the “middle class” in America.

        Back then the “Democratic” brand signified hope for a better life for tens of millions of Americans. But, what does the Democratic Party of 2010 stand for? Lower taxes — including for billionaires? Picking away at the social safety net — including Social Security? Healthcare “reform” that mainly benefits the bottom lines of private insurance companies?

        I guess what I’m saying is, I think we need to get back to basics.

      32. Andy C
        Posted December 22, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        Um, the base didn’t get Obama elected. It was the massive ground campaign that brought out the 1st time voters that put him over. The get registered and get out to vote campaign was huge. None of that happened, or ever will happen, for the midterms. Will those people vote again? Maybe, but I think most won’t. Not because they don’t like Obama’s policies, I’m sure most aren’t paying attention to any of this, but because it won’t be a big movement like in 2008. Hell Kerry had the base in 2004, what good did that do him? The base will “suck it up”, they always do.

        As for Kucinich, every “wacko” position he had in the 2004 election, all the candidate backed by 2008. He got my vote in the primary, even though I knew he’ll never go all the way. He is where the Dems once was. Now it’s called the fringe. Nixon was way more liberal than Obama.

      33. Edward
        Posted December 22, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        The bottom line is that he doesn’t have a shot at raising enough to offset the corporate campaign (thanks to the Citizens United ruling) on behalf of the Republican candidate unless he has the base. It’s about money, and getting people to give their time to knock on doors and drag people to the polls. And Obama is going to have less on both counts this time. And he won’t have Palin to run against, which really worked to his benefit. Believe me, if he’s running against Romney, people aren’t going to be as motivated to fight on his behalf and fill his coffers. He needs his base, and maybe with the nuclear treaty and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell legislation under his belt, he’ll get a good number of them. Some, though, won’t be coming back.

      34. lorie thom
        Posted December 22, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        @Edward,

        that is really hard to tell because his cash was HUGE in the last campaign. I think he biggest challenge is in the kinds of voters he will have.

        Voters are divided into those who will do more than just vote your way(or against you) and those who will just vote your way(or against you). The voters who will do more than vote are the ones who will convince others(undecideds/independents) one way or another.

        the way Kerry lost his election for president was that he didn’t have really anyone fired up enough to do more than vote him. He was an energy/enthusiasm killer – so nobody really convinced the swing people.

        Obama has done something similar in the white house: he’s been condescending, overly intellectual, and distant from his base. I’ll vote for him again but I’m already exhausted from trying to defend him now when I haven’t agreed with much of what he’s done.

      35. Bob
        Posted December 22, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

        Lorie, you seem to buy in to the most obvious and cliched, mass-media driven version of events. From your simplistic, and largely unfounded assessment of Kucinich to the CNN/MSNBC/FOX pundit summary of Kerry’s defeat. Yes, John Kerry ran a bad campaign and is sort of unlikable, but he also probably won. I don’t have the energy to rehash the voting machine stunts, but ignoring that part of the story is a disservice. Calling someones electability a non-starter by repeating the mainstream media soundbite dismissal of them, also a disservice. Obama would have been gutted and marginalized like Kucinich, or Howard Dean or Ralph Nader if he were a white guy with the same ideas and approach. The fact that he is African American frightened those who would have otherwise destroyed him. I really believe that. They just couldn’t figure out how to do it and not appear to be complete monsters. The media and GOP would have knifed him in much the same way they did others and people like you would have repeated the mantra that was established. Kucinich is a wacko…Dean is angry…Nader is a crazy spoiler. Their not electable! It’s a load o’ crap.

      36. Bob
        Posted December 23, 2010 at 12:00 am | Permalink

        they’re not electable! …where’s my proofreader?

      37. lorie thom
        Posted December 23, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink

        @Andy C: well, not directly. A massive number of his base did more than just vote – they joined the campaign. They made phone calls. They knocked on doors. They donated money. They talked to their neighbors and converted the new and the undecided.

        @Bob,

        No Bob: Kerry “possibly won” in an election where he should have won clearly. He had the money, he had the message, he even had to “vote my way vote” – he did not have the swing. He should have won by enough that it wouldn’t have been a question. And Bob, I know this from the inside of the Michigan campaign. Even with Bush as the competition, people voted – they didn’t knock on doors or make phone calls like they did in the past. He won here handily on the union vote – very few new voters, very few swing voters. By contrast, he lost in Ohio where he should have won – less union percentage voters but not that much more conservative than Michigan. You can complain that it sounds like the mass media if you want. It is irrelevant what the media thinks. I know he sucked his people dry. I’m sorry you don’t like it but I’ve worked enough campaigns to know.

        As for Obama’s campaign, I disagree again. President Obama took a different approach with his campaign organization structure and it works. It wasn’t new. Local level campaigns run this way. He was able to get it to duplicate across the country and other campaigns have not done that. His campaign was decentralized and very grassroots, more one to one conversations that ever before. If you look at his donations they are mostly small and individual – skewed in that direction more than ever before. He innovated how to channel the money into his campaign with on-line availability and those local campaigns. It paid off to get him elected but the weakness is that he looses hunks of fund-raising capacity and doesn’t have a way to track how much because people will still vote for him, they just won’t do more than that.

        He will have to completely vilify the GOP folks for the next two years to get people that fired up again and I don’t see him doing that.

        As for Kucinich, I know too many people in his district and grew up listening to the man directly. I stand what I’ve said, he’s a fun wacko.

      38. Bob
        Posted December 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        Lorie, no offense. You say a lot but really just keep repeating the most obvious, well-worn campaign-review boilerplate. And at the risk of being mistaken for the worlds biggest Dennis Kucinich supporter, which I’m not, you still haven’t justified your original wacko label. You keep saying you “know people who know stuff” and you “saw a critical article somewhere.” Where is it? No one who has heard him speak for more than a soundbite would really think he’s anything close to wacko. If anything, he’s too serious and humorless. My real point is guys like him get marginalized and labeled “not electable” by the political power brokers and the talking points get passed around. Pretty soon the media, bloggers like you and the general public repeat the mantra…”not electable not electable status quo not electable…” I don’t buy it and it’s doing us all a disservice.

      39. lorie thom
        Posted December 23, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        Bob –

        Cleveland bankruptcy; abortion (for and against without actually figuring out what to say about it) apparently progressive until it comes to women; against funding federal insurance policies covering birth control until lately; and really, you should read the account Shirley puts in her book about the UFO that he confirmed.

        http://newconnexion.net/articles/index.cfm/2002/09/kucinich.html

        Look I appreciate him as a rep as does his district. They like him. Nearly the same folks narrowly missed recalling him as mayor as the city went into bankruptcy…btw, its not his fault but the way he handled it hamstrung that city for decades with goofy deals.

      40. Jiggs
        Posted December 24, 2010 at 2:49 am | Permalink

        Glen S. said: “Does the average person really have the time or patience to try to understand — let alone take action to reform — the vast and intricate sets of laws, regulations and agencies that impact their daily lives? ”

        NOPE. But they sure as hell know who won the game and all the stats for the players, which celebrities are getting divorced and who got voted off the reality shows. This is where we are. No one is paying attention to what matters. It’s really, really sad to not hear more thoughtful discussions in public about these things. It’s all come down to sound bites and headlines…which no one cares to look past or look into. No substance = no action.

      41. duncan
        Posted January 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        Taxing the rich or not taxing the rich isn’t what jeopardized the social security fund. Putting this fund into the General Fund and using it for mis-placed appropriations did that all on its own,.. whoever wrote this article needs to go back to school, and relay the facts as they stand…

      42. Glen S.
        Posted February 14, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        President Obama’s proposed federal budget is set to be released today. Among the details, from the NYT:

        “Among the losers are programs that Mr. Obama has supported, even expanded, in the past: Popular programs for home-heating aid to poor families and for community services block grants would be cut in half, and a multi-state Great Lakes cleanup project would lose a quarter of its money compared to 2010.

        Pell grants for needy college students would be eliminated for summer classes, and graduate students would start accruing interest immediately on federal loans, though they would not have to pay until after they graduate; both changes are intended to help save $100 billion over 10 years to offset the costs of maintaining Pell grants for 9 million students, according to administration officials.”

      43. John Galt
        Posted February 14, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        If the poor are cold, I suggest they move to Mexico.

      44. kjc
        Posted February 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        i love Kucinich. That’s my kind of wacko.

      45. Posted February 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        Maybe I’m just victim to suggestion, but Obama is starting to look more like Reagan every single day.

      46. Ted
        Posted February 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        Why don’t we change the name of Ypsilanti to I Hate America, Michigan?

      47. Glen S.
        Posted February 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        Why do I get the feeling that Obama and the Republicans are engaged in a classic “good cop/bad cop” routine as far as the federal budget is concerned?

        Possibly because we have reached the absurd the stage where “Democrat” Obama can propose all kinds of outrageous cuts to programs and services that support education, promote health and safety, protect the environment, and provide assistance to some of our most vulnerable citizens (along with extending tax cuts for the rich, and maintaining two unnecessary wars) — and still be praised by some as a “moderate” or even “liberal” compared to the off-the-charts wingnuttery of the Republicans

        On a semi-related note, I read yesterday that a Tea-Party Republican state legislator in Georgia has actually proposed outlawing drivers’ licenses in that state — on the premise that forcing someone to get a license to use their own private property is “unconstitutional.” My initial reaction was to laugh out loud … until I realized he will probably end up being their next Governor or Senator.

      48. Larry Seven Larry
        Posted February 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        I’ve moved my daughter into a small, dark closet in our house in an attempt to ready her for a career below ground, in the coal mines of Appalachia.

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