After all this time, including the hard lessons of 2010, Democrats refuse to learn a lesson that Republicans mastered a long, long time ago:
Fear Your BaseDemocrats not only refuse to learn it, they do just the opposite. Often called "hippie punching", Democrats continue to thumb their noses at their base of supporters. And they've taken it to great lengths in President Obamas latest budget proposal where unnecessary cuts to Social Security have been proposed; unnecessary because Social Security has nothing at all to do with the federal deficit or debt. On top of that, the budget doesn't do the one thing that would actually make Social Security more solvent than it currently is: raise the cap on contributions.
They have, however, learned the GOP "divide and conquor" tactic which is best displayed here:
Over and over again (particularly at the end of the interview), David Axlerod is seen virtually pitting government spending "that preseve and enhance those things that make our economy grow" and "give people a better shot" at education and jobs over the Medicaid and Social Security cuts which are proposed in the Obama budget. He cites that a Baby Boomer is turning 65 every 8 seconds as if that fact somehow makes it OK to throw them under the bus in favor of others. He touts "means testing" as a way to ensure that "the most vulnerable" are protected as if Social Security is some kind of welfare program where care has to be taken to prevent seniors from mooching benefits which should be there only for those who are virtually starving in the streets.
Senior citizens are the most consistent voters in this country. The rejection of Mitt "47%" Romney, Paul "Medicare Coupon" Ryan, and the rest of the non-gerrymandered granny starving GOP candidates in 2012 should have served as a lesson to Democrats everywhere. Doubling down on your own kind of Republican Crazy is not just irrational, it's just plain nuts.
2014 is just around the corner and this is almost exactly how the ruinous road to 2010 began; pissing off the 2008 voters with precompromised legislation which continued to get watered down. While voters came out in record numbers in 2008, independent voters, young people, and occassional voters just didn't see the need to bother in 2010 since the large majorities they put in Congress and a Democrat in the White House didn't seem to bring the "change we can believe in".
I phone banked and canvassed those elections, talked to hundreds and hundreds of people, and heard the same things over and over again. People felt they were treated like chumps and fools in 2008 and they were going to "send a message" to Democrats by staying home. The result was a Red Tide of Republicans taking power all over the country.
And that Red Tide with their extremist legislation enabled national Democrats to not only look the other way while their long-term union supporters lost their collective bargaining rights in several states, but schedule their 2012 convention in a non-union rights state as an extra kick in the teeth. Most union members (or former members) concentrated their efforts on state and local candidates in 2012 as I did.
Democrats need to learn, and fast, that Hippie Punching, Social Security cutting, and ignoring union busting might make them feel good, or give them the centrist appearing illusion of bipartisanship, but if they want to avoid a repeat of 2010, they need to become something other than The Other Guys Are Worse Party. They can't afford to lose more of their base voters.
I don't want them to fear their base. I want them to respect their base. Let's hope they're fast learners.