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A recent interesting debate over “entitlement reform” (a phrase for which scare quotes are always appropriate) reprised a long-running feud between liberals and centrists over the soul of the Democratic Party.  Arguing [www.thedemocraticstrategist.org/strategist/2013/07/memo_from_third_way_the_four_f.php] for “entitlement reform” are the Third Way,  a successor of sorts to the defunct Democratic Leadership Council.  The centrists, who often like to call themselves New Democrats, have always aimed to make the Democratic Party one way or another look more like moderate Republicans.  They tend to get favorable reviews from mass media commentators, whose obsession with non-partisan “balance” makes them love centrists of all stripes.  They also get a good deal of financing from business groups who would be happy to support moderate Republicans if they existed.  But an important weapon in their ideological arsenal is their ability to draw on the myth of centrist success: the notion that Democrats succeed when they campaign and govern from the center.

The myth of centrist success dates back to Bill Clinton’s election as president.  The mythical narrative goes basically like this: ever since the Vietnam War and the McGovern  disaster of 1972, the Democrats had been steadily becoming too liberal and therefore out of touch with ordinary American voters.  The liberal excesses were closely linked to the party’s identification with a variety of “special interests”: blacks, organized labor, and feminists, among others (but really, first and foremost, blacks).  The party’s problems were accurately diagnosed by  the Democratic Leadership Council, whose leader, Bill Clinton, effectively used the DLC’s diagnosis to find cures for the party’s ills.  Clinton succeeded in recapturing the allegiance of a sufficient chunk of middle America to win election and re-election.  He did so by emphasizing themes that the Democrats had long since neglected--personal responsibility, toughness on crime and national security, and an appreciation of the advantages of markets over government action.

A big problem with this narrative is that it rests entirely on one very contingent  event: Clinton’s election as president.  (His re-election can more or less be folded into the same event--presidents usually get re-elected, Carter and Bush I notwithstanding.)  Suppose we entertain a counterfactual scenario.  Suppose that that quintessential “old Democrat,” Mario Cuomo, had entered the field of presidential candidates in 1992.  There is a good chance that Cuomo would have triumphed over Clinton in the primaries and then, for the same reasons Clinton beat Bush (“the economy, stupid”), gone on to the White House. In that case, the New Democrat narrative would be exactly nowhere today.  The DLC’s diagnosis of the Dems’ problems would have gone down the memory hole, along with the whole mythology of success through centrism.  

“Aha!” you say: but facts are more powerful than counterfactuals, and the fact is that Clinton did get elected and re-elected to the presidency, after three successive Democratic failures.  Fair enough.  But let’s consider some facts that the New Democrats and their admirers tend to gloss over.  One fact is that there had already been a New Democrat in the White House.  His name was Jimmy Carter, often regarded as the most conservative Democratic president since Grover Cleveland.  Jimmy Carter’s centrism didn’t work out so well, which is undoubtedly why his name is almost invariably missing from the New Democrats’ narrative.  The New Democrats also can’t easily account for the election of 2000, in which irreproachably centrist Al Gore, one of the very early favorites of the New Dems, barely managed to fight George W. Bush to a draw despite a booming economy that should have favored the incumbent party.  (Gore was actually behind in the polls until he he abandoned New Democrat orthodoxy and adopted a more populist stance in the closing weeks of the campaign.)

Did the New Democrats’ work finally bear fruit again in 2008, when the Democrats again re-took the White House?  We can answer that question with another question: was the Democratic Party that won with the glamorous centrist liberal, Barack Obama, really that different from the Democratic Party that lost with the dull centrist liberal, Michael Dukakis, 20 years earlier?  The electoral coalition was pretty much the same in both years: all the old “special interests” that had lined up behind Dukakis--minorities, women, labor, etc.-- were there for Obama.  What changed was the demography, which now favored the Dems, and the circumstances.   (There’s nothing like a catclysmic financial crisis to make the incumbent party look bad.)  Obama, like Dukakis, lost the white working class.  

That’s not to say that Bill Clinton didn’t make some significant changes in Democratic Party politics: he changed the mix of “special interests” in the Democrats’ corner.  Organized labor was off-sided while the party’s longstanding alliance with important sectors of Wall Street and international business was solidified and deepened.  This achievement--if you want to call it that--opened spigots for Democrats’ campaign financing.  In policy terms, Clinton’s achievement was reflected in his administration’s strong support for financial de-regulation and free trade.  And that legacy has persisted: witness the banker-friendly economic team that Obama (Wall Street’s favored candidate in 2008) brought into office with him, and the administration’s continued push for free trade agreements.  The Democrats’ centrist legacy is also reflected in Obama’s repeatedly expressed willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare in the search for a grand bargain with the Republicans.  

But no one can argue that either financial de-regulation or free trade or “entitlement reform” have been popular issues for the Democrats; quite the contrary.   More plausible is the argument that a populist Democratic Party that is tough on Wall Street, appropriately skeptical of free trade and stalwart in defense of the safety net would have better chances of recouping the support of working and lower middle class Americans who have concluded that both parties are beholden, more or less, to corporate interests.    

Originally posted to Tony Greco--Talking About Politics on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 09:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (119+ / 0-)
  •  We need a website (17+ / 0-)

    where people that have this view can congregate and gather and talk.

    Maybe call it "Daily Kos." Have a flag guy as an emblem, that symbolizes rallying around the view.

    Once the website, with the purpose, was set up for us, all we'd be responsible for is the rallying part.

    •  REC the diary everyone, don't just tip it. (9+ / 0-)

      For those who don't know, you need to click Recommend right underneath the tags, in addition to just rec'ing the tip jar.

      •  The problem is, it's not that simple. (0+ / 0-)

        Obama represented a successful big tent candidacy.  It was the netroots who early on gave Obama an edge over Clinton, although she similarly is a big tent figure.  The Republicans may have actively done all they could to obstruct Obama and wedge blue dogs against him, but that's not the tune that was playing in 2008, when even Republicans for Obama existed.

        In 2008, Colorado was not clearly a blue state. I know because I lived there, and outside of the insular bubbles that are Denver and Boulder. In 2008, Indiana was still swingy Midwest.

        This diary makes two fundamental approaches I disagree with: 1) It glorifies the past, and 2) makes an implicit appeal to ideological drift.  Those things are fine, but count me out.  The good old days are never as clean as people (almost always white) casually will claim. And secondly, you can get elected nationally as a liberal thanks to changing demography, true, but that's a big open-ended hypothetical.   The diarist didn't really qualify that part. Chuck Schumer is a liberal, but I think most of us progressives would agree that's not what we want in a president.

        We need climate change regulation, fast, but we also need to have the southern Midwest and the South coming back into the fold. Health care should show us that the states can put up quite a fight with consequences for millions of people who are geographically unfortunate. And those of us in red America stand to lose a lot when the ideological divergence between the states is so great. I don't particularly care for the people who are telling me that the Donnellys and the McCaskills aren't good for much. You try it sometime.

        Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change -- George Monbiot.

        by Nulwee on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 04:17:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Corporatism IS NOT CENTRISM, it's right wing... (65+ / 0-)

    ...economics.

    One reason the voting public is so confused is because the DLC Corporatists went to town with the Corporate media moving the Overton Window so far to the right on economic issues that Richard Nixon's economic legacy looks more like Lenin's than Obama's.

    Democrats need to STOP using the word "centrist" when referring to neo-liberals. Neo-liberal economic doctrine is toxic to the world's middle class, and does nothing but cement political and economic power into the grasp of a handful of unelected, ludicrously wealthy psychopaths.

    That’s not to say that Bill Clinton didn’t make some significant changes in Democratic Party politics: he changed the mix of “special interests” in the Democrats’ corner.  Organized labor was off-sided while the party’s longstanding alliance with important sectors of Wall Street and international business was solidified and deepened.  This achievement--if you want to call it that--opened spigots for Democrats’ campaign financing.  In policy terms, Clinton’s achievement was reflected in his administration’s strong support for financial de-regulation and free trade.
    This is how Bill Clinton ruined the Democratic party, and it is precisely why we are currently floundering our way out of
    Bill Clinton's Recession.

    Bill Clinton was not a centrist, neither is Hillary, neither is the current leadership of the Democratic party.

    They are all economic Conservatives, properly known as neo-liberals, and by continuing to elect them we are putting the viability of our nation as an economically sound democracy at risk.

  •  I no longer vote for centrists (26+ / 0-)

    If I do so by accident, I don't repeat my mistake.  

    The Social Security thing sent me over the edge.  I am not paying for the NSA and the MIC and all the other out of control black budgets with my Social Security and since Nancy Pelosi and Barrack Obama will not take Social Security off the table and will not stop the out of control Surveillance State, there will be no vote from me in 2014.

    •  Yep, me too now (15+ / 0-)

      No single payer
      Gitmo still open
      Mass surveillance
      No bankers in jail

      Abortion rights ain't enough anymore. My give-a-shit-o-meter is broke. Noone, and I mean NO ONE represents my ideas in the dem party. They are ashamed of the mechanisms that built the middle class after WWII, and I really do think they're fucked now. I vote to blow it up now. I can always move when it finally turns to shit for good here.

      I support the two-state solution: for the USA.

      by plok on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 01:36:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not liking the bipartisan social issues con (21+ / 0-)

        Social issues and identity politics while both parties steal us blind on economic issues and surveil us silly.  

        •  There are 2 Americas (11+ / 0-)

          and the one that lost the Civil War is running my life.

          I support the two-state solution: for the USA.

          by plok on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 01:48:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Bullshit. (8+ / 0-)

            This is the same thinking that got us Dubya instead of Al Gore. How did that work out? Was there really no meaningful difference between Dubya and Gore?

            Obamacare has plenty of faults. The 2009 stimulus was far less than what we needed, and still need. But both are a huge improvement over the status quo, significantly improving the lives tens of millions of people. And both were fought tooth and nail by the GOP. Bad off as the USA is now, it would surely be worse off under President McCain or President Romney. Hell, if McCain had won in 2008 then by now we could still be facing three more years of the possibility we'd wake up one morning to President Palin.

            In the Dem primary, by all means, support the most progressive candidate. I've even argued that the Dems and Greens should build a coalition, and took some flak for it. But when November comes, hold your nose, vote Dem, and be grateful if the GOP loses.

            "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

            by HeyMikey on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 02:32:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Since when have Democrats (14+ / 0-)

              ever been interested in forming a coalition with the Greens?  

              I've even seen my local Democratic Party reject overtures from the Greens.

              Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

              by corvo on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 02:44:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That was my point. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sebastianguy99, Calamity Jean

                I was suggesting the Dems do something different. Not just for ideological reasons, but also simply to win.

                I still think they should do it.

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 03:49:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think that the party has been doing something (9+ / 0-)

                  Different.  It's thrown in its lot with the neoliberals in an attempt to coax money out of Wall Street , and votes from moderate Republicans.  The Party has abandoned its base, and demonstrably cares for liberal social issues only to the extent that they can trade something for nothing.  Tell me again why that makes them better than the Republican Party?  

                  •  Reasons. (4+ / 0-)

                    (1) Obamacare will expand healthcare to millions who don't now have it.

                    (2) Because of the stimulus, millions have jobs who would otherwise be unemployed.

                    (3) The decision striking down DOMA was 5-4. Sotomayor and Kagan, two Obama appointees, were 2 of the 5. How do you think that vote would have gone if we'd elected President McCain to make those two nominations? Wanna tell the thousands of people who've married a spouse of the same sex in the last couple weeks that both parties are the same? What about the ones whose same-sex spouses have received green cards, instead of being deported? Think they'd agree with you?

                    (4) A lot of under-the-radar stuff, like raising the regulatory cost of 1 ton of carbon emission by 60%. Basically this lays the groundwork for significantly more aggressive greenhouse regulation. You think the administration of President Romney would be laying that groundwork? http://www.businessweek.com/...

                    Yes, we should be aggressive about working for a more progressive Democratic party. We absolutely should be disappointed in the many failures of our current leadership. But purism leads to Dubya. Recall 2000, or doom all of us to repeat 2001-08.

                    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                    by HeyMikey on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:34:52 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  They won't. (7+ / 0-)

                  The Democratic and Green Parties are fundamentally opposed on most issues that matter to party hierarchies, whereas the Democratic and Republican Parties have remarkably similar views on those issues: defense, business, and austerity, for starters.

                  Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

                  by corvo on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:01:33 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Hierarchies respond to base. Chicken & egg. (4+ / 0-)

                    How did the hierarchies get to be that way?

                    Example: in 2009-10, Blue Dog Blanche Lincoln watered down the stimulus, watered down the healthcare bill. Progressive Bill Halter ran against her in the 2010 primary--in which less than 5% of the population of Arkansas turned out for Halter. Lincoln won (not by much) and went on to lose to some idiot GOPer in the fall.

                    It should be no surprise that the hierarchy sticks to "centrism" when less than 5% turns out for progressivism.

                    See my other comment, "learned helplessness," in which I argue the party could have more electoral success by being more progressive. But obviously many in the hierarchy would see that as a risky strategy. Churchill's assessment of Americans certainly applies to the Democrats:

                    We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.

                    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                    by HeyMikey on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:21:30 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  They don't see it as a risky strategy. (0+ / 0-)
                      See my other comment, "learned helplessness," in which I argue the party could have more electoral success by being more progressive. But obviously many in the hierarchy would see that as a risky strategy.
                      They see it as an undesirable strategy, consideration of which is to be quashed at all costs.

                      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

                      by corvo on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:11:08 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Dubya got us Obama (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              costello7, Dallasdoc, elwior

              and sweeping Dem victories in 2006. Gee where'd it go wrong?! Lincoln-esque hogwash in the face of insults and obstruction.  

              I support the two-state solution: for the USA.

              by plok on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 02:45:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yet more bullshit. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sebastianguy99

                So, two wars and turning a surplus into a huge deficit just in time for the biggest world economic crisis in 70 years and  the retirement of the Baby Boomers was worth it because it led to...the centrist sellout you deplore? Right.

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 04:02:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not to mention... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  qofdisks

                  13 years and counting of failure to act on global warming.

                  "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                  by HeyMikey on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 04:03:44 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  W. was given the Oval Office-it was a S Court coup (5+ / 0-)

              The right of the women of this State to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches shall not be violated by the State legislature.

              by Mayfly on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 02:52:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Bullshit. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mayfly, Calamity Jean

                Bullshit in the sense that it's literally true, but doesn't come close to covering the important points.

                (1) Why were there 5 votes for Dubya on the Supreme Court? Because the GOP held the White House 1969-76 and 1981-92. (The 5 votes were 1 Nixon appointee, 3 Reagan appointees, and 1 Bush 41 appointee.)

                (2) Why was the election even close enough for the Supremes to have a chance to give it to Dubya? Because of, among other things, Nader.

                Yes, I know there were other factors besides Nader, and that some of those factors were the fault of Gore or the Democratic Party. We should avoid repeating all those mistakes, not just some. And one was Nader...including the failure of Nader and Gore to work in coalition, as I suggested in my diary linked above.

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 04:00:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  HeyMikey, tipped for pointing out other factors-- (5+ / 0-)

                  there was also Kathleen Harris being the top Florida official in charge of elections & at the same time W's campaign chairman.  And there was the Palm Beach ballot designed by a partisan Republican. And there were the trays & trays of punch card ballots in Duval County's (Jacksonville) predominately African-American neighborhoods that were not counted. And there were the "coincidental" police checks outside low-income neighborhoods in Florida on election day when a broken tail-light could get you a ticket.  (I was living in Florida at the time).

                  The right of the women of this State to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches shall not be violated by the State legislature.

                  by Mayfly on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:27:45 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Nader work in a coalition? lol (0+ / 0-)

                  Nader's ego is too huge.
                  The only coalition he ever worked with as far as politics is concerned is when he worked with the GOP, when the GOP funded his 2004 campaign for the sole purpose of hurting Kerry, and Nader knew that that was the GOP's objective and he still took the money.

                  •  Still more bullshit. (0+ / 0-)

                    (1) Obviously my point was not about Nader alone, but about a regular practice the Dem party should pursue.

                    (2) If Gore had publicly offered Nader a coalition like I propose, Nader would have faced a lot of pressure to accept. And even if he'd rejected it, that would've motivated some Nader voters to flip back to Gore.  And it only would've taken a few.

                    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                    by HeyMikey on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 07:44:46 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  You mean struggle until its inevitable, (6+ / 0-)

              Then just lie back and think of America?
              The thing about always settling for whatever neoliberal candidate the party runs for us, is that the party never has to fight for our votes.  
              And no matter how often the establishment folks tell me that its my fault that the Republican I didn't vote for won... It isn't.  The fault lies not in me, but in the party that didn't think my vote worth fighting for.

              •  "Fault"--you & I think it means different things. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                qofdisks

                You are using "fault" in the sense of "moral or ethical wrong."

                I was using "fault"--actually, I don't think I was using "fault" at all, probably precisely because it's a morally loaded word. I spoke of "factors" (no moral/ethical connotation there) and "mistakes" (which I suppose has a moral/ethical dimension, but I meant it in the sense of successful or failed tactics).

                The difference is important. For me, rewarding or punishing the Democratic leadership for their "fault" is very much a secondary consideration. I'm more interested in the lives of millions of Americans who are affected by legislation...or the failure to pass legislation. It would be nice for the Democrats to do the right thing for the right reason, but it's more important for them just to do the right thing. And even more important than that, is for them to do something that's less wrong than what the GOP would do.

                Yes, I know, that's a damn low bar to clear. But that's what our choice is--the lesser evil or the greater evil.

                Please see my other comment on this diary, "learned helplessness," in which I argue that the Dems should be significantly more progressive. It is not a contradiction to believe both that, and that we should pick the least bad realistic alternative.

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:11:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Here's the thing: (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Hoomai29, qofdisks

                  I too, am more concerned about the lives of millions of Americans being affected by legislation passed, or not passed.  And I too think its more important for Democrats to do the right thing.  I don't give a damn about the right reason. I think where we differ is that I believe the right thing means voting for the side that benefits the most people, not the side that hurts the least people.  Not when Democrats are in the majority, as they are in the Senate.  I think the real problem is that Democrats are still acting as if they were in the minority and its their job to prevent evil, as opposed to PROMOTE good.  As long as we keep trying to convince each other that we are responsible for holding the line rather than advancing it, we will never actually accomplish any of the things that we say we're for.
                  I don't accept that my tactics have to be your tactics.  I am not responsible for the success or failure of your tactics. Especially when I don't agree with them.  And I don't think you further your tactics by telling other democrats that its their fault that your tactics failed if they don't agree to vote the way you want them to.  And, yeah, bringing up Nader is assigning fault.
                  I think we agree on the basics, just not the tactics.  You can blame Nader and Nader voters for Bush, but I don't think it's going to get you more votes.
                  It should be easy , in a country that polls in the neighborhood of 90% in favor of gun control to achieve gun control.  So why haven't we?  Could it be that your tactic of demanding that Democrats vote for the least evil thing has stocked the Senate with Democrats who were elected to keep the status quo, and not necessarily move to satisfy the voters?
                  Peace, brother.  I'm only asking that you consider the other side of the equation before you condemn me.  It's ok that you think good enough is good enough.  But I want better.  Why do you berate me for wanting better?  Why do you stand in the way when I reach for what I think we can have?

      •  Lucky You! Rub It In Our Faces! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KJG52, fabucat
        I can always move when it finally turns to shit for good here.
        Most of us can't move, particularly the poor and the low to middle of the middle class. What do you suggest that we do?

        "Somehow, one of our nation’s two great parties has become infected by an almost pathological meanspiritedness..." -Paul Krugman

        by paz3 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 03:40:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You sound like a rich person (I can always move) (0+ / 0-)

        who has no real problems, and therefore very easily "don't give a shit" about social issues.  Well lots of peole DO care about those issues, and I hate to break it to you, but more people care about those social issues and more passionately so than they care about any of the issues you list.  For example, what percentage of the public do you think really gives a shit about Gitmo?  And how many REALLY passionately care about it, compared to the social issues that directly affect their lives?

  •  Compromising from the center... (29+ / 0-)

    does not create centrist politics.

    It Creates slightly less right wing politics, and keeps moving right with the psychos...

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 01:04:51 PM PDT

  •  Bless you. (10+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the facts.

    Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 01:35:18 PM PDT

  •  Why diarist is right: learned helplessness. (6+ / 0-)
    Learned helplessness is the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards. Learned helplessness theory is the view that clinical depression and related mental illnesses may result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation.[1] Organisms that have been ineffective and less sensitive in determining the consequences of their behavior are defined as having acquired learned helplessness.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Or as Orwell put it:

    In the face of terrifying dangers and golden political opportunities, people just keep on keeping on, in a sort of twilight sleep in which they are conscious of nothing except the daily round of work, family life, darts at the pub, exercising the dog, mowing the lawn, bringing home the beer, etc.

    George Orwell

    This is the phenomenon that leads people to say things like, "Dubya and Al Gore are not really different, so I'm either voting Nader or not at all"; "I'm going to punish the Dems by voting Green or not voting"; etc.--like some commenters on this diary.

    This is caused by, in truth, the Dems not being different enough from the GOP to get the attention of the ordinary people who are mainly paying attention to TV, the dog, beer, American Idol, the Kardashians, etc. Wishing that the vast mass of humanity would change its basic nature is idiocy; a large % are never going to pay a lot of attention to politics unless things get as bad as in, say, Egypt.

    E.g., turnout was up in 2006 and 2008 because Dubya was extraordinarily awful, we had the worst economic crisis in 7 decades, Obama had a life story right out of Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces, etc. But then the Dems in 2009-10 merely stopped the hemorrhaging, without bringing much actual improvement--reinforcing learned helplessness. So in November 2010 turnout was back down to its usual meh level.

    In other words, the only way to drive up Dem turnout, aside from waiting for a crisis every 70 years or so, is to stop reinforcing learned helplessness. Dems have to be more different than the GOP. This requires changing the behavior of only a few dozen politicians, certainly difficult, but more doable than changing the behavior of a hundred million citizens. Citizens are a random sample, but politicians are extremely non-random. Start fixing this by:

    * Fixing the filibuster.

    * Using the EPA to crack down on greenhouse gases, thus creating clean energy jobs, as I advocated 2 years ago.

    Hope that's enough to bring the Dems control of the House, Senate, and White House in 2014.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 02:22:36 PM PDT

  •  Let's get rid of the myth of Bill Clinton (21+ / 0-)

    Bill Clinton was not a great president.  Many of our current ills started with his signature.  To name a few:

    - Deregulating the banks

    - NAFTA

    - The Telecommunications Act

    -  Welfare Reform

    That's just for openers.  

    Bill Clinton was a DINO who came along during a Republican revival and a dot.com bubble.

    The Republican positions were his positions.  He had no problem whatsoever signing whichever Republican bill came across his desk.  

    It's time Bubba, his ideas, his presidency, and his wife get kicked to the curb.  

    They've done nothing to advance the middle/working class in this county.  

  •  Excellent Diary. Great Points! (7+ / 0-)

    Our leaders need to examine their goals, or maybe develop some goals.  The problem is that the opposition knows exactly where they want to this country to go and there is nothing in that direction for us.  Barack Obama had a voice and, on occasion, he steps up and uses that voice to describe a nation that we could be.  But, then he sits back down and lets the GOP and the Religious wing nuts take control once again.

    My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

    by NM Ray on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 02:25:46 PM PDT

  •  Whew....thanks for that (15+ / 0-)

    I've been saying for years that the Democrats alienated their base of working class voters who, out of frustration, began voting their prejudices instead of their pocketbooks (i.e. voting Republican). Of course, the professional Democratic consultants KNOW ALL, about splitting hairs and trying to "capture" the mythical independent voter.

    Now we have a Democratic Party which essentially stands for nothing, and engages with the public through a series of "social issues" affecting small minorities of voters, while ignoring the crushing of the middle and working class, an ongoing problem now for thirty years.

    While going to college became the exclusive providence of the wealthy, and home ownership for the 20-30 age working person became a vanishing ideal, the Democrats not only did nothing to help, they have been instrumental in assisting the Republicans in their efforts to make it happen.

    Now they can't even assert their majority in the Senate to get Presidential appointees confirmed, much less pass legislation supporting the people.

    Yeah.....you guess it, now I have no one to vote for. Three cheers for the true last Democratic President, Jimmy Carter.      

    •  Didn't you read the diary? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karma5230, fabucat, Tony Situ

      Carter was a labeled a bum.
      FDR is the only dem President that the current ''left'' can even stomach,if they can get by the internment of japanese-americans.

      I suspect there really is no President in the history of this country that some folks would ever consider truly worthy.

      They are on a permanant search for the perfect President....who will never exist-not  up to their standards.

      Sorry to burst your bubbles,but that person does not exist,and we have to muddle thru life without this mythical progressive hero.

      Progressive implys working to make progress...that can be done.

    •  No, LBJ. But that fucking war. n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  Carter was a horrible president, IMO. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dalerb

      And progressives of the time agreed with me on that, which is why we primaried Carter with Ted Kennedy.  Carter was DLC before DLC came into being.  I still sometimes daydream on what things would be like today had Ted Kennedy defeated Carter in the primary.

      I give Carter props for Camp David and his forays in to alternative energy but that's it.  Besides Camp David, his foreign policy sucked (thanks, Zbig).  The economy was a disaster, and while we might technically be in a deeper recession now (or slowly recovering from one), Carter's economy felt much worse and felt worse for a longer time period.  "Stagflation" was a word invented to specifically to describe the Carter economy - high (double-digit, IIRC) inflation and stagnant growth.  And let's not forget the energy shortages that occurred because Carter didn't have the first clue how to handle OPEC.  I remember the long gas lines that existed for no good reason.

      Oh, and how about Carter robbing our Olympic athletes of their dreams?  

      And there were numerous DLC policies Carter tried to push, which was a reason Ted Kennedy primaried him, with the support of progressives (we were called "liberals" back then, of course).

      And by the way, have you ever checked out Carter's record as governor of GA?  He was no progressive there either.  And to make matters worse, when he ran for that office he made appeals to segregationists in order to run to the right of his opponent in the primaries.  Now, once Carter was elected governor, he blew off those segregationists, but he catered to their resentments in the primaries.

      The only reason Carter won the Democratic presidential primaries in 1976 was because the major candidates were caught napping.  Before they knew it, this upstart one-term governor from GA was off and running before they even had formed exploratory committees. lol

      Carter is a great post-president.  But a terrible actual president.  Were I to discard agreement/disagreement with policy, and just look at competence, I would rank Carter only above W when ranking the presidents of my cognizant lifetime.

      OK, end-of-rant. :)

  •  Federal-level politics of the last 35 years (10+ / 0-)

    has been about keeping big business happily ensconced in profits while global economic growth rates have declined from decade to decade.  Somehow it has gotten to the point where this version of politics, endorsed by both major political parties, has become "centrist" while at the same time being, in fact, conservative.

    "It's not my fault reality is marxist." - Che Guevara

    by Cassiodorus on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 03:14:15 PM PDT

  •  My take is a bit different, though I agree (11+ / 0-)

    with everything you've said.

    As I see it, the mass of the population swing from one pole to the other over time.  The politicians are always behind the curve.  Politicians are always REactive as opposed to PROactive.

    Usually, when the government seems most out of touch with the will of the people--when all seems hopeless and lost--that's a sign that the people pendulum has swung in the opposite direction and the political pemndulum will soon follow.

    The country swung hard to the left for awhile.  The anti-war protests of the late 60s--while a great and righteous thing--represented the last gasp of the leftward swing.  The country had begun a backlash that saw the election of the "law and order" candidate, Richard Nixon.  But that was still just the beginning of the swing right.  I've said more than once--and been greatly criticized for it--that, in terms of actual policy, Richard Nixon was for more liberal than Obama.  It wasn't the man, it was the times.  Nixon brought us the EPA and affirmative action, not because he wanted to, but because he was in office during the early phase of the rightward swing.  Nixon could have done much greater damage to this country had he realized he was behind the swing.  By the same token, Obama could do so much more good if he just realized how far behind the leftward swing HE is.  Then again, maybe that's just who he is--a corporate Dem through and through.  I honestly can't tell.  He sometimes says things that make me want to believe that his heart is in the right place but, whenever it comes down to actual policy, he almost makes me long for RayGun and definitely does make me long for Nixon.  He's been re-elected and can't run again, so why the f#@% can't he behave like a Democrat and embrace Democratic policies?  We already know the Rethugs won't back their own policies if Obama comes out for them.  What has he got to lose?

    In any case, look at the polls over a thirty year period and you'll see that we--as a people--have been moving leftward for more than ten years, at least.  Our Democratic politicians have been blissfully unaware of what, to me, is obvious.  A few seem to be getting a clue, now.  But, truthfully, the old guard Dems who rose in Bill Clinton's wake will need to be swept aside if we are to continue as the dominant party during the leftward swing and if we are truly to take advantage of it with policy changes that are desperately needed to get America back on track.

    The abortion battles and the Tea Party Repubs are the last gasp of the rightward swing.  They've done plenty of damage, but they are done.  Stick a fork in them.  They'll lose seats in 2014, trying to run further right.  Ordinarily, the country tires of the party in the WH after two terms and, ordinarily, any Rethug would have a big advantage for that.  If they course correct before 2016, they could still.  As things stand, though--if they stay their far right course--2016 will be their McGovern election.  The Rethugs only stand a chance of remaining relevant if one of two things happens.  Either Rethugs must moderate (as a whole) OR the Dems could blow it by failing to take advantage of the tide that is coming in our direction by continuing to embrace this "moderate" pose.  Centrist Dems are surrendering the advantage by alienating a rising population of progressive minded citizens who truly DO see little difference between the two parties on pocketbook issues.

    That's why I say we've got to sweep the current crop of "Moderate" Dems from office (not all at once, obviously).  Too many have not just been compromised by the ideology of the right, but by the corporate interests that currently own pretty much all of them.  If we don't, I suspect both current parties will be swept aside entirely--either at the ballot box or, eventually, through revolution.

    For these reasons, I can't see supporting Hillary Clinton as a positive strategy for Democrats.  She's one of those old New Democrats.  I see her as more of the same when what is truly needed in THESE times (both in terms of policy AND politics) are bold progressives.  Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand--that's a candidate I could get enthousistic about.  And I suspect a majority of the populace at large would agree (even if a large swath of DKos posters might not).

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."—Frederick Douglass

    by costello7 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 04:20:41 PM PDT

    •  Please consider this a +10 Rec! (6+ / 0-)
      Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand--that's a candidate I could get enthousistic about.  And I suspect a majority of the populace at large would agree
      ...

      -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

      Why must we struggle to protect the accomplishments of Democrats of the past from Democrats of the present? -- cal2010

      by 84thProblem on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:11:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Leftward movement? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      costello7, Grabber by the Heel

      I'm interested in your point "...look at the polls over a thirty year period and you'll see that we--as a people--have been moving leftward for more than ten years, at least."  Can you cite any sources?  My impression is that the polls haven't shown any clear trend, or maybe just slightly a shift to the left on economic policy.  

      As for 2016, prospects don't appear particularly encouraging--Hillary seems to have it if she wants it, though I would be delighted to support Warren or anyone else who challenged Hillary from the left.  

      •  No citations, per se (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sidnora, greenbell, Catte Nappe, qofdisks

        The difficulty in polling specifically on economic issues is precisely the point of the diary.  The people are confused by the uniformly pro-business, anti-people stance that ALL of our politicians, left and right, profess.  I mean, you know, if you want to look at polling on (supposed) "free trade", the people have always been overwhelmingly opposed...and rightfully so.  Both conservatives and progressives (perhaps for different reasons) believe these have accelerated the decline of the American middle class greatly.  But nobody really has any idea what to do about that since both political parties have embraced the policy and sell it to the masses as the path to salvation.  Every once in a while, you'll see a local race where an otherwise fairly mainstream politician from either side will run against our free trade policies and that person (assuming they're not otherwise whacko) will generally win.  But then they aren't in any position to actually affect the policy, so its meaningless except as politics.

        I do think that BOTH the original Tea Party movement and Occupy demonstrate clearly that the American people across the entire spectrum have about had it with the economic policies of both parties (which are conservative policies).  But the Tea Party was co-opted and corrupted by the very powers (i.e. mostly corporations and Republicans) that were causing the distress.  And Occupy, unwilling to be co-opted, was, instead, squashed by those (i.e. mostly Democrats, no doubt at the behest of corporations and banks) who should have been its allies.

        But look at polls on most of the social issues--leave aside the political shell game of it--and, well, would you have imagined just 12 years ago that gay marriage would enjoy majority support today?  Legalizing marijuana?  Immigration reform?  Hell, I was saying during the Clinton administration that, by 2015 or thereabouts, single payer healthcare would have the support of the majority of Americans and we're darn close to that now (the Tea Party/Fixed Noise sideshow aside).  Disect the opposition to the ACA and you'll find that half of it is from people who wanted a more liberal healthcare bill (such opinion pooh-poohed by those who believe the centrist myth).  Ask the single payer question straight-up and a plurality is in favor (I've seen a poll or two that has an actual majority, but those may yet be outliers).  If you'd asked these same questions during RayGun's time--or even Clinton's--you'd think we'd never reach majority support for such classicly liberal positions.  That's why I can't demonize Clinton, much as I despise some of his "achievements".  He was at a different point in the pendulum swing.  The "centrist" approach probably was the right one for the party at that time.  And, no, I'm not convinced Cuomo, had he gotten the nomination then, would have been elected (nor, actually, am I convinced he'd have governed to the left of Clinton if he had been).  But I CAN and DO fault Obama for governing as if the times haven't changed since RayGun's and Clinton's time.  And I really do wonder if he isn't, at heart, just a RayGun conservative with a "D" after his name when he proposes something as stupid (both in terms of policy and politics) as cutting Social Security.

        As to Hillary...  Yeah, sure, she's the frontrunner NOW.  And nobody knows better than she that that's not necessarily the place you want to be this far out.  Sadly, "the establishment" generally makes such calls, at least up to a point.  Here's hoping they wise up.  Honestly, I'm not optimistic that they'll recognize the swing (or embrace it if they do) and we may end up with the Republican version of Jimmy Carter in 2016 instead of a Democrat in the WH.  Which is to say a one-term genuine right-wing conservative.  I don't know who it would be, frankly.  All I see on that side of the aisle are clowns.  But it is still early.

        Two of my favorite quotes to wrap.  One is JFK's "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."  The other is the Frederick Douglass quote below.

        "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."—Frederick Douglass

        by costello7 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 08:19:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Clinton was a great politician, so was Reagan (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KJG52, 84thProblem, chuckvw, blueoasis

    The point of Clinton's victory was not his centrism; that's a false narrative.  So the diary nailed that one.

    Carter was a mediocre politician.  He came along after Watergate and the country wanted "clean".  Which he delivered, along with "mush from the wimp".  Being president was good preparation for his later career, though.

    Reagan was The Great Communicator.  That is, he was an actor who could read lines given to him by rich sponsors.  He had no idea what it meant, and Alzheimers cemented that.  But damn could he read lines.  So he was popular among folks who preferred style to substance, which is a lot of them.

    Bush I was a pretty bad politician, no style, just inheriting Reagan's mantle and lucky that Dukakis was very weak on the stump (too cerebral for the masses).  So he was easily knocked off by Clinton, who could charm the ants off of a honey jar.  But Clinton's politics were thus irrelevant; he was the Democrat taking on an unpopular Bush, and he charmed the voters.

    Obama's not bad on the stump either.  He plays the role well.  He plays sort-of-liberal on the stump, and plays sort-of-conservative (if not real conservative) while governing.

    The myth of success through centrism comes from them, but also from the idiotic "grade school civics" concept that politics is a simple left-right vector, and people vote for the one closest to themselves.  Thus if the Republicans are out on the right, the center is closer to more people.  This is not how people vote, and is certainly isn't how you motivate people to get out and vote!  With fewer than 2/3 of American adults actually voting, motivation is a bigger tool than proximity on a mythical vector.  But the "NewDs" use it as an excuse.  It has no clothes.

    •  I had always understood Clinton owed his first (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tony Situ

      term to Perot, as Ross had drawn votes primarily from Bush the First.  I voted for him, though I would never have voted Republican.  In any case, a quick trip over to Wikipedia shows that HRP's effect was more of a wash with perhaps a slightly larger draw from conservatives that would have more likely voted for BTF:

      A detailed analysis of voting demographics revealed that Perot's support drew heavily from across the political spectrum, with 20% of his votes coming from self-described liberals, 27% from self-described conservatives, and 53% coming from self-described moderates. Economically, however, the majority of Perot voters (57%) were middle class, earning between $15,000 and $49,000 annually, with the bulk of the remainder drawing from the upper middle class (29% earning more than $50,000 annually).[38] Exit polls also showed that Ross Perot drew 38% of his vote from Bush, and 38% of his vote from Clinton, while the rest of his voters would have stayed home had he not been on the ballot.
      Thank you Wikipedia.

      -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

      Why must we struggle to protect the accomplishments of Democrats of the past from Democrats of the present? -- cal2010

      by 84thProblem on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:31:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the analysis detailed in wikipedia, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        84thProblem

        an anaylisis detailed by many, is dead wrong.

        I remember it well.
        HW was riding high in the polls based on winning the Gulf War.  He was at 90% approval rating.  It scared the "big boys" of the Dems (Cuomo, Gore, Gephardt, etc), so the only Dems that threw their hats into the ring were the "seven dwarves" (that was the term the MSM mocked them with).

        HW was going to coast to easy victory, then out of nowhere this Perot guy comes along, with his main issue being the deficit, but also he appealed to those frustrated with the two-party system in general and wanted to shake things up, and thought it might be great to have an independent president (like the first president was).  What happened is that Perot got as high as 42% in the polls, and most of that came from HW supporters, which was just a case of mathematics.  HW was at 90% approval rating, and his initial polling for re-election was in the 60s, so when Perot got up to 42%, it was just by simple math that most of that came from HW.

        But then Perot ran into problems, as the MSM began to "scrutinize" him, and it seemed like every day the NYT would have a new hit piece against him (sometimes fair, sometimes bullshit), and Perot's numbers started to decline.  But a funny thing about his numbers declining, the people that left Perot, most of which had come form HW, didn't immediately go back to HW.  It was like, "Well, Perot's candidacy gave us 'permission' to leave HW, now we're leaving Perot, but let's check out this other guy before going back to HW."

        Most of Perot's former supporters remained "undecided" rather than immediately go to HW or Clinton.  Then, just before the Democratic National Convention, Perot dropped out of the race, and said "The Democratic Party has revitalized itself," which many took as an implicit endorsement of Clinton, and Perot's followers overwhelmingly went to Clinton rather than HW.
        That led to Clinton getting a HUGE convention bump (I think the biggest I'd ever seen), an a pretty solid one, not an ephemeral "spike".

        Later, the Clinton and HW campaigns sent emissaries to Perot to beg for his endorsement.  I still recall Nancy Pelosi (an up an coming protégé of Boxer at the time) making the pilgrimage to Perot, hat in hand, to try to get him to formally endorse Clinton.  I forget who HW sent to pay homage to Perot.  But Perot retained his neutrality.

        Then, right before the debates, Perot announced that he was resuming his campaign.  At THAT point, he did begin to reclaim significant support (though smaller than he had months before), and the support he got was bled fairly equally from Clinton and HW supporters, such that exit polls later indicated that Perot got comparable support from those that otherwise would have voted for Clinton and those that otherwise would have voted for HW.  That's where the "Perot was a wash" analysis comes from.  But if you look at what happened months before, it was clear that Perot hurt HW far more than he hurt Clinton, for Perot was the guy that opened the door for a chunk of HW voters to leave him in the first place.  Those voters, who never would have thought to take the direct path of leaving HW to support one of the "seven dwarves" Democrats, ended up taking an indirect path of leaving HW to support Clinton, a path that took them through the Perot rest stop first.

        That's was my analysis at the time, and I stand by it.  Had it not been for Perot, I believe HW would have won re-election (even with the mild recession going on at the time, a recession that was showing signs of recovery by the time the election occurred).

        •  Thanks for your analysis! (0+ / 0-)

          My memory sucks, and at that time of my life I was far more concerned with supporting my young family than politics.

          -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

          Why must we struggle to protect the accomplishments of Democrats of the past from Democrats of the present? -- cal2010

          by 84thProblem on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 02:24:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Damning With Faint Praise (0+ / 0-)

      Yeah, he was a great politician. That's the sad part.

  •  Liberals vs centrists (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Allen, chuckvw, k9disc

    Liberals ARE centrists.

    "The oligarchs could give a rodent's rectum about so-called social issues. They are fine with down gays, women, and minorities as long as said groups tow the corporate line and will serve as imperium's tool of militarism." -- Phil Rockstroh

    by Sagebrush Bob on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 04:38:42 PM PDT

  •  I'm not sure I would call McGovern being too (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tony Situ, Catte Nappe

    liberal for most of America a myth. I think the man's campaign had many problems besides being at least more liberal then most of America (or being too liberal same difference to me)

    Personally I don't get the 'argument' each district, each race should be both on the merits and on the populace being represented. That naturally to me means that some districts will favor a more liberal outlook then others. That said I think the more we can prove government works the more and faster America will move back to liberalism. I think the biggest myth of 'centrism' and even 'conservatism' is the 40 year old lie of 'the scarcest words are I am from the government and I am hear to help'

    In the time that I have been given,
    I am what I am
    Shop Kos Katalogue or the Parrot gets it

    by duhban on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 04:53:54 PM PDT

    •  Yes, proving government can work (4+ / 0-)

      to better the lives of Americans IS key.  Too bad Dems (with the possible exception of Eliz Warren) are not making the case for the value of government anymore.  Certainly not our current Dem party leadership who seem content to let the Republicans set the agenda.  With two of the three main levers of power in Washington why are Democrats debating an austerity agenda, and why is our president offering up substantive cuts to successful government programs like Social Security?  Our party's failure to prove the value of government or even present a case for goverment is exactly why some of us are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the Democratic Party.  

  •  the proper response to the ... (5+ / 0-)

    ...Republican shift to the right would be a democratic shift to the left to keep the center stationary.  But that is not what has been done.  The democrats move to the right by the same amount to keep the distance between the parties the same even though the center movers to the right.

    We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

    by delver rootnose on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:13:56 PM PDT

  •  This is a well written diary and you make some (3+ / 0-)

    valid points but there's something you're leaving out: moderate Democratic voters.  Yes, they do exist, hence why you have swing districts.  There are still a lot of old school Democrats who are socially conservative but fiscally liberal.  My home state of PA is a perfect example.  I want the party to by more progressive, for sure, and I'll settle with centrists like Joe Donnelly in states like Indiana if it means progress and stopping right-wing extremists from winning but it's moderate Dem voters that play a role here.  

    See I understand how centrists think.  The media can portray liberals in a bad light and the right has just gone too crazy.  But some times the left takes itself way too seriously and instead of making common sense arguments for our policies we tend to let our emotions overtake our arguments.  We're passionate about what we believe in and want to make the country better but at times it comes off as us trying to be high and mighty and shame everyone who doesn't see things our way.  So moderates might agree with a lot of what liberals believe in but they just don't want to be associated with us.  There were a few races where OWS candidates tried to run in Dem primaries and lost because even though a lot of people liked what Occupy was doing, it's message was lost to the very people it was fighting for.  We also need to get real that guys like McGovern, Mondale and Dukakis were not winning candidates.  Their hearts were in the right place but they weren't candidates people could connect with.  Plus you have to remember that Clinton was running after a decade of Reagan/Bush.  Reagan's impact on the country made us a nation of distracted consumers.  That's what we are folks.  Look how long the lines are every time the new iPhone comes out.  And we wanted everything cheaper and faster.  I know there are people here who think Clinton caused the demise of the party.  i disagree with that.  Matt Taibbi said that once the Dems got their asses handed to them in 1984, they had to suck up to Wall Street.  And I disagree that someone like Mario Cuomo or Jerry Brown could've beaten Clinton in the 92 primaries.  Clinton had an amazing personality that could connect with voters.  Not to mention, he raised taxes on the rich and banned assault weapons and tried to push though a health care plan that was more to the left than Obamacare.  He may have passed NAFTA but lets not forget that Robert Reich at the time even argued for it.  Now I have been reading Clinton's book and there's some Simpson-Bowles loving stuff in there that I don't like but get Clinton to talk about the Progressive Caucus' budget and he is all about it.  So Clinton's not as evil as some people here like to make him out.  Even he admits that signing the repeal of Glass-Steagall was a huge mistake that he regret.  See we need to ask ourselves, what really changed from the 80s until now?  The party or society?  I'm going with society because Reagan was able to make people who needed the government to hate it.  When you've been brainwashed for that long, it's kind of hard to get people on your side 100%.  

    The flaw of us on the left is we get so fixated on getting liberals elected to the federal level that we don't spend a lot of time on the local level.  That's how the right was successful.  You want better Democrats in D.C., you need better Democrats on a local level first.  I know people here complain about people like Mary Landrieu and Joe Manchin but look at where they're from.  But Manchin and Landrieu can come in handy when we need their votes.  Or even someone like Mark Begich winning in a state like Alaska.  You may not like him on his stances towards background checks and drilling but when a Democrat from a red state is pushing for a Social Security plan that is way more to the left of anything Bernie Sanders or Tom Harkin have to offer, that's a sign of real progress.  As for Obama, I am not going to jump on the "he's a corporatist Republican who hates old people and is destroying the party!!!!" band wagon.  Without Obama, lets not forget, that the world would never have met Elizabeth Warren.  Now I have had my complaints and issues with the President but the reason I write about the Senate races and Governor races and I am willing to say something nice about guys like Pryor every now and then is to get the community to understand the country better.  See America is more like 50 little countries but what I am discovering is that there are things around the country that unite us.  Like in South Dakota, a lot of people want to write off Rick Weiland because he's not Blue Dog Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.  Weiland is running on a populist campaign aimed at protecting Social Security and Medicare and getting money out of politics.  That's a guy the whole community should be helping win.  I want ti highlight progress around the country and remind people here why we still need these Democrats and it's for many, many reasons besides the Republicans are just worse.  

    It's not as hard as some people might think to convince moderate Democratic voters that progressive Democrats are better options.  if I could get a number of my family members who were willing to hold their noses and vote for Arlen Specter in the 2010 primary to switch their votes to Joe Sestak, this community can do the same.  I was able to do it by not going into any flowery speeches or guilt tripping or anything like that.  i did it by making the argument that Sestak had the better shot at beating Toomey than Specter.  unfortunately he didn't beat Toomey they but he will in 2016 but the polling confirmed that Specter would've still lost and Toomey would've won by a bigger margin.  Moderate voters are deep down progressives.  We just need to give them reasons to come out of hiding and we do that by being persuasive and welcoming.  Not preachy and snarky.  That's my two cents.  

    Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

    by poopdogcomedy on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:06:01 PM PDT

    •  You Make a Good Argument (0+ / 0-)

      It will never make me a fan of Bill Clinton, but I think you're right that progressives need to be practical in their approach. What I fault Clinton for, however, is his running on a campaign that undercut the liberal elements of the party. That got him in office, but the lingering effect is that Americans still believe the conservatives are right. They aren't, and it hurts the country to follow their policy.

      The person at the top of the ticket must be an unashamed liberal. There are thousands of candidates running at the same time in down-ballot elections. The person at the top must make the best possible case for our core beliefs, which are inherently liberal because it's the Democratic Party. They create cover for all those other candidates to run on more liberal platforms. Running as a pseudo-conservative might get you the White House, but it is the death knell for the party. If we hadn't had Clinton run as a quasi-Republican, we wouldn't have had George W. Bush in office.

      What the presidential candidate says matters. They have to carry the flag. If they aren't carrying my flag, I'm not going to vote for them, plain and simple.

      •  The person must have some gravitas too. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greenbell, Liberal Thinking

        For example, Kucinich was an unashamed liberal, but was a joke.  Had he been actually nominated, McCain (who wouldn't have thrown the Palin Hail Mary) would have won every state probably.  Hell, DC would have been in play.
        So just being an "unashamed liberal" isn't enough, the candidate also must be one that the voters will take seriously.

        •  That's Not Really Kucinich (0+ / 0-)

          Kucinich was not a joke. Only the caricature of him in the media was a joke. The actual Kucinich had plenty of gravitas, and given his policies without the vitriol of the press the voters would have preferred him over McCain.

          It isn't a matter of being an unashamed liberal. Liberal candidates need to break through the media image and get directly to the voters. The sad thing about Bill Clinton is that he had the skill to do that, but he didn't carry the liberal banner. He had the ability to get the liberal message to the American people, but didn't do it.

          What I'm looking for is someone who can do that. Eliot Spitzer has that ability. I think that's why they took him down. At what point does visiting a prostitute involve the FBI? That happens when you're a dangerous politician, one that might challenge the establishment and bring a bit of liberalism to the national level.

  •  Yup. Centrism cost Gore the WH, and allowed the SC (0+ / 0-)

    to install Bush.

  •  I'm for Entitlement reform... (4+ / 0-)

    ..in the sense that I am all for reforming the wealthy entitled in this country. We need to reform entitlements by;

    1) Raising Tax rates on the top 10% by taxing them 70% on their wealth on everything over $5 million dollars (I'm feeling generous).

    2) Ending all oil and gas subsidies.

    3) Cutting the Pentagon budget at least in half. Then we'll only be 25% of the world's spending on "defense" instead of 50%.

    4) Adding Tariffs to products not made in the U.S.

    5) Raising Corporate taxes to a minimum of 50% without loopholes (simplifying the tax code) and only giving them tax breaks for behaving like "good" U.S. Citizens and removing their charter if they're bad.

    As for the entitlements like S.S., I'll believe the people who claim to want to "reform" it when they begin "reforming" their own paychecks downwards. After all, in that context, a paycheck is an entitlement. So let them begin with themselves. Let them not receive any paycheck, then get back to me on how much more "efficiently" they're running their lives.

    Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

    by Alumbrados on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:37:53 PM PDT

  •  Why I Didn't Vote for Clinton (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell

    The problem with "entitlement reform" is that the reason you're entitled is that you deserve what you're getting. I can't see the attraction of it.

    As for Clinton, his moderate stance is exactly why I didn't vote for him. If he'd been a real liberal (from the Democratic wing of the party, for example), I probably would have. But as a pseudo-conservative, he was not a desirable pick. The Democrats, frankly, could have probably done better with someone that actually represented them.

    Democrats made a deal with the devil when they elected Clinton. They got things like "welfare reform". What this means (since we didn't and don't have welfare) was a time limit on aid to children living in poverty. In other words, we just abandoned them, as if that were an advancement in society. If you were starving as a child that wasn't enough to entitle you to aid from society--past a certain point.

    There is nothing wrong with liberal politics that can't be cured by someone running a strong campaign. The American people want a liberal President. They voted for Obama with the clear understanding (misunderstanding, as we all know) that he was a liberal. The Republicans made every effort to convince the voters Obama was a liberal, and they voted for him anyway. They prefer by a substantial margin what he says he'll deliver to what the "conservative" Republicans say they will deliver.

    The other problem with centrism is that it's the worst possible public policy. The best policy is progressive, because to the degree it succeeds it solves problem. The next best is conservative, because it doesn't solve the problem, but it doesn't spend any money on it. The worst possible option is the centrist one. If you choose that, you don't solve the problem but you spend money on it.

    But all of this is, in a way, beside the point. The idea is that you can win by moving to the center. You can't, but doesn't matter one twit. What we want, and I assure you you're with me on this, is what we think is best for the country. Winning, when the "victory" consists of what's emphatically not best for the country isn't of any use to us.

    Clinton's victory didn't enhance the Democratic Party. It set it back, allowing it to move more firmly into the grasp of the greedy. Following on after that lesson is lunacy, in the most egregious sense. It's clear that it's crazy, based on our experience with Clinton, so people don't have the excuse that "they didn't know".

    •  I'm no fan of Clinton's triangulations, (0+ / 0-)

      but it's simply silly to say that the Democrats could have won with "someone who actually represented them".

      This was a situation where politics triumphed over policy. Clinton is, for better or worse, the most gifted politician of my generation. What other Democrat can you name who could have won in 1992?

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 03:50:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  clinton/obama/dems would have been pushed left but (0+ / 0-)

    the left has chosen to ignore the right's best political/media tool- 1200 think tank-coordinated radio stations blasting propaganda all day to 50 mil americans a week.

    and not only pushed left, the center would be considerably further left and they would have been able to make some of the changes progressives wanted.

    there are plenty of financial opportunities for the moneymakers  and entrepreneurs in progress. the dinosaurs are still amortizing their old shit and shit ideas because the left allowed them a free speech free ride from the loudest soapboxes in history. we waste trillions on wars and fossil fuels subsidies while the green/smart alternatives are marginalized.

    but for RW talk radio the clintons would have us a lot closer to single payer and energy sanity, there would be no bush and iraq, and the 'loyal' opposition wouldn't be insane- the party of limbaugh.

    we let them stand on every corner and stump in the country and scream all day that liberals are sluts and liars and thieves and traitors. we let them swiftboat and attack our best and brightest and distort our ideals and methods.

    and we just turned up the ipods and walked by. and we continue to analyze politics as if that shit didn't happen and isn't happening.

    with talk radio as their invisible superweapon they have been able to short circuit democracy and stop most progress.

    that is why centrism and corporatism wins and while 70% want progress the 1% can use 20% to do as well as 50%.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 07:22:35 PM PDT

    •  THe left didn't ignore radio, indeed, the left tri (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      certainot

      tried to create its own liberal radio talk shows, but the effort failed (I refer to Air America).  But there are still liberal talk shows out there.  Stephanie Miller for instance (though she's called dismissed as DLC-lite by lots of progressives now, which is absurd. :/)

      •  it's a well protected monopoly that gives the 1% a (0+ / 0-)

        head start on everything they do. it allows them to create made-to-order constituencies of idiots around their dollars.

        it is ignored - there is no written record of the coordinated messaging that can distract us with bullshit like benghazi or convince the tea party that default would be a good thing, etc.

        there is no organized opposition to RW radio by the dem party or the left's organizations, and that's why they get to create and keep their alternate realities and keep kicking internet ass.

        air am was actually sabotaged, there's a documentary about it. randi rhodes talks about it occasionally.

        and don't believe the right's BS about 95% of talk radio listeners prefer to listen to the wit and wisdom of the likes of limbaugh and hannity. it's a monopoly, the left ignores it, and a major reason we're in this mess.

        This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

        by certainot on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:11:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  As Jesse Jackson Once Said... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sebastianguy99, lungfish, Catte Nappe

    ...it takes two wings to fly.

    I wish there was an end of these stale onslaughts on DKOS against "Third Wayers" or "Blue Dogs" or whomever fails the Democratic left wing's current litmus test of "true Democrat."

    And yes, I think the same of conservative Democrats when they do the same to our Democratic friends on the left.

    The Democratic Party has always been the party of the big tent.  Yes, it sometimes leads to chaos, but it is also a strength.  

    It is the side with the biggest tent that wins elections.

    Labels are also deceiving.  Al Gore, for example, is touted as a Third Way type.  But a couple of years later, he was a hero to the left for his early opposition to the second Gulf War.  Carter may have been called Mr. Conservative Democratic by some, but many of his positions (especially Post Presidency) have been far to the left of any current Democratic leader.

    And it was not very long ago that on this very blog, Barack Obama was trumpeted as the Great Left Hope against the Evil Clinton Revival.

    Instead of chasing the next shiny thing, we should accept that successful politicians will always practice a certain - ahem - flexibility.  Not that we should not clamor and pressure.  But at the end of the day, what matters is getting people to the polls to pull the lever for the best candidate on the ballot - not the best candidate of our dreams.

    "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

    by FDRDemocrat on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 08:04:37 PM PDT

  •  Its best to be an extremist. (0+ / 0-)

    There are CORRECT answers to many of our problems today.

    I forget where I heard the argument. But if you a heading towards a cliff in a car with no breaks. If one person yells left and another person yells right. Its not a good compromise by continuing to head straight.

    Being truly balanced requires someone to be willing to fully take on a particular position irrespective of the original supporters.

    I fully back Obama and the democratic party even if they do have their problems i tend to agree with them 90%.  But still every now and than the democratic part gets it wrong and the republican party gets it more right. That 10% of the time (if that much) being an honest citizen you should be willing to advocate for that position.

  •  Till the end of time... (0+ / 0-)

    This point will probably be argued on Daily Kos until the end of time, so I hesitate to get involved yet again.  All I'll do for now is mention that I don't think it's fair to call Clinton all (or mostly) centrist and not liberal, as I addressed in this earlier diary:
    http://wantsomewood.blogspot.com/...

    The diarist presents the anti-Clinton/pro-Dean side of the argument quite well, although I have to add that it's not exactly the first time that argument's been made on this site.

    "Optimism is better than despair." --Jack Layton, the late Canadian MP, liberal, and Christian.

    by lungfish on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:48:22 AM PDT

  •  In 2010, I predicted a moderate Republican would (0+ / 0-)

    win in 2012.

    I predicted his name would be Barack Obama.  In poll after poll, when you remove labels and just ask Should government do X?  the liberal position ends up being favored by a significant majority.

    The right has gone so far of the deep-end that Centrist is the new Socialist.

  •  Dems lost their way when they lost laborers.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    demjim

    I live in Tarrant County, Texas (Fort Worth).  All through the 50's and 60's, Tarrant was reliably Democratic.  There were several big unionized plants--General Dynamics, Bell Helicopter, General Motors--and working people believed, rightly, that the Democratic party was dedicated to their interests.

    Why and how that changed is a very complicated story, and has been exhaustively discussed in any number of excellent books and articles.  But the bottom line, in my opinion, was the evil genius of Richard Nixon and his Republican progeny in persuading working people that the Democratic party's principal interest was in giving their money to unemployed Blacks on welfare, and giving their jobs to Black affirmative action beneficiaries.

    Everything else flows from this. Even unions wavered in their support for Democrats.  George Meany had no use for Hubert Humphrey, and the Teamsters actually supported Nixon. And even as unions saw that they were wrong to waver, they shrunk in size and influence.  Labor is now reliably Democratic again, but Labor isn't what it was in 1961.

    As I said, Labor has returned to the fold, but the DLC model didn't return the favor.  White working class people have nowhere near the reasons to believe the Democratic party cares about them that their parents and grandparents did.

    I applaud the diversity in the electorate, and will gladly accept the new Democratic majorities it will bring.  But if we really want to take back the House, and the state legislatures, we need to take back working class whites. The Republicans don't care about their interests, just their votes.  The R's see their future as increasing the number of white votes they get.  Ironically, I see at least part of the D's future as exactly the same.

  •  Obama still won in 2012 when the GOP attacked (0+ / 0-)

    Obama as too Liberal and a Socialist. The RW bought it and guess what - they lost anyway.

    Us liberals laughed but we won anyway.

    Democrats just need to OWN their issues. The public has caught up to us and we need to brag about what our CORE issues are and not be afraid of our own shadow.

    Fighting Liberal at
    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” --Gandhi:

    by smokey545 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:40:03 AM PDT

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