Arguing the lesson of the midterms
Myself and DemGorilla have had a spirited back and forth on the issue of what the midterm election results suggest as far as where the Democrats should go from here.
There are two schools of thought in this, one trying to point to certain narrow results as proof that moving the party to the right is imperative and the only way to win.
My thinking is that this isn't indicated at all, and it's only a further attempt by those who'd be more comfortable with the Dems morphing into a sort of "Republican Light" by trying to spin the results to support their goal.
Instead, I've read just as much "evidence" where many races were won by candidates who did not cow-tow to right wing positions, and as a matter of fact, even candidates shoved forward as poster boys of "conservative" Dems such as Jon Tester in Montana won while holding decidedly "unconservative" views, such as being pro-choice, anti-Bush tax cut, anti-Patriot Act, for renewable energy, and on and on.
Go read our back and forth in the threads below if you have the time. It might set the stage, so to speak.
Since nothing I could say would seem to sink in with DemGorilla and he simply kept restating his views like a robot, I realized that I just must not be getting my point across, which isn't too big a surprise as it's often a big challenge for me.
So I made this crude graphic to make my point which appears below.
DemGorilla continually advocates a decidedly conservative Democratic line as the only hope of the party. I think this is hogwash and actually will lead to the Dems falling into the same morass that they wallowed in all these many years, being labeled as not standing for anything, wishy-washy, inept, "say anything", weenies.
A large part of the Rovian sucess with a bonehead candidate like Bush is portraying him as "plain speaking", "bold", "decisive" (the decider), etc. People didn't so much bother with what he was saying or if they agreed, they just liked someone who knew where he stood and said so strongly. They wanted someone who stood by their ideology and beliefs, even if they may not always agree. You knew where Bush stood on just about anything.
The Dems, in trying to be all things to all people, and the bone-headed DLC and other long-failed D.C. consultants had Dem candidates all over the map, appearing plainly as mushy, neither here-nor-there nothings. You never knew where they'd stand, and maybe it would change in a few hours.
But a large part of this misconception was due to the massive and skillful manipulation of public opinion over the years by the right wing.
They'd demonized liberalism to the point where Dems were scared to death to even utter the word, let alone admit to being one. Even worse, they even had Democrats themselves operating on the basis of this false distorted image of Democrats. Democrats would actually repeat the right wing talking points in their arguments, thus giving them the validity they in no way deserved.
The right wing noise machine also suceeded, unfortunately, in convincing a lot of party wonks and hacks that the country was much more conservative that it actually was.
These consultants, pollsters, and strategists listened to the drivel poured out on cable TV by pundits who got their talking points from cocktail parties or the Drudge Report or Limbaugh, who in turn got their stories directly from the RNC, thus creating a circular loop of disinformation. They poured over the results of a few hundred people, many lying to poll takers, and based huge decisions on them. And they got completely off track, and the result was the near destruction of the Dem party.
Now those of this view want to go right down that same path and into oblivion again.
They seem convinced by polls, elections, and the very right wing spin that has affected so many of the public, that the country is definitely very conservative, and therefore, the Dems better abandon their cherished principles and out-Republican the Republicans. To fail to do so is certain death, they say.
Their god is the perceived "center", though they never bother defining it to any degree. Whatever this "center" is is in the eye of the beholder of course, but they throw the term around like it's an objective fact. It's nearly meaningless in reality. It exists, but claiming to know where it is is dubious at best.
And importantly, they ignore the fact that politicians and campaigns can CHANGE this real and perceived center, despite the overwhelming evidence that the right and Republicans most definitely changed the perceived center by an enormous degree, so much so that these Dems themselves are working off of THAT center, rather than the actual one.
Dem Gorilla lauds Rahm Emanuel for supposedly fielding a slate of very conservative candidates, and demands that this is the way the party must continue or face certain doom. This is crap. He didn't field candidates that were particularly conservative, so much as he chose not to back candidates which were decidedly on the left end of the spectrum.
It doesn't take a genius to realize that running a Dennis Kucinich in Montana isn't a bright idea. Yet Emanuel is lionized for his brilliant "conservative" strategy. What bull.
The massive decade long propaganda campaign by the right and it's effect in distorting and warping the political landscape must be taken into account in all this as well.
It gets down to how voters self-identify themselves. There remain millions of "Reagan Democrats" for lack of a better term, or in other words middle class or working class people out there who, through the efforts of Limbaugh et. al. have ended up self-identifying themselves as Republicans for many years, despite the fact that the Republicans most decidedly do NOT represent their interests at all, dispite the tid-bits of red meat thrown their way, and actually hurt them in many cases, and despite the fact that if the truth be known, they actually AGREED with Democratic policies, thought they often didn't realize it. All they knew was that they definitely DID NOT like the false and scary image of the Dems that they'd been fed daily by the right.
And after 9-11, the right wing succeeded in convincing people that straying from the Republican line was a traitorous act.
The right was overtaken by zealots in many respects and drove their agenda way, way, WAY to the right. Yet the media gave these radicals the appearance of legitimacy and presented them as not radical at all, lest they be bludgeoned for "liberal bias".
So people started to think this stuff was legitimate and asssumed these radical views enjoyed majority support. This was never the case. The media and PR campaigns were massive and funded with hundreds of millions of dollars to keep up the charade. People in the middle were sheepishly drawn along with it all, especially in the wake of 9-11 where fear made it impossible for many of them to dare even think of saying they were a Dem or question what they knew was wrong for fear of being instantly labeled a commie traitor terorist lover.
But it's worn off now, and when confronted by the sheer magnitude of Republican hypocrisy, incompetence, corruption, and just plain stupidity, they're unable to avoid realizing that maybe Republicans aren't so cool after all.
Now back to DemGorilla and those who think like him. These people are still operating by the stats and figures of the past decades. They have accepted as an article of faith that the vast majority out there in the "heartland" are all conservative as hell. I'd say it's 50/50 at best, and those numbers could very well be swayed by some committed and effective Dems.
Why do they accept that the population are mostly right wingers? Well, because a lot of people listen to Limbaugh, they tell pollsters that they're conservative, a lot of people who don't know squat about politics or the world around them still think they're Republicans because people like Limbaugh actually paid attention to them and catered to their base instincts and gullibility and TOLD them they were Republicans, and TOLD them that Democrats weren't just the opposition, they were downright immoral, corrupt, horrible people. And the rubes ate it up.
While they may self-identify as Republicans and even adopt conservative views on some issues, the fact is that it's largely due to peer pressure, generated by media pressure from the right. And they can be swayed to the Dem side just as easily as they were conned into thinking they were Republicans in the first place.
Only once they're back with the Dems, they'll stay, because it won't be all a crock of crap and hot air, but rather actual actions and accomplishments which will actually benefit them or with which they agree. In other words, it will sound and appear honest to them, because it will be. And it will appeal to their better natures, not their suceptibility to hate and demonize others.
If given the chance, if presented with Dem candidates who clearly and UNAPPOLOGETICALLY explained and laid out Democratic positions and why they're best for them and why these positions agree with their religious beliefs and morality far more than Republican positions, these people would nearly instantly switch to telling pollsters that they're Democrats.
Even with the massive media campaign to warp and distort what Democrats are and what they advocate and stand for, polls still showed a majority of Americans agreed by far with Dem policy positions, as long as the policies weren't labeled as Democratic or liberal!
So...DemGorilla and those of his ilk continue to chase the mirage created by the right, constantly striving to move to the right and capture some of that Republican Mojo somehow, and they'll never, ever find it.
What they will do if Dems actually follow that path, is lose the party entirely to a mish-mash of jumbled up positions all over the place until no one knows what the hell the Dems stand for at all, and the line between Dem and Republicans will be blurred beyond recognition, as if it's not blurry enough already.
The public will once again perceieve the Dems as mushy-minded, weak, not willing to stand up for their beliefs, and not really sure just what the hell their beliefs are anyway, and will run to the "strong" Republicans, no matter how bad Republican policies are for the average person and the country.
In the crude chart above, I hope people can see what I believe has happened. You can move the lines a little in any direction, but the argument still holds. (I firmly believe that this chart is generally accurate, but of course, many may feel the lines are entirely in the wrong places.)
The Republicans, in being effectively hi-jacked by theocons and neocons, corporate greed and influence, Israeli conservatives, imperialists, and the rest, is in a position far further to the extreme right than the media, the public, or the DemGorillas of the world even realize or recognize. They think it's all hunky-dory. They're not aware of the goofy end-times theological nuts who have huge influence over policy. They're not aware of a lot of things that would curl people's hair if they knew just how nutty some very influential people in this movement truly are. (and that's another reason hearings need to be held, so the public will learn this).
That's mistake number one. Failing to realize and come to grips with just how far to the right the Republican party has swung.
Secondly, due to this misconception, the DLC types (for lack of a better term) make a large mistake in where they perceive the center to be.
In pouring over all their skewed polls and going by abberant election results, running scared, they all mistakenly place the so-called "center" much further to the right than it actually is.
Thirdly, they have a truly oversized fear of liberals themselves, thinking that if it weren't for them, (the conserva-crats), the way-out wavy gravy communists would all of a sudden appear on the floor of the House with bongs in hand demanding that all military uniforms be made from hemp. It's kind of unpleasant to hear supposed Democrats who sound exactly like they've listened to too much Limbaugh and O'Reilly and have bought the stupid cartoonish image of the Democratic party as chock full of pie-in-the-sky radical liberals. That perception simply has no relation to reality, even though it's been sold and bought as reality by far too many people, including many Democrats.
I suspect that this branch of Dems is rather country clubbish and wants a brand of Democrat which would continue the broken system of corporate influence and a system awash in money for influence. If left to their way, the Democrats would rapidly descend into the type of plutocracy demanding special breaks that the Republicans presided over.
They're petrified of scaring off the conservative money sources they envy and the dollars they crave from them because these same donors cater to this warped view, and irrational fear of the mythical wild 60's liberal element of the Democratic party. Above all, these big donors are greedy and live in fear of giving up any of the special deals and breaks and exceptions that make them even more wealthy.
So these Dems are desperate to prove just how conservative they are, to woo the conservative campaign dollars to their side. They're thinking in terms of the old game with nothing new, nothing creative, and offering nothing new to the people of this country.
The DemGorilla's of the country in many respects are Dems in name only, and seem to desire nothing more than to capture the millions now donated to the Republicans. Get to the money, they seem to think, and the Dems will rule. Of course, never mind that we'd have to bastardize and pervert our priciples in the process, we can immitate the Republicans on that front too and smooth that over with massive PR and BS. (worked great for them, huh?)
DemGorilla writes like he thinks that the greatest danger to the Dems, and the reason they've lost for so long, is that they're too far to the left. Again, very wrong, and feeding in once again to the Limbaugh's of the world.
Look at the Dems. Really look at them. Don't look at the favorite whipping boys and girls of the right. Ignore the cartoonish BS they spew, because it's just that, BS.
But look at the Levins, the Bidens, the Murthas, the Durbins, and on and on and on. They're not crazy irrational lefties! I mean, let's stick to reality. Even Hilary Clinton, who somehow has become the equivelent of Stalin, Castro, Mao, and Hitler all rolled into one, is in reality pretty firmly to the right of center.
The party as a whole is not by any stretch of the imagination liberal or far left despite the yammering of the right wing noise machine. The party and their candidates truly reflect the views and desires of a large majority of this country, as was shown by this past election and many polls before that.
The key is to think beyond and outside the hype!
Again to the chart.
The Dems, though portrayed relentlessly (without explanation I might add) as whacko leftys, are truly much closer to the actual "center" politically than the Republicans.
The Republicans are WAY off to the right, led there by radical fundementalists, economic nuts, neo-con idiots, corporate interests, and, of course, Rove, Cheney, and Bush.
The Dems may look far left by comparison, but it's an optical illusion, and one which the right is quite happy to perpetuate. And it truly pisses me off when some Dems willingly aid them in this effort by swallowing their images of the Dems themselves and advocating at every turn a move to the right.
But as shown on the chart, the Dems are damn near dead center already. They don't need to move much at all. They're fine!
The Americans are going to be very pleased with the change in D.C., and the only impediment is going to be the continuing attack against them by the 500,000 right wing media outlets and a press which will gleefully jump on any stumbles or signs of failure.
But the Dems will show the people the power of hope, and the power of actually putting the needs of the middle class in front of the greed of corporations and individuals. And above all, a return to REALITY.
The Dems don't need to shift their views to accomodate the people in the center. They're already there!
Any movement too far to the right is moving away from the center and dooming the Dems to being seen as more interested in power than principle. And perhaps more importantly, it leaves over half the country with no representation of their views at all, as has been the case for a dozen years or more.
This imbalance will always tend to be corrected, and if the Dems are stuck to the right of center, it won't be good for them either. A third party may indeed step into the vacuum.
Instead of catering to far-right wing views held by a true minority in this country, Dems should instead stand up for their positions and bring the people around to their views. Most people are there already, and many more would come around if they were presented with something other than the rampant propaganda blitzkrieg they're subjected to from the right. I see this changing, in more liberal views presented, as well as more commercial sucess for shows with a more centrist viewpoint.
You can literally watch all the right wing pundits and talk show gasbags changing horses in mid-stream. It's amazing to hear them now claim that they were never right wing hacks to begin with.
So why should the Dems give up this ideological ground by reinforcing right wing positions on issues, issues which wouldn't even be issues if it were not for a relatively miniscule group of zealots? Does anyone think that the country would be all in a lather over gay marriage if it weren't for a few multi-million dollar fundementalist organizations blowing it up into a sham crisis? Would there even be a murmur of protest about using clumps of cells that are already being discarded in furthering research into cures for horrible debilitating diseases if it weren't for a tiny minority of fundementalists having influence far out of proportion to their numbers? Heck no.
Even people who don't like abortion probably are more likely to accept that it's an individual choice and wouldn't want a return to back alley abortions. So why pander to the zealots who want to outlaw it altogether? It makes no sense, either out of principle or from a purely political viewpoint.
The time to stand firm is now. No one needs to keep pandering to the right. It's time to show the American people that they were Dems all along.
So there. Rant over.
Don't know if my point was made any clearer or sharper, but I gave it a shot.
Feel free to share your views on the issue.