The Choice

Look, I can understand if you get frustrated with Barack Obama. Like all politicians, he’s imperfect. He has taken some positions that are completely wrong (his education policy leaps to mind; his foreign policy has been at best a mixed bag), and he certainly hasn’t done a good job of articulating the counterargument to the nihilism that defines current Republican policy. I believe that he’s better in many ways than his liberal detractors think, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect, it doesn’t mean he never deserves criticism, and it doesn’t mean you can’t state that frustration and still be a supporter of liberalism. Indeed, sometimes being a supporter of liberalism requires it.

But when you take the next step, and declare that you’d rather vote for Michele Bachmann than support Barack Obama for president, you have completely lost the thread.

Barack Obama is imperfect, but he isn’t terrible. Even if one takes the most unfair emoprog criticism of Obama — that he’s just a corporatist drone trying to prop up our corporate overlords — he is still not working to make things worse than they are. At worst, he’s just trying to maintain the (admittedly bad) status quo.

Bachmann and her ilk are not satisfied with the status quo. They want to make things worse. Much worse. Bachmann wants to destroy what programs we have to help the poor, the aged, the sick, and replace them with nothing. She wants to give corporations more latitude to do whatever they will, to give the rich more tax breaks so they can become richer. She wants to destroy the right of women to control their reproductive destinies, of gays and lesbians and bisexuals to love the person they want to love, of transgender individuals to exist, and of non-Christians to freely exercise their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

Obama, at worst, seeks to maintain the United States as it is. Bachmann seeks to destroy it, and replace it with something that resembles the Republic of Gilead. These are not minor differences. This is the choice between America and not-America. Between our existence or our destruction.

If you can look at Barack Obama and Michele Bachmann and think that there is any choice — any choice whatsoever — in who you support, you are quite simply not a liberal. If you are unwilling to fight against an existential threat to women’s rights, GLBT rights, religious liberty, and a basic social safety net, then what the hell are you willing to fight against?

Barack Obama is imperfect. I can understand being frustrated by him. I can understand even wanting to primary him with a “perfect” candidate, though I disagree strongly with the idea that such a candidate exists. But I cannot understand looking at a choice between Obama and any of the Republican candidates and thinking that the Republican would be better. The choice that progressives and liberals have is not between perfect and evil. It is between Obama and evil. And if you’re willing to choose evil to spite Obama — well, in my mind, that makes you as bad as the evil itself.

 

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41 Responses to The Choice

  1. 1
    sanabituranima says:

    Deleted because I misread the post and said something silly.

    The link is broken by the way.

  2. 2
    marmalade says:

    I loved this by columnist Charles M. Blow in the NYT Saturday:

    I must confess that every time Representative Michele Bachmann uttered the phrase “as president of the United States” during Thursday’s Republican presidential debate I blacked out a little bit, so I’m sure that I missed some things.

  3. 3
    Citizen Pain says:

    As an Independent who leans Left-Progressive, there really is no Choice in whom to vote for. Obama may have my vote, but as many times as he’s trashed progressives, including in his choices of appointees for various positions, he’s thrown principles under the bus. Obama seems to want compromise over everything, failing to see how far to the Right this has shifted not only Obama but also the Democrats as a party. Keep steering to the Right and you end up driving in circles, and voters who are politically aware can see that this is not “moving forward”. This is not the Hope and Change we all voted for. We didn’t expect freaking miracles, after Bush, but we didn’t think Obama would end up giving the GOP pretty much whatever they wanted either. Major disappointment.

  4. 4
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Anyone know whether this Janis Rhodes is actually a person with a history of voting for Democrats?

  5. 5
    Jeff Fecke says:

    I’ll agree, some of Obama’s appointments suck. But the idea that Obama’s “end[ed] up giving the GOP pretty much whatever they wanted” is ludicrous. The GOP didn’t want a national health care program. They didn’t want the stimulus. They didn’t want DADT repealed. They did want a permanent extension to the Bush tax cuts (which they didn’t get). In the debt ceiling debate, they wanted draconian cuts to domestic programs (which they didn’t get). They’ve pushed for more laissez-faire policies toward corporations; Obama signed Dodd-Frank into law.

    Perfect? No. But Obama’s been at worst a moderate, and he’s given surprisingly little ground to the GOP, emboldened as they are. It’s just that Obama practices jujitsu in negotiations; he tends to win by “losing,” which isn’t particularly exciting. But it does a lot to advance progressive ideals, or at least hold the line.

  6. 6
    Hugh says:

    This is the choice between America and not-America.

    Wow, that’s the kind of vacuously patriotic non-argument I usually hear from people trying to convince me to vote for Bachman, not to vote against her.

  7. 7
    Jeff Fecke says:

    @Hugh –

    I don’t usually advance that argument. But in Bachmann’s case, it’s true. She has been working to make our country into a nation that is unrecognizable. Tim Pawlenty isn’t working to make America into not-America. (He’d be a disaster, but he doesn’t want to, say, eliminate First Amendment protections for religion.) Bachmann is.

  8. 8
    Meera says:

    “Bachmann seeks to destroy it, and replace it with something that resembles the Republic of Gilead.”

    I was just thinking this, to the word, moments ago while reading another article about Bachmann. Atwood is a prophetess, I fear.

  9. 9
    Mike Golch says:

    Sadly there are way too many people who will shoot themselves in the foot just to vote the President out of office when the true blue meenies are the republicans that are causing this great country to slide futher down the the hole that they dug when “W” was president.

  10. 10
    Clarence says:

    This post is full of bad assumptions.
    For one, if you reward Obama with your vote you merely insure that the Democrats continue on their right wing trajectory.

    For two, the choice isn’t between a Republican and a Democrat. It’s between a Democrat who wants to slash social programs and govern like Republican-lite and between a Republican who wants to slash social programs totally. It’s not really a choice, the best thing to do is either vote third party or write in a candidate. Then, at least, when social security is cut , medicaid is cut, and social programs are gutted you won’t have to worry about having to say you gave your license to this kind of behavior.

    In short, Jeff understand this and understand this well: no matter which of the regular two party candidates you vote for in this election you will lose. It may be a question of losing less versus losing more, but you will lose. What’s worse is that if the only people who bother to vote are those that will vote for one of our two jokes of political parties, then the “republicanization” of the Democrats will continue, and I will merely say “I told you so”.

  11. 11
    Elusis says:

    I don’t think the choice is that simple. Sheila Kennedy puts it well here.

    “So–here are two vignettes of our possible futures. We can express our fears and frustrations by flocking to the banner of people who deny complexity, reality and humanity, or we can act on our better natures, recognizing that the human family–just like our own families–is composed of many different kinds of people, all of whom are entitled to respect and affection.”

  12. 12
    Denise says:

    Clarence, that sounds very much like the rhetoric of the 2000 election. Bush and Gore are the same, so why vote? Bush and Gore are the same, so vote for a 3rd party if you bother coming out at all.

    And then we got 8 years of Bush. Was that a victory? Did it end up pushing Democrats any farther to the left? And if it did, was it worth it? Was it worth the recession, the thousands of American lives lost in wars, the many many more foreign lives lost too? Was all that worth it to make a point?

    Voting someone like Michele Bachmann into office would be an unmitigated disaster, just like voting George W. Bush into office was. Yeah, sure, Bush fired up Democrats a little bit, but it did not result in progressive utopia when we finally got Dems back in office.

    It may suck, but if you don’t want this country to be run by Tea Party douchebags even more than it is now, the only responsible choice is to vote for the opposition.

  13. 13
    Clarence says:

    Denise:

    There IS no opposition. Heck, Amp is reading something about how few judicial nominations Obama has even attempted- in short, the rightward tilt of the judiciary is going on pretty much unopposed by your Democrat. Sure there’s been a very few “progressive” (or maybe we should be more realistic and say CENTRIST) nominations that Obama has felt the time and inclination to push to the bench (usually ones he can give the Republicans something to get) but the point is that the overall rightward tilt of the courts has gone largely unopposed by Obama because he’s been sitting on nominations and appointments for, in some cases, a few years now.

    Trying to scare people with Bush shouldn’t work, really. Most of the Republican foreign policy was kept despite Obama’s promises to the contrary. Remember closing Guantonomo? His economic policies have been pretty much the same. Have we renegotiated any free trade agreements? Did we or did we not bail out the crony Wall Street Banks just as Bush 2 was doing? Did we not do this TWICE already? And MOST of this stuff happened when the Presidency was Democratic and Democrats controlled both houses of congress!!
    This is the type of Democratic party YOU support? This is “opposition”? I laugh. A few small social policy changes that Obama has shown not the slightest inclination to actually fight for should they encounter obstacles, and you are willing to let him move Democratic policy on both the economic and foreign policy fronts well to the right of any “liberal” or “progressive” standard whatsoever. All I can say is you sell your vote very cheaply. Don’t worry. Keep doing the same stuff you have been doing, and you will be politically marginalized and find the stuff you care about thrown under the bus soon enough.

  14. 14
    redheadedfemme says:

    I am so sick of this “closing Guantanamo” canard.

    Remember this?

    Senate blocks transfer of Gitmo detainees

    Democrats on Capitol Hill Rebel Against President Obama’s Guantanomo Bay Plan

    Talk about getting stabbed in the back. And from his own party at that. Although the House had already deleted the funds to close the prison–so no money, no closie.

    Again, if you look at it, the Repubs are at fault, whipping up terrorist hysteria:

    Republicans have been raising alarm bells for weeks about the prospect of Obama’s planned Guantanamo closure.

    Where will the detainees go, they’ve asked over and over. Will they be tried in the United States? And will former detainees, if cleared of the charges against them, be walking the U.S. streets?

    Well, yeah, if they were found innocent, they would be walking the streets. As they should be.

    But don’t say Obama didn’t close Guantanamo. He couldn’t.

  15. 15
    Robert says:

    [Posted in the wrong place. Never mind.

    But Hillary in 2012!]

  16. 16
    Clarence says:

    redheadedfemme:

    Just another thing Obama put absolutely no political capital in getting done.
    http://www.talkleft.com/story/2011/1/7/194413/0135
    Speaking of which, Talkleft has covered this extensively:
    http://www.talkleft.com/search?string=Guantanamo

    Please don’t try to be an Obama apologist. The guy is not only a liar but by all accounts a coward. I can’t think of a single brave thing he’s done since he’s been in office. Heck, I can’t even count the HCR since he stripped out as much as he possibly could to try to get Republican approval and they still talk about “Death Panels”. The guy governs like a corporatist Republican-lite with a few liberal nods on social issues that he won’t expend much political capital on. If you like that, vote for it and watch as your party slips totally away from you. You know one of the reason Obama gets so much hatred from the Republicans? It’s because the nutty rightwing has taken over most of the party and its driven the Democratic party more rightward in many ways for various reasons in response. This must be stopped, and rewarding Obama with the Presidency again won’t help do that at all.

  17. 17
    redheadedfemme says:

    And giving Bachmann or Perry the Presidency will get it to stop?

    You must be joking.

    Did you even read what Jeff said?

    The choice that progressives and liberals have is not between perfect and evil. It is between Obama and evil. And if you’re willing to choose evil to spite Obama — well, in my mind, that makes you as bad as the evil itself.

  18. 18
    Clarence says:

    redheadedfemme:

    Yes, to put it bluntly, giving the Republicans the Presidency again might get it to stop. You want to know why?

    Because both the political parties in their current forms need to DIE. And they will die one way or the other. I’d say a Republican Presidency will help push that process along faster. If you can force Democratic candidates to respect your vote and hew more Progressive then you have some leverage where it counts. If, instead, you decide that party loyalty and “The Republicans are worse!” over rides any consideration of your own parties betrayal of its principles and your own, then you deserve to lose representation in your party.
    Right now Obama is busy repudiating in both word and action FDR’s legacy. Just how much longer will you feel comfortable calling yourself a Democrat if this keeps up? In any case, if the Republicans take the White House MOST things (I’m sad to say ) won’t change. Meanwhile Progressives could work on taking back over the Democratic party or forming a viable 3rd party. People who keep pushing this into the future with “but the other side is worse!” have my contempt.

  19. 19
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Why isn’t there a Progressive Party? It seems to me that there could be something making roughly as much noise as the Tea Party. There are definitely more progressives than libertarians, and libertarians have a party. Ok, a disappointing and ineffective party, but progressives shouldn’t have the ideological problems with getting something organized that libertarians do.

  20. 20
    Robert says:

    “Why isn’t there a Progressive Party?”

    There was. It’s now the Republican Party. (Everyone forgets that the RP really got its start ending slavery, promoting civil rights for blacks, and pushing environmental conservation.)

    I guess the real question is, what do you mean by progressive? If you mean an economically collective party, well, you got CPUSA. If you mean just generally hippieish, there are the Greens. And so forth for a variety of minor parties of varying effectiveness and organization.

  21. 21
    redheadedfemme says:

    Clarence:

    Okay, so you’re a principled idealist. That’s fine. No compromise on principles and all that. Notwithstanding the fact that it sounds an awful lot like the Tea Party…

    What do you think will happen to the rest of us during a Republican presidency? I suppose you’ll stand back and watch as Social Security and Medicare are eliminated entirely, the Ryan budget implemented, Medicaid reformed out of existence (or reduced to block grants that don’t begin to cover all the people who need it), laughing and cackling about your principles?

    I’m sorry, but this idealistic crapola remedy sounds worse than the disease.

    So when you have to work till you’re eighty because there’s no Social Security–but can’t because you have heart disease–and need expensive treatment for that heart disease–but can’t get treatment because there’s no Medicare–well, I hope your principles will comfort you then.

  22. 22
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Robert, as I understand the people who call themselves progressive in my social circle, they want a generous safety net, generally less punitive policies, less spent on war, a good bit of regulation of business, and possibly less meddling in private life.

    Public progressives (that is, people not in my social circle) tend to want government intervention to make people not be fat.

  23. 23
    Robert says:

    Sounds like you’re a Green to me. So you have a party.

  24. 24
    Susan says:

    Robert, I’m curious. And perhaps I’m attributing to you views you do not in fact hold.

    But let’s talk about vulnerable people. For example. Old people (which increasingly means anyone over 40) who need to buy health insurance on their own usually cannot afford it. This means, among many other things, that enterprising 45 year olds who would like to start businesses (remember, small businesses are responsible for the majority of job growth) cannot do that because they cannot afford health insurance on their own string if there is anything at all (including a hangnail) wrong with them or with anyone in their family. (Hint: don’t dispute me on the facts here, I really do know what I am talking about.) This is OK? This is hurting the economy big time, and I can prove it.

    Then, the hopelessly disabled. You’d cut them off without public support? Good luck to them? Nice guy. They should have families to take care of them? What if they don’t, they should just die and get out of the way?

    The 85 year old woman who took care of her family all her years, her husband is dead, no pension from the bankrupt former employer? Her only son died in a car accident? She’s just out of luck?

    I’m stumped, I admit that I just plain don’t understand people who take positions like this. Maybe they think they will be young forever. Maybe they think, in defiance of facts, that Big Corporations are the source of most of this country’s economic growth. (Try looking at some actual facts? No! No!) Maybe they think they won’t ever lose their money and be ailing and destitute. Who can tell?

    Maybe they just don’t give a damn.

    Hint: a lack of answer, or changing the subject…it’s an answer.

  25. 25
    Clarence says:

    redheadedfemme:

    We are going in that direction already. The Republicans might push us a bit farther along a bit faster, but slowly but surely that is becoming the Democratic party consensus too. You want to know why? Because they can take voters like you for granted. You know the right is so successful right now? Because in the mid to late 1960′s when liberal dominance seemed permanently assured they started to do the scut work of actually increasing their representation in the GOP and in the public policy arena in general. I’m not being an “idealist”, I’m being realistic. I’ve voted for politicians more than once whilst holding my nose, choosing the “lesser of two evils” and all of that. And all it’s gotten me is less free as the country has veered farther and farther to the right. That I like some centrist right wing policies , doesn’t mean I enjoy the rather nutty branch that is in charge of the GOP at this moment. Problem is you have faux Democrats in charge of the Democratic party. If you value there actually being , you know, political opposition in this country- then you will have to hold your party responsible at some point. If that means voting Republican, Voting communist, or green, or independent, or even not voting at all, then that is what you will have to do. Of course you might wait too long until your party is totally taken over by the anti New Deal Corporatist forces , and “blue dog” Democrats who are rather wary of a “woman’s right to choose”, but hey, I guess you like less poison in the near term. I just hope you realize you will have to take more poison in the long term. Neat how that works, hmm?

  26. 26
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Robert, I’m not a progressive, I’m a liberal-flavored libertarian.

    I’ve heard a lot of complaining about the democratic party not being far enough left. The tea party proves that if there’s enough enthusiasm, it’s possible to have an effect.

  27. 27
    Myca says:

    Clarence:

    I guess you like less poison in the near term. I just hope you realize you will have to take more poison in the long term. Neat how that works, hmm?

    People who keep pushing this into the future with “but the other side is worse!” have my contempt.

    Let’s start from the assumption that we’re all in favor of the same things, roughly (except Robert and Ron, of course). We’re all in favor of increasingly liberal policies being enacted, a stronger social safety net, less war … all the stuff Nancy talked about in comment #22.

    The debate, then, isn’t about the what, but the how. We’re on the same side about the ‘what’.

    With that in mind, please cut your sneering and contempt out. It’s unhelpful.

    The problem is essentially that Greens say, accurately, that if we take half a loaf all the time, all we’ll ever get is half a loaf, and what’s more that the loaf will continue to get smaller and smaller. They’re right.

    The Dems say that the alternative to half a loaf isn’t a full loaf, is no loaf at all … plus the baker comes around and breaks your knees. They’re right.

    You may not like “not as bad as the other guys.” It may fill you with contempt. That sucks. It doesn’t change that it’s also true.

    The question, long term, is how to get more liberal policies enacted … and the reason we get half a loaf from the Democrats is the same reason the Greens are not a national party … there just aren’t as many liberals as there are conservatives. Thus, though the Republican party can survive near-exclusively on the votes of the big buckets of xenophobia-laced-ignorance who think global warming is a myth and being gay is a choice, the Dems must woo ‘centrist’ voters.

    If we don’t like the half a loaf (which I don’t), that’s what we have to change. If we don’t like the Democratic party being a bunch of pro-corporate sellouts (which I do not like, and do not debate) that’s what we have to change. If we want a liberal third party to ever stand a chance (which I do), that’s what we have to change.

    Everything else is fucking around.

    Part of why the Tea Party has such power within the Republican caucus is because they can make credible claims to effectiveness … not just the ability to defeat people, but the ability to elect people. They elected enough glassy-eyed fundamentalist-fringe-types that they’re now running the party. We liberals, right now, cannot make the credible claim that we’re going to do that. Period.

    If we could, we should. Whoops, argument over! If we fill the Democratic party with good liberals, they’ll be the party we want them to be. Let’s do that. Or not. But let’s stop pretending it’s about something else.

    It’s not about backbone. It’s not about some kind of emotional stance. It’s about there not being enough voters who agree with us.

    —Myca

  28. 28
    Robert says:

    @Susan – positions like what? I think you’d have a difficult time finding me advocating for dumping the elderly disabled into garbage scows, or whatever conception of my views it is you have.

  29. 29
    Susan says:

    I think you’d have a difficult time finding me advocating for dumping the elderly disabled into garbage scows, or whatever conception of my views it is you have.

    @ Robert, well, that’s why I included my disclaimer. So, what would you advocate that we do with the elderly disabled?? Or other people who are, through no fault of their own, helpless? Please, do tell!! I’m all ears. Wow! You have The Answer to a major problem here! Don’t just keep it to yourself!!

    Don’t just tell me what you think we should not do about these problems, please to tell me what you think we should do. Please! We are all waiting!

    I’ve read Ms. Bachmann’s Manifestos, such as they are, and my post was my best effort to re-state her views in English. Subject, of course, to correction by Ms. Bachmann and/or her allies. I may have seriously misunderstood this whole thing!

    If I have misunderstood Ms. Bachmann, please to straighten me out concerning the cases I have mentioned, I’d be glad to hear it. Please specifically address the cases I have mentioned. If you need more details about actual, specific human beings I would be more than glad to supply them.

    If you do not think Ms. Bachmann is on the right track, I am glad to hear it (!), and please explain further, apparently I have seriously misunderstood her position. If you think I have the whole thing wrong, please please, issue a correction, I am glad to be corrected, eager to be corrected.

    If you think I do understand her correctly and that Ms. Bachmann is on the right track, please to explain all this to me in terms addressing the people I have cited. Who are real people. But their numbers are many. Abandoning these people to the dubious mercies of the street is a good idea? And why is that? Please be specific.

    Also, please to be specific about why it is that talented 40+ year olds cannot start their own businesses in this climate, and why this situation is a good idea. You might include data about who exactly is providing your own health insurance…and how much it costs. (Are you aware that the USA pays twice, per person, what Europe pays for health care, and gets inferior results?)

    I’d also be glad to hear what you yourself, from your position, would advocate doing about the people I list in my previous post. (Anything at all? Too bad for them? Please be specific. ) Don’t give me a lot of guff. What exactly is it that you are advocating in these specific cases? BE SPECIFIC.

    Absent any of this, your most recent post falls into the “changing the subject” category.

    oh gosh you have me all wrong, I love kittens and the disabled elderly ya ya

    Also puppies…..

  30. 30
    Robert says:

    You can get a rundown of classical liberalism, aka libertarianism, of which I am broadly an adherent, from any number of sources. Jeff’s party-politics thread isn’t the place for Libertarian 101, if that’s what you’re in need of.

    My only substantive post on this thread consists of me saying that there are a number of progressive-friendly minor parties. I don’t see how that’s a subject change, or a point that requires me to digress into Bob’s Theory of Human Socioecodynamics in order to be made.

  31. 31
    Susan says:

    My only substantive post on this thread consists of me saying that there are a number of progressive-friendly minor parties.

    Sure there are. And don’t think I don’t notice that you’re ducking the question.

    @Robert

    Yet another attempt to duck the questions I have asked. You don’t have any answers? Say so up front. It’s all good. I’m no intellectual myself.

    Who cares, when they are hurting, what a classical liberal (who died 300 years ago) thinks? No one cares, most emphatically including me. We have real decisions to make here, in real time. What you’re saying here is, that doesn’t matter. And I guess it doesn’t, to you.

    But no different than I expected. A real engagement with the intellectual underpinning here, as it engages with reality….well, that requires a lot of brain cells, and a lot of perspective.

    And some empathy for people who are, through no fault of their own, maybe not as well off as oneself.

    Congrats to the teapartiers! They apparently have enough, and more than enough! And the devil take the hindmost!

    Abandoning everyone else, who does not have money, well, that’s OK? Why??
    Please to be specific. The hypothetical disabled person – what would you do? (Remember, I work with the disabled homeless, and have a lot of information, so don’t just post without thinking.)

    You think you’re safe? You are only one automobile crash away from trouble.

    What about the destitute elderly? Take my example as a sample. I have any number of such folks among my clients. Your SPECIFIC solution would be…?

    Neither I nor anyone else here (subject to correction) cares what any party says.

    But I do. Please to answer the question.

    Not answering is an answer.

  32. 32
    joe says:

    Susan,
    Rather than derail the thread with “what’s Robert wrong about” maybe you could email him offline and hash it out there?

    I’m not a mod, I just like this topic and don’t want to read “what’s Robert wrong about” version 6,493,987. Search the archives, arguing with Robert is should have it’s own tag. ;)

  33. 33
    Susan says:

    I am actually seriously disturbed. That any of my countrymen would officially seek to say, “well, the heck with the poor elderly, the disabled.” Let them starve, or whatever. Who knows what their real position is: they are perhaps understandably reluctant to be candid on this point.

    That a substantial portion of my countrymen would take that position. So that those people who already have enough and more than enough should be able to keep what they have. How awful.

    I am ashamed. That anyone with any political influence at all in my country, my native land, would say such a thing.

    Robert, who attempts to defend this position, says…”You can get a rundown of classical liberalism, aka libertarianism, of which I am broadly an adherent, from any number of sources.”

    Yes. I suppose that you can. This is, however, a pretty weak defense.

    _____________

    Hi joe, just saw your thing. You are probably right. Still I’d like to see some reasoned argument here, so shoot me.

    Sorry, whatever. If we’re not here to have a discussion why are we here? I’m only here intermittently, sorry for any disruption. I am genuinely curious about Robert’s position.

    Sorry I’m outa here. Still…if we don’t listen to each other how can we come to agreement? If this isn’t a discussion, well, I work for a living, I have better things to do.

    See all you later then. Blessings on all.

  34. 34
    mythago says:

    For one, if you reward Obama with your vote you merely insure that the Democrats continue on their right wing trajectory.

    Actually, if you reward Bachmann with your vote, you absolutely insure that the Democrats continue on their right-wing trajectory. Because, as smarter people than me have already pointed out, if right-wing candidates and positions win elections, then Democratic politicians will logically conclude that to win an election, they must move farther to the right.

    The idea that the current political parties will die if a handful of progressives throw a tantrum is hilarous. There’s too much power and money wrapped up in their existence; they’re not going away.

  35. 35
    Clarence says:

    mythago:
    That’s really a cute argument. After all when all of Congress and the Presidency was in Democratic hands they didn’t act “Progressive”. Matter of fact they governed like Republicans. So now the argument you are making seems to be that if we fail to reward them for governing more like Republicans they will tack even farther to the right.

    As for the parties, if they all compete for rightwing votes then you might as well as a leftwing person admit you have no political representation. Oh well, no skin off my bones. I know what will happen and I will very much say “I told you so”.

  36. 36
    Clarence says:

    Myca:
    While your post is appreciated by me and is from the heart, the fact is you are NOT getting half a loaf. It’s more like you USED to get half a loaf and now, when your party wins, each time you get less and less of a loaf. About now I’d say “Progressives” are getting 1/20 of a loaf. Forgive me if I don’t think that is hardly any better than nothing and given the way things are going it will soon BE nothing.

    That’s the problem The fact that both parties are going to the right and at this time they are not getting any pushback whatsoever from the left. That HAS to change or you better get ready to pack y our bags and immigrate if you want political representation.

  37. 37
    Elusis says:

    Susan, I don’t think you intend to be ageist, but I happen to be turning 38 on Wednesday, and would have happily accepted a half-time teaching appointment at a school I very much want to work for when it was floated to me a few months ago, while going back into private practice as a family therapist, except that I can’t be without health insurance. So sadly I would have freed up a full-time job with bennies for someone else (doin’ my part to dig us out of the Great Recession!) except for that pesky medical stuff.

    Just saying, it’s not limited to those 40+. Younger innovators can’t afford to innovate either, unless we’re supremely lucky in our health (and well-padded with family resources in case disaster strikes.)

  38. 38
    JThompson says:

    I can’t understand looking at him and thinking Bachmann is preferable from where I sit, but I can kind of see why it would seem that way to some people. One of few things it looks like Obama is going to be willing to fight for is “free trade”. When you can’t find a job and the president says “Well, I think we’ll just have more one-sided trade agreements! It worked so well before!”, it makes you think he’s either completely out of touch, a blithering idiot, or hopelessly corrupt.

    And as far as “status quo” goes, Obama isn’t satisfied with it either. That’s why he’s pushing for the agreements that let us import from countries where “The workers are organizing.” means “Send in the death squad.”.

  39. Pingback: links for 2011-08-16 | B12 Solipsism

  40. 39
    Wally Hayman says:

    “The Choice” is a well-considered essay and I appreciate both the author’s intellectual argument and his heart, but there is a problem here that many of us choose to ignore and, I believe, of which many younger Democratic voters are unaware.

    It’s the the ever-creeping, insidious effect of the Overton Curve. Many Democrats don’t know what a Democrat is – or perhaps more accurately, what a Democrat was.

    I’m 63-years-old and never considered myself a Leftist – until now. I used to just be called a “Democrat,” but on today’s political graph, the term for anything to the Left of center is called a “Liberal,” or “Leftist.” Once a dirty word among Republicans (even when it still applied to some of their own), the word “Liberal” has become a dirty word among Democrats. And we have people like Karl Rove to thank for that transition. We bought into the Republican lie and cowered when we should have boldly held to our beliefs and our proud labels. To this old Democrat, the word “Progressive” is foreign; a safe word devised by Democrats who were afraid of being accused of being Liberals. The Republican equivalent of the word “Liberal” used to be “Conservative.” Now, a Republican who calls himself a Conservative is considered a centrist. Today, Barry Goldwater, once the endorsed darling of many Birchers, would have a tough time surviving the Koch Brothers’ Tea Party gauntlet.

    The man who beat Goldwater for the presidency was considered well to the Right of JFK, Humphrey, Stevenson and other prominent Democrats of the day but his Great Society would be labeled Socialist by many today in both parties. Johnson beat Goldwater in one of the most lop-sided presidential contests in history. Today, Johnson would be painted as a Leftist by his own party and would never become the nominee for president.

    My point should be clear. This has got to stop. At some point Democrats have to stop trying to win elections as ersatz Republicans , or worse, legislate as Republicans. After the 2008 elections, Democratic pundits were declaring the Republican party moribund, even referring to it as reduced to no more than a “regional” party with little national clout and possessing little hope of recovery to its former glory. The purging of their own seemed to many, including me, as a final suicidal act. Now we know better, for just over two years later, it is the Democratic Party who is rudderless, failing and with no moral backbone. and if Democrats must pick up any part of the Republican mantel, it should be the adoption of some of the same tactics to purge “Centrist” Democrats from the ranks and replace them with Democrats, defined as men and women who adhere to the same national platforms – platforms that once were the hallmark of a party who stood up for the common man.

    It’s hard to argue against Jeff Fecke’s basic point, that Bachmann and gang are consummate evil, and to not vote for anyone at least to the Left of the Tea Party crowd is self-defeating. Still, the time has come, and almost passed, to hold Democrats accountable, not for moving to the Left, but moving to the Democratic side of issues.

    The solution? I believe it’s time to primary every Democrat who votes in favor of stripping Social Security and Medicare. Win or lose, the message will be clear, as it was to the now resurgent Republicans. The message is simple: act like Democrats and vote like Democrats. Who knows, maybe someday, the word Liberal will once again become an acceptable word among Democrats. Hey, it was good enough to force past Democratic leaders to commit to the New Deal and the Great Society, maybe lightning can strike thrice.
    While Ralph Nader remains a bogeyman to many Democrats (despite the facts absolving him of any real personal effect on the 2000 election), as more time passes and more of our “friendly” legislators betray us, Nader’s prescience seems frighteningly accurate. As he warned, always voting against a candidate rather than for your own choice eventually buys you a one party, or no-party, government. The Overton curve is beginning to flatline the country.

    The Party of Lincoln lost its way only to become the antithesis of everything the great man stood for, and died for. It’s time to take the Democratic Party’s historical commitments seriously, before all of us forget what the word “Democrat” means.

  41. 40
    Robert says:

    People know what “Democrat” means. It means defense cuts, preserving/expanding all social spending, and raising taxes to pay for as much of it as we absolutely have to, basically, whatever we can’t borrow.

    Unfortunately that’s a hard sell these days. If the budget was in balance and the world was peaceful, then Democrats could go hog-wild with social policies and the like, but that isn’t the scenario we face. We’re broke. We have to fix the financial and economic systems before the whole thing goes down the toilet. (And yes, Republicans/conservatives carry a big part of the responsibility for that situation.)

    That means that an honest Democrat is someone who has a hard time finding 51% of the vote.