A “love” letter to Democrats

Some great thoughts reposted with permission courtesy of my friend Isaac Higham.  His remarks are directed specifically at the DADT debacle, but conceptually they apply throughout the Democratic agenda, such as it is – which is kind of the point.

My Dear Democrats,

Let me be frank: I’m pissed.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “I want my government back” tea party pissed.  I’m not upset because policies and changes aren’t moving fast enough for my liking. And I’m not even perturbed that you’re not as progressive as I—for I know that elections are won and governing coalitions are formed in the middle.  When I became a Democrat, I was proud to join the big tent party with a bounty of ideas.

No, I’m pissed because you are dropping the ball when you are called upon to defend the “us’es” from the barrage of Republican bullshit.

Stop letting Republicans divide the American people.

In 2004 when Bush and Rove divided the electorate with the marriage amendments across the country, Kerry said nothing.  When the Republicans divide America with their attacks on immigrants, Muslims, unionized labor and the middle class, the LGBT community, seniors and children, and all of the “us’es” hardly a peep is heard from Democrats calling them on their bullshit.  Oh sure, we battle them on the issues: immigration, religious freedom, marriage, and taxes, but we do not call them out on their calculated pitting of American versus American.

Yesterday, Republicans including John McCain outright LIED about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the Dream Act included as amendments to the Defense Authorization bill.

Their party blocked necessary aid for our troops (who are fighting wars THEY put them in), because they were more interested in being divisive over gays in the military and conditional pathways to citizenship for immigrants who serve in our armed forces and complete higher education.

All I heard in the aftermath was how “disappointed” we Democrats were that the Republicans let partisan politics block basic legislation the vast majority of Americans support.

Where are our “fierce advocates” we hear about every campaign season? Why do we not have more like Franken, Grayson, and Weiner who aren’t afraid to use their passion to call the Republicans on their divisiveness?

Where is the impassioned speech from my President forcefully declaring an immediate stop to the unconstitutional DADT policy and that Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for dividing Americans for partisan gain at the expense of what is best for the country and the American people?

I am a Liberal Progressive and a proud Democrat, but you still need to earn my vote—and right now you have a lot of work to do.  Grow a pair, stand up for the “us’es”, and then get back to me.

-Isaac Higham

Sound advice

My friend John Cole finally had enough.  He has good advice for us all.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and when he said “You can’t even pray anymore. Christians get stopped from praying, but Muslims get to pray,” I lost it.

“When was the last time someone stopped you from praying,” I asked.

He seemed startled- “Me, never. But they…”

I cut him off- “And when was the last time anyone stopped anyone you know from praying?”

“Well, I don’t personally know of anyone…”

“So who exactly is stopping people from praying?”

A little reality goes a long way.  It’s time to start introducing it to the discussions.

About Obama’s base problem

My friend Mike recently posted about Obama’s gay problem.  Some good thoughts, but a little extension is necessary to get things in full perspective..

Obama does not have a problem with gays, he has a problem with the base across the board and that is largely because he is under performing across the board.  That under performing has a real cost in the enthusiasm gap.

If people turned out in 2010 at 2008 levels, the democrats would be outright winning in NC and very, very competitive in half a dozen other close races.  As it stands we will probably hold the senate, but just barely.

Obama has not played hardball with Conservadems, let alone the GOP.  He negotiates away the store before even coming to the table.  He has not made proper use of reconciliation in the Senate, and has not been forceful about electoral consequences for the party of NO.  He has not been active in shaping policy and in selling policy in Congress.

He has not used his executive powers.  He could order a stop loss on DADT, he does not.  He could choose to not defend anti gay legislation in court, he does not.  HAMP is under *administrative* control and could work well if Obama choose to make it so.  Congress voted down the idea of a Social Security panel, Obama convened one anyway then stacked it with conservatives.  He could restore habeas corpus, he does not.

Obama has direct control of TARP funds, and there are about $500 billion to play with.  That’s a lot of stimulus IF he were to use it.  He could use it to relieve distressed debt and turn a profit for the government while doing so.  He could go after banks gouging customers by skirting credit card rules.    He can be actively involved and up front in pushing an agenda.

Another thing to consider wrt civil rights, as many people have noted recently, it’s embarrassing when many prominent GOP leaders are to the left of Obama on gay rights.  It’s embarrassing when in debates such as Fiorina/Boxer the other night the GOP candidate justifies their opposition to equal rights by quoting the sitting Democratic president.

And gays have started to notice.  You see, preferring one’s own gender does lead one toward certain conclusions on civil rights but does little to inform one’s opinions on taxation, protecting the environment, energy policy, immigration, etc.  I think it’s fair to say that a lot of gays lean democratic not because they are innately liberal so much as they see few options as the GOP has been so gawd awful hostile toward gays the last couple decades.

In a recent column Dan Savage observes that for all the rhetoric and chest beating over the past electoral cycles, the Democrats have done very little good, and the Republicans have done relatively little harm, at least in terms of revoking such advances as have been made.  Bush got a blank check from Congress, yet we have no federal marriage amendment, and DADT and DOMA were Democratic inventions.  Savage asks:

Say the GOP went to gay voters and promised to do no harm—no FMA, no more culture war nonsense, no efforts to block gay people from becoming parents—while at the same time pointing out that the Dems haven’t done much good. That argument won’t peel lefty and progressive gays and lesbians, a.k.a. the majority of gay and lesbian voters, off the Democrats. But it might convince conservative homos that they can safely vote Republican, blunting the Democrats’ advantage with small-but-significant chunk of the electorate. (There are more gay and lesbian voters than Jewish voters.)

It’s something the Democrats need to be considering.

The base is demoralized, feeling neglected and abused if not outright mislead.  That’s not good.  Obama got people out because they felt they had something to vote for.  That’s not the case this year for Democrats.  And they will pay in November if something doesn’t change, and change soon.

Paying the piper

Are progressives finally getting serious about fundraising for blue dogs?  It made sense to put party first when Democrats were in the minority, but with a solid majority the time has come to look for quality.

Chris Bowers opines:

If we keep sending the Blue Dogs millions of dollars in small, online donations every year, then there is no incentive for Blue Dogs to ever change their behavior, or for Democratic candidates to not seek out membership in the Blue Dog coalition. Currently, being a member, or prospective member, of the Blue Dog coalition provides you access to a network of Hill staff, corproate lobbyists and their PACs, large donor fundraisers, and press releases back home to talk about how you aren’t like those other, dirty liberal Democrats. If we want to change Democratic behavior in Congress, we have stop adding even more incentives for Democrats to become Blue Dogs. Instead, we must offer strong disincentives for them to become Blue Dogs, such as a significantly reduced access to online, small donor fundraising.

Unfortunately, in Scott Murphy’s case, small online donors raised over $300,000 for him even after Murphy had stated he was applying to join the Blue Dogs. That has to stop. Before we raise money for other congressional candidates in 2009-2010, we have to extract promises from those candidates that they won’t join either the Blue Dogs (for House candidates) or Evan Bayh’s groups (for Senate candidates).

No more money for the Blue Dogs. We can’t continue to ratify their efforts to push the Democratic Party to the right. There are plenty of candidates and organizations working to push the party in the opposite direction to whom we small online donors should give our money.

Recognizing the limitations

Yglesias on why a progressive majority will always be transitory:

I would go stronger than that, actually, and posit that American politics in the future will mostly be dominated by a center-right political coalition just as it always has. This is just how things work. A political coalition grounded in the social mores of the ethno-sectarian majority and the ideas of the business class has overwhelming intrinsic advantages against contrary movements grounded in the complaints of minority groups and the economic claims of the lower orders. It’s a little bit hard to even know what a permanent progressive governing majority would mean, and harder to know how you would sustain it.