The Greatest Threat to Liberals? Ourselves

votersYes, I said it. All too often, we end up being our own worst enemy, and I’m going to tell you why.

Let’s flash back to 2008 and the glorious afterglow of the night when President Obama was elected. For a short period of time, Democrats had control of the House and Senate and things looked good. Too many people thought that the days of the radical right were finally over and finally, we were on the path to join the other more enlightened countries on Planet Earth. For the first time, we had elected a non-white person as President, which seemed to be proof positive to many that we had finally moved beyond the spectre of segregation, fire hoses and police dogs. Perhaps Dr. King’s dream had finally come true, the Affordable Care Act had been passed, and for awhile – it seemed as if the sky was the limit.

Then we sat on our hands and thought that by casting a winning ballot in 2008, our job was done. Now we could go back to fighting each other over who was more liberal, who was more ideologically pure, and making fun of the South. Or so we thought.

Along came 2010 and with it, a wave of truly pissed off conservative voters who were still fuming from 2 years before. While we sat around and argued over minor differences or filled out useless petitions on a variety of websites, they organized. Even as they were reeling from defeats in 2006 and 2008, the Koch Brothers and the GOP establishment were working at the local and state levels to establish control through gerrymandering and voter suppression, a tactic that continues through today. What were we doing? Basking in that afterglow and little else.

I know this is going to strike a nerve with a lot of people, but simply showing up to vote every couple of years and thinking that’s all there is to do is what the GOP is counting on you to believe. You can write all the nice little blogs and share all the clever memes you want but that is no substitute for real action. While we celebrated the recent Supreme Court decisions in favor of marriage equality, a number of states rammed through some of the harshest anti-choice laws in years, while others are pushing legislation to suppress the votes of minorities who tend to vote Democratic. In some cases, these are happening in the same states at the same time – and thanks to Republican control in these states, it’s likely that many of these attacks on our rights will become law.

Sadly, there’s way too many people who think that the next important election is in 2014 or even 2016. The fact of the matter is that EVERY election matters. Whether it is a city election or a state assembly member, every single one counts. Are you upset about the gerrymandering of Congressional districts or the stripping of state funding for women’s healthcare? Guess where that is decided? It’s at the local and state level, not the US House or Senate. This is the time to get more involved than every before, not sit back and rest on the laurels of 2012. Just because you aren’t fighting doesn’t mean they stopped. In fact, that’s what they’re counting on and all too often, it works.

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  • nreese

    Thank you! Will share this message, because it is one that needs to be hammered into the head of every Dem, liberal and progressive!

  • vorykua

    that is a very nice and comforting story many of us have been telling ourselves to excuse the ineptitude of Obama and the Democratic party. Let me tell you how it should’ve gone down…

    On jan, 2009 there were over 2M people and over a billion more witnessing the innauguration of the first black POTUS. Obama won by a landslide, and everyone wanted to ride his coattails. He couldve literally walked on water.

    Obama and the Democratic party had majorities in the house and senate, and now the executive, and with that, the power to roll back the last 8 years of Bush . Now, one would say, that in order to be thorough, one should cross every T and dot every I. So how do you get your agenda passed , the agenda that the American people voted for and show it works? Well you look at the panorama and you say. “Well we got 60 votes on the senate, but still we should make sure and scrap the filibuster rule out” . Now you may want to point out how at the more recent attempts after 2011 and 2013 didnt work, but this was not attempted on 2009. Obama was extremely popular and indeed Americans wanted change. I have NO doubt in my mind that the 51 votes were there to change this rule. And if there was any resistance then you know what ? If perhaps there were 4 or 5 or even 10 senators that happened to be insecure, you just negotiate and promise them whatever they want. This may sound dirty to some, but it is how things still work to this day, and when you look at the greater good ” Universal Healthcare, bringing back Glass Steigel, Campaign reform,” you name it, it wouldve have happened.

    To think that the Democratic party were caught with the pants down and didnt see the GOP obstruction coming is utter ineptitude, if not just plain dumb. I dont think these people are at all dumb, so it just leaves me with the conclusion that far too many Dems are Anything but Liberals, and just corporate puppets ( which brings me back to how campaign reform couldve been changed to liberate to doing the will of the people , but i digress ) . I just thinks now that Democrat , just as Republicans are not in DC to solve problems, because without problems for them to rattle people and scare people into voting them to office or giving them money.

    Our biggest mistake is not just sitting on our hands during midterm elections, its not watching out for state or even county elections. The GOP has been organizing for years and taking over from the bottom up. We have been to focused on the presidency when we should be focusing on building a good democratic base of legislatures that are willing to do the will of the people.

    • Thank you for pounding the nail in and getting it started.
      The Democratic party then proceeded to, instead of dismantling the Bush/Cheney doctrines, actually proactively expanding them. Rather than pursue Single Payer, or even a Public Option, given his mandate to reform Health Care, Obama tasked an insurance industry lobbyist to write up a bill to insure the industry’s profits. He then went on to appoint Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to every major financial position in his administration, to reward those that invested in his campaign.
      He asked for (and got) expansions of the Patriot Act, retroactive immunity for the Telecom industry for illegal (and unconstitutional) wiretapping, expanded military spending, and claimed the right to indefinitely detain anyone without even charging them with a crime. His escalation of drone strikes, which kill 10x as many civilians as traditional airstrikes ensured that 10x as many people would hate us for killing their innocent family members.
      The list goes on, and all of these things that would have had Democrats (not to be confused with Liberals) out in the street if they had been done under the Republican brand name, were now actively defended by those for whom party loyalty is more important than integrity or principle, or even basic morality.

      This has led us to a point where telling the public about war crimes or severe breaches of the US Constitution are now things that Democrats (again, not to be confused with Liberals) actually consider to be “Treason” (rather than breaking one’s oath to uphold the Constitution, as these whistleblowers have made clear that this administration, as well as the prior one, have egregiously done.)

      Then we have sycophants trying to paint the problem as people not voting in every election, whereas the obvious problem is the complete lack of accountability for those whom, once elected, systematically break every promise they made when running for office (i.e. closing Gitmo, which could be done with the stroke of an executive pen, labelling GMOs, ending the Patriot Act, ending the surveillance state, protecting the environment, ending, rather than privatizing, the war in Iraq, following the Rule of Law, etc ad nauseum), basically stating that the disillusionment that leads to low voter turnout is the problem, not of the disillusioners, but the disillusioned.

      As the great progressive Robert “Fighting Bob” LaFollette said, Democracy BEGINS at the voting booth.

      Forward ends with a d. To be Forwar is not to be forward.

      • Sherri Y

        Unreal. This is exactly what the author was talking about. Y’know, it’s bad enough that the GOP is always engaging in revisionist history, it’s worse when liberals start believing the spin. Worst of all, though, are those liberals who thought that the election of Obama meant a complete restructuring of government. As if our agencies would automatically operate radically differently the day after his Inauguration than they had the day beforehand. Despite their CONGRESSIONAL mandates.

        Which is how we end up with liberals saying things like “Dems had 60 votes” and shoulda/coulda done anything they wanted (notice how this version requires former Blue Dog Dems like Ben Nelson to be erased from memory) and expressing shock that Congress didn’t race to repeal their own legislation (PATRIOT Act).

        Nothing, however, made us look sillier than how the GOP used Gitmo to mindf*ck liberals after ensuring that Obama couldn’t close it on his own — a fact they conveniently forgot to mention while taunting Dems about Obama’s “broken promise.” In fact, I imagine that they got a good laugh watching Dems use that issue to argue among themselves while they took the House back in 2010 despite KNOWING THEN that the GOP had no interest in (or intention of) closing down Gitmo either.

        So what was the point of our infighting? What did we get out of it as a result? Other than damn near gerrymandered out of existence in some states. Along with a useless, Do Nothing, GOP House. Was it worth it?

        But that’s liberals for you: jacks of all trades; masters of none when it comes to long-term focus. Which is why we can’t have nice things…

      • PitoDaddy

        Very well said, Sherri…you took the words right off of my keyboard. The stakes are too damn high to have amnesia regarding the facts about what has been going on in our country since President Obama became president.

        For his first two years in office the Democrats had a strong majority in the House the whole time, and a weak majority in the Senate for about 75 days or so. Ted Kennedy died in Aug 2009, and we had blue dogs like Ben Nelson, and a former Democrat turned independent, Joe Lieberman, who endorsed John McCain and spoke at the 2008 GOP convention. Both Nelson and Lieberman said that they would not support the Affordable Care Act if it included the public option, so it was removed. These two SOBs were likely votes 59 and 60 in the Senate, with no GOP support.

        Can you imagine where our country would be right now had the GOP been in control of the House and Senate when president Obama was elected? Grover Norquist and the Koch Brothers would have likely told them to let the country crash into a depression, something that they almost did in July 2011 when they refused to raise the debt ceiling. They are currently threatening to do so again.

        Our priority now should be to fight like hell to take back the House and gain a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in 2014. The five right wingers on the Supreme Court recently struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act which will make our job even more difficult..the right wing will have their voter suppression efforts on steroids.

        The president got some good things accomplished during his first two years in office. Emoprogs need to stop focusing on what they believe the president didn’t do perfectly and stop attacking the president because he couldn’t move Mount Rushmore over night while the Republicans were sitting on it.

        If the right wing steals our country from us, we can kiss goodbye Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Obamacare, unemployment insurance, and every other Democratic Party-sponsored social program that has literally helped millions of people survive and get through tough times over the decades. We need to help the Democrats take control of our country. And although imperfect, the Democratic Party has a lot of good people and the fact of the matter is, they’re our only line of defense against the right wing that wants to take this country to feudalism. We have to come together before its too late.

      • jllutseck

        “Nothing, however, made us look sillier than how the GOP used Gitmo to
        mindf*ck liberals after ensuring that Obama couldn’t close it on his own.”

        I’d disagree. I’d say nothing made us look sillier than the in-fighting over the Affordable Care Act… which played right into the hands of the Koch Brothers and their mad Tea Party. While I was being sexually assaulted by a right-winger for standing up for peoples’ right to health care, I was also being stabbed in the back by so-called “liberal progressives” throwing a temper tantrum over the Affordable Care Act not being everything their little hearts desired on the first try. These so-called liberals either DIDN’T VOTE or actually VOTED FOR THE TEA PARTY in 2010, all because they had sadz that the legislation didn’t give them wet dreams.

        Activists like me said “F-YOU!” after that election… ’cause ain’t nobody got time for that.

  • PegasusWing

    I got on one black girl in her mid 20’s who had never voted. She missed voting for Obama the first time, but was there for the second term and so proud of herself. I doubt that she will miss another election. I wish the voting age was even lower so all high school students would get a chance to vote at least once before leaving h.s. We need full participation.

  • sue phelps

    Fla has about 3 more court hearings about re-districting fraud that the Rep. legislature, et al conducted (there were 4, the 1st one they were cleared). Re Voting. Corruption works 24/7 everywhere. Vote for the little guy/gal who WANTS the job for the right reason more than likely. Make sure it’s one who can’t afford yard signs, banners, bumper stickers and TV time. These people don’t have to be genuises, they need to be decent and be able to stay decent!

  • sue phelps

    Like it or not, the Republicans and the Teabagges are citizens toooo! I’ve read an awful lot of “slamming” of the Democratic party here and all they haven’t done – well the Administration is trying to do it’s business they were elected to do, and represent us in the world as delicately as we can be involved. To actively pursue the GOP’ers and their antics, behavior and oratory – consider the incidents that seem to come and go, the public almost one-by-one dismisses them after the initial hit by the GOP – even thought they are real. The GOP’ers have discredited themselves. They have behaved like little bad boys that lost and got made and threw all their equipment down on the ground, cussing as they left. The GOP’ers are suppose to be grown-up. When you loose you don’t focus on hatred, you stand up and put together what works for the betterment of what you are so HOT to represent!

  • SophieCT

    Maybe we picked the wrong Democrat. Maybe the one we picked was not as Liberal as everyone thought and was not as super organized as everyone thought and was not the leader that everyone thought. It’s a possibility worth considering.

    • Yes, the Democrat in the White House is not even a liberal, much less a progressive. Saying every single local election is important is something important to say, but it doesn’t get at the heart of the matter which is that both the Democrat and the Republican parties are controlled by the plutocrats and corporate lords of the American Brand of Fascism. The way that liberals are a threat to themselves is that they vote for Democrats who are back by the casino financial industry and all the other big corporations.

      • Sherri Y

        As opposed to voting for what OTHER Democrats? This is yet another useless complaint that ignores the fact that Citizens United is REAL. Not to mention the fact that liberals have never hated corporations (or Wall Street) as much as we’re accused of hating them.

        Like it or not, it takes millions of dollars to run for national office. But as Bernie Sanders has demonstrated, just because one uses corporate dollars to finance one’s campaign doesn’t mean that one has to live completely in said corporations’ pockets. Likewise, I don’t need to vote for an “anti-corporate” Democrat; I merely need to vote for one who ALSO cares about his or her non-corporate constituents.

    • Sythan

      You’re correct. Obama is not a liberal, he’s center-right, but he holds some liberal views.

  • JNWesner

    I have finally realized that any vote for any Republican is anti-Obama, anti-women and anti-Progressive. Sheriff, school board, city council, any office at all. I wish we had all seen this decades ago and acted accordingly. It may be too late for now, but it still should be our policy/

  • Gretchen Pemberton Brena

    So what should we be doing? Registering Democrats to vote? Supporting progressive candidates? Approaching people who may be good progressive candidates? Raising money for important races?