CommunityMy FDLSeminal

The Dominoes Begin to Fall

In the past 30 years as a member of the Democratic Party I have gotten used to seeing my party’s elected officials snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. My party has elevated this tactic to an art form.

The Glen Beck show was being abandoned by advertisers in throngs, due largely to complaints about Beck’s increasingly racist and unhinged attacks on the Obama administration.

Van Jones’s "Color of Change’ got more than 50 advertisers to drop sponsorship of Beck’s program during the election on charges of racism.

Beck goes after Jones full-throttle, pulling out a comment he made about conservative Republicans being "assholes" and a signature to a petition that questioned George W. Bush’s handling of 9/11 that called for further investigation. Both took place before Johnson became the president’s advisor.

So what do the Democrats do? Did they stand up in unison and refute Beck’s insane claims and overt racism? Did they stand by the president’s advisor and vow to continue supporting his rights? No, they remained silent. Just like they let the teabaggers take control of the health care reform debate. Just like they remained silent while rightwing radio inflamed millions of crazies and loosed them into the public square unchallenged. Just like they always do.

Last night Jones resigned. I can hear Rahm now, crowing about how that distraction is out of the way now so the White House can focus on the important issue of killing the public option. Because that’s how the conservative Republicans work, right? Give them what they want and they are satisfied. They will now suddenly stop criticizing Obama and everything that he and the Democratic party say and do, right? They would never move immediately to the next target, would they? They would never perceive this as validation and a victory to spur them on to even greater acts of craziness, would they?

I remember how so many Republicans in the Bush administration fell on their proverbial swords after consorting with the rightwing pundits who were calling for the wholesale execution of all liberals. Remember that? Remember how so many of the extremist members of the Republican party disappeared so Bush, with his mighty majorities in both houses of congress, could focus on his legislative priorities? Remember how Goldberg and Malkin and Coulter and all those other vile people were abandoned by the Republican party? Remember how Bachman and Inhofe and all those other insane members of Congress lost Republican support after they did and said so many crazy things time after time? No?

Democratic leadership has become an oxymoron. They either can’t or don’t know how to play the game. They concede, they resign, they compromise and they manage to alienate their base, independent voters, and the watching world time after time.

Tuesday millions of American school children will not hear President Obama urge them to stay in school and work hard at their studies because Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and Sean Hannity, to name just a few, succeeded in getting the Obama Dept. of Education to waffle and acquiesce and squirm and change their address and school boards across the country pulled out wholesale to avoid controversy. The strategy? Post the address on the Internet tomorrow! That will show those crazy, crying parents who weep and wail about socialist indoctrination! You know they will race to their computers tomorrow and when they hear Obama’s skilled oration they will suddenly be silenced!

Back in November 2008 I remember feeling hope for the first time in years. I remember thinking "Wow. Now we have a popular president with an amazing mandate, with huge popularity, with majorities in both the House and Senate. Now we can really start to clean up the mess of the last 8 years. Obama has his work cut out for him and it will be hard but we will be there to support and help him." I went to bed elated.

Now 8 months later I am dumbfounded. Obama negotiated with himself and produced a too-small stimulus and left the Wall Street banksters with the keys to the Treasury vault and I thought, well, he hasn’t gotten his leadership feet yet. Give him time. Then he backed off immediately from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and I thought, uh-oh. I read about continuation of the Bush administration’s policies on secrecy and extra-constitutional efforts and I remembered the promise of "transparency and change." I heard Arne Duncan start to spout Bush’s education policies and advocating Republican platform changes to public education and I started to cringe.

I won’t go on. It’s been done to death. Now that the president has decided to remain silent and above the fray while the rightwing crazies run the country. When the Republicans bluntly say on national TV that they have no intention of negotiating or voting for anything Obama and the Democrats propose, he shouts "More negotiating! More compromising!" and goes after his own base and progressives with a whip.

I really don’t know what to say or what to do. He has conceded the fight without entering the ring. He has pushed his supporters out of the arena and told us to be silent while ignoring the hate speech from the right and its congressional representatives altogether.

I fully expect to see more and more Obama administration resignations as Limbaugh/Beck/et al pick them off, one by one and the rhetoric gets ever louder and more obnoxious.

The dominoes are falling and I feel helpless about doing something, anything to stop the tumbling. I sign the petitions. I call my representatives. I donate to organizations running ads. I attempt to counter the idiocy in conversations. But I feel like it’s all a waste of time.

I want Obama to succeed. I want America to better itself. I want progressive change to come sooner rather than later. But I guess it takes smarter and better people than me to figure out how you get this done when the Democratic party continues to shoot itself in the foot over and over. Please tell me, and the millions of other confused voters, what do we do now?

Previous post

Primordial Grooves: Labor of Love

Next post

How to Misread the Lessons of 1994 Health Reform Failure