So How Do We Influence Democrats If We Dutifully Support Them?

Maha argues that claiming there’s no difference between Romney and Obama is stupid: there are differences and they do matter (even if Obama is a Rockefeller Republican, that’s better than someone beholden to the batshitloonitarian theocrats). Having grown up and lived in VA, where the choice was always between the de facto Republican and the theocratic segregationist, I do realize that the GOP alternative is almost always worse. Anyone who says otherwise is simply showing a lack of imagination.

So claiming Obama is equivalent to Romney is stupid. But there is a legitimate issue that needs to be raised, and that I haven’t seen seriously addressed. How do we put pressure on Democrats, including Obama, unless we draw some clear lines in the sand and then walk when they cross them? What are the levers we can pull to move someone like Obama? Put another way, why does the GOP (and on occasion, the Democratic Party) fear the Tea Party and the theocrats far more than the Democratic political class fear moderate, never mind liberal, Democrats?

Other than turning our back on them during elections and foregoing other support, how else do we get them to occasionally throw those of us to the left of Heath Shuler and Ben Nelson a bone? There is a legitimate argument to be made, especially since the Democrats routinely curl up into the fetal position when someone just looks at them funny, that they will only listen to and respect those who cause them pain. It seems to have worked for LGBT activists.

Yes, Obama is better than Romney. But if we always take loads of crap and then regardless show up and vote dutifully, if sullenly, then how do we get what we want (at least some of the time)? Moderate and liberal Democrats can’t compete in terms of fundraising, so the only thing we have left–for now anyway–is the vote.

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9 Responses to So How Do We Influence Democrats If We Dutifully Support Them?

  1. Rich S. says:

    You’re right the only thing we have is the vote. That’s why I chose to withhold mine this year. I voted for Obama last time, but not again. I live in KS, so it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s not a solution, nor is it the right thing to do, but I don’t know how else to send this message to the democrats. I guess I don’t have an answer to the question of how to get the party to pay more attention to our poor excuse for a base. No one will ever fear us like they do the tea baggers. That’s laughable.
    I agree that Romney will be much worse. Any Republican would be.
    Maybe after a few years of right-wing lunacy running the country, more people will realize just how nuts, and extremist the right has become. I think that nothing ever gets fixed until it becomes completely broken. As a country, we are sick, but not yet completely broken, and have not yet hit rock bottom. Maybe Romney is what we need to get there so we can turn ourselves around later.

    • Leo says:

      “Maybe after a few years of right-wing lunacy running the country, more people will realize just how nuts, and extremist the right has become. … Maybe Romney is what we need to get there so we can turn ourselves around later.”

      I’ve been hearing that sentiment since Reagan. The problem is that people never do realize just how nuts, and extremist, the right has become. Hell, people don’t even seem to remember events that happened less than a decade ago, or at least not without the carnival fun house mirror distortion of the right wing media.

  2. johnkrehbiel says:

    I think Rick S has hit on a good point. Democrats in competitive races need to see that they will lose the support of liberals when they take us for granted and quit trying to compete for conservative voters.

  3. Dave Dell says:

    We have more than withholding our vote. We have withholding our campaign contributions (however small) and withholding our volunteer efforts. I will sit on my hands before I will vote, give money or volunteer for other than a progressive Democrat.

    • Dave Dell says:

      Oh, and I will let them know how I feel. It’s remarkably like going into the streets and shouting, “I don’t like anchovies on my pizza!” But it’s all I can do.

  4. dr2chase says:

    I would say, work like hell in the primaries for the most liberal candidate you can get, and then wholeheartedly support whoever gets chosen. Because right now, if you don’t elect a weak-tea Democrat, you get a rat-poison Republican.

  5. A says:

    This is an important discussion.
    Rich:”Maybe after a few years of right-wing lunacy running the country, more people will realize just how nuts, and extremist the right has become. ” I am afraid not so, Bush was elected for his second term, and the ‘main-stream media’ disinform the electorate.– dr2chase has it right; support the most liberal Democrat you can get. If your vote makes no difference, because you do not live in a swing-state, you may try voting for a fringe party (Nader, Greens, Peace and Freedom…), but be sure that that doesn’t mean your vote puts a Republican over the top.
    And then, try educating your fellow citizens: write letters to the editor, petitions for liberal causes.
    A big problem I see is that Republican supporters are tribal, and very willing to believe misinformation (which the media never corrects clearly). (Just heard from sister-in-law: “Democrats raised taxes;” I say: “Obama did NOT raise your taxes;” answer: “Yes, but they normally do”).

  6. David says:

    I suspect that liberals uniformly have a higher voter turnout, so the impact of their discontent on the election isn’t great. They turn out either way, and vote the same. But the right-wing may have inherently lower turnout, so that the ability of a republican candidate to win is heavily based on his or her ability to mobilize the right-wing base.

  7. Tim says:

    I’d argue the problem is less the right wing nuts (as in, let them run the country for awhile and see people revolt) and more the economic status quo. The group of people that run this country use the nuts (and the accommodating Democratic base) to get elected. It’s that simple. But whether it is Obama or Romney, you can rest assured we will get more de-taxation of extreme wealth (the Buffett Rule is a joke when you look at tax rates circa 1945-1980 when everyone benefited), de-regulation (endless mergers like US Air and American Airlines which concentrate power and destroy jobs and wages), and suppression of wages. Those policies are guaranteed regardless of who you vote for. This has been true at least since 1992 when Clinton ran, twenty years ago.

    The real challenge is to break up the status quo. While the media makes a big fat target (and many editors and journalists will, when confronted with facts, change their reporting to at least be fair), the real problem is campaign finance reform. I have no idea what reform is needed, on a policy level, but it is clear the status quo benefits from Citizens United, buying politicians with jobs for their staffs, and all the rest. Fix how campaigns are funded and you might begin to see a more level playing field.

    My belief is that this level of corruption is unsustainable. You can’t have two legal systems, for example, one for the connected and one for everyone else, and not expect fraud and economic collapse. You can’t suppress wages without driving the economy into the ground. You can’t de-tax extreme wealth without creating millions of people with nothing to lose (people who tend to riot when pushed). We’ve been spared that fate, so far, due to the social safety net. But Obama has already cut Social Security several times, through payroll tax cuts, putting that bit of funding through the general funding of the government (which is politically driven, as it should be). And obvious solutions like applying the Social Security payroll tax to all income, which would make the program viable for generations, is never mentioned. So it’s unclear if or how long the social safety net will hold.

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