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Watch: How Obama Lost His Grass Roots Supporters – In A Nutshell

by on Friday, November 5, 2010 at 12:51 am EDT in Politics

Here is a CAN’T MISS discussion between Dylan Ratigan, Glenn Greenwald and Cenk Uygur on the contentious divisions which now exist between Progressives and the President (and the Democratic Party).  The three identify Obama’s ultimate betrayal — which underlies a series of more easily identifiable ones, including his deliberate undermining of meaningful health care reform, financial reform, political reform, etc.

They articulate how his chosen methods of governance conflict so fundamentally with his former populist campaign promises as to literally obliterate his credibility and his former identity as a change agent.  Herein lies the impetus for the Democratic Party’s midterm losses: their overnight transformation from change agents — ushered into power with a populist mandate — to status-quo agents.

Here’s some highlights of the discussion:

Glenn Greenwald: You can complain and object to all sorts of things, but if at the end of the day politicians know that you’re going to give them your undying and unconditional support, because the other side is just mildly worse, what you’re doing is you’re ensuring that you’ll be ignored.   But I think this election actually revealed some leverage, which is one of the reasons why the Democrats got destroyed, is because the base of the party — the people who put Democrats in power in the last two elections — didn’t bother to go and vote.  And the reason they didn’t bother to go and vote is because they weren’t given a reason why they thought it was worthwhile.  That is leverage.  That is telling the Democrats you will be out of power.  Not just in the House of Representatives, but in the Senate and the White House if you continue on this path.

[...]

Glenn Greenwald: [Obama's] whole campaign was based upon subverting that very system — namely that no matter who wins, Democrats or Republicans, the same special interests continue to prosper, while ordinary Americans suffer.  And the plan was that by assembling this highly energized, activated citizenry behind him — this army of people who believed in the change that he would bring — he could circumvent all of those power structures.  He could tell them that they could no longer have their way, because they couldn’t do anything to him, because he had this army of highly energized young voters, first time voters, and the like.  And they squandered that.  Instead of becoming the voice of populist rage, they became the target of it, because they became the agents of the status-quo rather than the agents of change.

Cenk Uygur: [Obama's] fundamental error was — we didn’t ask you to do change on the specific issues.  That’s great, health care reform, etc. that’s lovely, ok.  And there was some good wins in Pell Grants, etc. right?  We asked you to change the system.  That’s what you missed. [...]

Glenn Greenwald: … the real tragedy of the Obama Presidency is there are millions of people who had believed that the political process had nothing to offer them, who were turned away from it and wallowing in cynicism.  And they got convinced to put aside their cynicism for the first time ever — that there was really hope that they would be able to realize by investing themselves in the political process.  And that has come crashing down.  And I don’t see how it can be re-engaged, and the irony of the Obama Presidency –

Dylan Ratigan: Why not?  Why not?

Glenn Greenwald: — because people concluded that: “this , I thought, was the real chance that something would be making a difference, and if not even this worked, then I don’t ever believe anything will.”

Cenk Uygur: … I’m with Glenn.  There’s a great irony here, that the guy who sold us “HOPE” ultimately wound up robbing us of hope, and why?  Because this was our one chance.  Because the money power is so overwhelming, it is such a hard thing to fight, but he had amassed the army to fight it.  He had that army.  Let’s go, let’s do campaign finance reform, let’s change the way things are done so the lobbyists don’t own our politicians.  And he squandered it, so what hope do we have?  [...]

Glenn Greenwald: … I guarantee there are lots of people who are watching who are thinking “Oh, look at how impatient they are.  What did they think, that he was going to come in and fundamentally and radically change and improve Washington in two years?”  I don’t think anybody thought that.  I certainly didn’t.  I think everybody was in it for the long haul, was willing to have patience.  But the reason people are disappointed isn’t because he hasn’t succeeded yet, it’s because he’s not trying.  He’s doing the opposite.  Everything he accomplishes is by meeting in secret with the very lobbyists who he said he was going to dis-empower.   Everything that he does is intended to entrench the system rather than to subvert and undermine it.  So if he were actually fighting, everybody, including everyone at this table, would have all the patience in the world [...]

WATCH (in its entirety):

How rare it is to see candid discussions like this one, in the main stream media, giving an honest account for the recent Democratic losses — low progressive turnout — and then to expand on the WHY.

The Most Effective Way To Protest At The Ballot Box

by on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 5:57 pm EDT in Politics

Are you disgusted with the Democrats, and their cynical attempts at impeding the very ‘change’ they promised us in 2008?  We ushered them in with a clear mandate to make good on their promises, and once given complete control of the government, they’ve taken every opportunity to legislate the status-quo — all under the guise of ‘bipartisanship’.  As if voters are too dumb to understand that reconciliation has remained a tool available to them to actually legislate their promises into law.  When Republicans previously held a smaller majority in both houses, they used reconciliation repeatedly to enact all three of Bush’s major tax cuts which added trillions of dollars to our national debt.

That’s the kind of conviction we believed we were getting in 2008, when we put Obama in the White House and gave Democrats majorities in both houses.  Boy were we fools!

Ever since its passage, the Democratic Party has cited Health Care Reform as its greatest accomplishment.  Back in May, Speaker Nancy Pelosi ecstatically claimed:

“Healthcare reform is my proudest achievement in Congress,” she said. “But it would not have been possible without the leadership of President Obama.”

However, with the President’s job approval ratings plummeting, Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton complained recently that they aren’t getting their due credit from their base (whom his boss had previously referred to as the ‘professional left’):

there is some “frustration” in the White House that activists on the left are criticizing President Barack Obama for not being liberal enough instead of giving credit for his accomplishments, including health care reform. Still, Burton said the administration will continue pushing its agenda even if liberals don’t give them credit.

It is a bit ironic that what the Democratic Party feels to be its greatest achievement, Health Care Reform, essentially sent its own base packing.  And they feign feelings of ‘hurt’ and  ‘frustration’ by it all.  As if they don’t already know:

Candidate Obama promised his supporters a robust public option without a mandate.  Once elected, he immediately embarked on cutting back door deals with hospital groups (where he secretly promised them there would be no public option in the final bill), and with Big Pharma (where he secretly promised to oppose Congressional efforts to use the government’s leverage to negotiate drug prices downwards.  He also agreed to prohibit US citizen’s from re-importing drugs from Canada).  He then lobbied the Senate to drop the public option and any expansion of Medicare.

As if this weren’t bad enough, he additionally imposed a mandate on all American citizens, who would now be forced — or suffer financial penalty — to purchase expensive and crappy insurance policies (often with unaffordable deductibles and premiums) from the ‘for profit’ health insurance industry.  A HUGE gift to the very industry most Americans hold responsible for creating the worst and most expensive health care system in the world.

It’s clear that the Democratic Party is out-of-step with its own base.  The party shrewdly believed they could promise us what we demanded, meaningful change, and then ignore us once elected.  They used the straw men available to them, obstructionist Republicans and their Blue Dog cousins, to evade ‘Change’.  And President Obama’s call for ‘Change’ suddenly transformed overnight to a call for ‘Bipartisanship’ (his excuse for not using reconciliation to fulfill his campaign promises).  Obama supporters, they figured, would just blame the obstructionist Republicans for Obama’s abandonment of the platform he ran on.  Well, now they’ve discovered that in this new internet era, the blogosphere has made triangulation and political shell games very difficult for politicians to pull off.

Morale is low on the left, and many have concluded that Democrats no longer represent their interests.  So for those of you wondering what to do at election time this November, here are your options, along with my two cents on each:

1. Vote Democratic — reward them for screwing you over.  Nothing reinforces bad behavior quite like an unjust reward.  Result: Democrats get reelected and continue to screw us over, as clearly there are no repercussions for anything they do.

2. Stay home / don’t vote — Perfect!  Then the main stream media can interpret all the Republican victories as an indicator that the electorate wants Obama to move even further to the right.  Hypothetical headlines: “Americans Reject Obama’s Big Government Policies”.  Result: Obama and Democrats in Congress move even further to the right.

3. Vote for a Green/Independent left candidate on the ticket — Even if (s)he has a slim chance for victory, this is by far the most ideal method of sending a message.  Result: It’s a vote for the Left (the message can’t be misconstrued by the MSM), and it helps to strengthen (build momentum) for third party candidates. The defeated Democratic candidate will view that third party candidate as a ‘spoiler’ and the party will realize that for the next election in that state, they better move to the Left or lose even more detractors to independent parties.

4. Write-in ‘PUBLIC OPTION’. Assuming you ONLY have Republicans and Democrats on your ballot, and you’ve realized that option 2 (above) is not going to accomplish anything, what should you do?  Cast your vote for a ‘public option’ as if you are treating this election as a referendum.  Remind the party that is parading this HCR bill around like a trophy wife, that you are not voting for them BECAUSE of that very bill.  Result: If the MSM sees that the Republican candidate won 200k votes, the Democrat won 185k votes, and ‘PUBLIC OPTION’ won 16k votes, that sends a clear message that the Left protested this election.  It provides indisputable clarity that the Left abandoned the Democratic candidate, and instead wrote-in a HUGE Democratic betrayal in its place.  Imagine if the press were to report that the Democrat would have won this race had he won all the votes cast for ‘PUBLIC OPTION’ .

5. Write in whatever you want. Some commenters made the suggestion on TheMalcontent’s FDL diary (which introduced this ‘write in’ idea) — that voters should just write in whatever they want.  For example, if the wars are your main problem with the Democrats then write-in ‘Iraq’ or ‘Afghanistan’.  If you are out of work, and pissed about it, then write in ‘job creation’. Or if you’d prefer ‘Medicare for all’ then just write that in, instead of ‘public option’.  Result: You may potentially get more write-ins, but you will most certainly muddle the message, possibly to the detriment of the entire effort.

When the press gets ballot box results they aren’t going to report seemingly insignificant numbers.  For instance, if the Republican won 200k, Democrat 185k, public option 25, Iraq 4, Ralph Nader 1, medicare for all 7, Guantanamo Bay 6, Bush war crimes accountability 1, …  They’ll only report the bigger numbers.  The more numbers any single write-in gets the more you ensure it gets reported, and brought to the media’s attention.

For those of you who have reservations about writing-in ‘PUBLIC OPTION’, I’ll just say this: whatever the write-in is, please pick something that the Left, and specifically the Left, is furious about so that the MSM will disseminate the message correctly.  It’s crucial that if you decide to protest this election with a write-in, and get others to do the same, that you send a clear, simple, distinct message that can’t be spun into a victory for the Republicans or Glenn Beck.  For instance, ‘Obama must resign’ may be a popular write-in for some on the Left, but I suspect Tea Partiers who might hate the Republican incumbent option on their ballot, will take full credit for it, if it were to be successful.  Glenn Beck will be doing victory dances all week long.

We are striving for headlines the morning after which read something akin to, “The Left Abandons Democrats For Their Betrayal On The Public Option”, AND NOT, “Americans Reject Obama’s ‘Big Government’ policies”.  Essentially, we want this message to be one that makes Democrats feel the wrath of their base; the same ones they routinely call names, like ‘fucking retards‘.  We want Democrats to begin to govern to the Left, and fear the very ones who elected them.

We either control the message, or the media will happily create its own narrative for the Republican victories.  And as always, it will be a call for the Obama administration to move further to the right.  So if you were already planning on sitting out this election, please consider option #3 above, and if that’s not an option in your district/state then please consider option #4.  These are the two best strategies for insuring that the main stream media disseminates correctly that the Left played a huge role in Democratic defeats.