The Most Effective Way To Protest At The Ballot Box
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.
This November, Write-In “Public Option”
I met up with Stan at The Seminal at FireDogLake (FDL).
I’d recently written about the rationality of we on the Left strategically boycotting the upcoming midterm elections, and had continued pushing that notion in the comments of a diary by Democratic Party flack Jason Rosenbaum, seeking help in those elections from we who had given his co-opted little party the Congress and White House on a silver platter just two years ago. In that same diary’s comments, Stan suggested that a strategic write-in campaign, rather than a strategic boycott, would be even better.
And he’s right.
The resulting diary follows. (See it on FDL here.)
Reclaiming the Democratic Party for the American Left
By: themalcontent Wednesday September 8, 2010 11:42 am
Even as elements of the faux-Left media machine crank up their efforts to minimize the inevitable losses Democrats will suffer this fall, a few diaries in the last week […] at FDL have helped crystallize what I believe could prove an effective strategy by which the American Left might reclaim the party from the DINOs who have so thoroughly and blatantly co-opted it.
The search for a credible, irrefutable way to give voice to our frustration has bubbled up in direct proportion to failure of the Obama Administration – and its Democratic Party majorities in both houses of Congress – to lead, since Inauguration Day 2009. So the diaries I’m about to reference contain merely the latest and perhaps most clear statements (to date) about what form such a statement might take, and are not meant to diminish or negate all the deep thought and dedication to progressive ideals so many here have expressed since the 2008 election.
The first, posted last Wednesday by Bill Egnor, prompted this one from me, over the weekend. Yesterday, I shamelessly whored that admittedly hastily assembled diary on several threads on both the main page and here at The Seminal. Then Jason Rosenbaum posted this, and the comments indicate to me that perhaps something resembling critical mass is near.
TheCallUp’s comment on Jason’s diary was my lightbulb moment, and appears to have been one for others. Not merely a boycott of the two major parties by those on the Left, but a way to register our displeasure, one that resists the Coakley-esque parsing which DINO flacks perpetuated – that’s what’s needed.
While writing-in “public option” or “single payer” or “Medicare for all” (h/t to alternateid), or “John Q. Public Option” (and maybe “Jane Q.,” to differentiate male and female voters?) – and I think we must all agree on one of these, or another that relates to the massive health insurance reform FAIL, so as to further reduce any possibility of parsing – the mere act of writing it in won’t get us where we want to go. If the goal is reclaiming the Democratic Party for the American Left, we need to make clear how we’re doing it, why we’re doing it, and what we expect to happen next. Without a clear, succinct statement of our goals, we will be marginalized by the sycophants and we will fail.
Having just elaborated on How we’re doing it, I’ll again state, below, the other elements I believe critical (for ease of reference as we discuss this initiative further in the comments):
Why we’re doing it: Because Barack Obama has failed to lead based on his 2008 stump speech, and Democratic obstructionists within his administration and the Congress are complicit in that failure. To have even a hope of keeping the White House in 2012, we insist Obama begins leading based on his campaign. If he does, we might, in 2012, even give him a majority in both houses of Congress once more. But that majority will not include anyone who thinks or votes like Joe Lieberman, Bart Stupak, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, and other duplicitous DINOs.
What we expect to happen next: On November 3, the massive Democratic loss still stinging, Obama must fire Rahm Emanuel, Tim Keane, Robert Gibbs, and Tim Geithner, and replace them with Russ Feingold, Dennis Kucinich (or Dr. Dean), Al Franken, and Elizabeth Warren respectively. Further, Warren’s counsel – alone – determines who will head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Note: If Larry Summers has a problem with any of this, he can hit the fucking pike, too.)
And: On November 4, Mr. Obama addresses a joint session of Congress. In the somber, serious-as-a-heart-attack five-minute speech – two minutes is better – he creates by executive order, as Congress looks on, a public works program which mirrors the WPA, but in 2010 proportion to FDR’s 1935 model. He blunty states, with the wolrd watching, that a vote against funding it is a vote against putting Americans back to work. While he’s at it, he signs another order, ending DADT. Finally, he demands legislation outlawing corporate personhood, in similarly blunt fashion: “Refusal to do so will make quite clear which of you work for real people and which work for phony ones – and, I’ll venture, will subject you who work for the latter to the same kind of popular revolt my party has just undergone.”
In closing this diary, I’ll add one more thing: A lot of people have been saying for a long time that the Internet will change politics forever. It almost did in 2008. We now have a chance to actually make it happen, and (respectfully disagreeing with TheCallUp) we don’t need MoveOn to promote it, at least not yet. In fact, the more obvious it becomes that this has truly bubbled up from independently thinking Dems and Progs, the less it opens us to Righty accusations of being an astroturf org like the teabaggers.
So: What HCR-referencing phrase or name can we all agree is best to write in? And, will you commit to e-mailing at least 20 people and/or blogging your support of this initiative at one lefty blog, in order to help get it going?
Remember, we must move quickly: The campaign season is under way.