Will there be an insurmountable enthusiasm gap due to the unwillingness or inability of Obama and the Democrats to effect reform?
Will voters appreciate the subtle and technical achievements of the Obama Administration, especially with regards to avoiding an economic depression?
Furthermore, will Independents believe conservative talking points about the supposed evils of government? Specifically, will they realize that we need regulation, Social Security, entitlement programs, government-funded research, progressive taxation, and periodic stimulus programs?
It all comes down to marketing. Which side can sell their story to the gullible and not always smart American people?
But to market a product, it's best if you have a good product to sell. And in November this means: did the Democrats deliver good legislation -- or at least try?
For sure, a lot of the blame for the Dems' failures to pass progressive legislation lies with the intransigence, venality, and evil skill of Republicans. They've blocked most bills in the Senate. Moreover, they've been masterful at misleading the public about political choices, making it very difficult for Democrats to market their ideas to the American public.
But Democrats can't pretend that at least some of the blame doesn't lie with President Obama, his lackluster and bipartisan (conservative) leadership, and the corporatism and corruption of some Democrats.
By refusing to prosecute Bush-era criminals, and by repeatedly welcoming conservatives and Bush holdovers into his Administration and into his policy negotiations, Obama has largely erased the differences between Democrats and Republicans. He's hidden the truth from the public and failed to educate Americans about the dangers of conservatism. His bipartisanship directly aided the enemy and also made it much harder to convince Independents that the Dems are better. So he largely has himself to blame for the enthusiasm gap. If Republicans take over the House and subpoena him for impeachment, it'll be hard not to laugh and cry.
Most progressives understand the need for government and the evils of the Republicans. But for them, a main topic of discussion has been: what to do about President Obama's conservatism and unwillingness to lead? Many progressives actively want to punish Obama and the Democrats for their betrayals. This bodes poorly for the Democrats' chances in November.
I too share that desire to see accountability for Obama, as I've discussed here and here. Indeed, just as George W. Bush caused depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness for millions of progressives during the previous administration, Obama's mysterious sellouts have caused renewed distress and despair for progressives in this election cycle.
On the other hand, I sure don't want the Republicans to win in November! Bloggers, columnists and facebook acquaintances keep asking progressives like me to lay off on Obama til after the election. Should I do it? Can I do it?
I understand that the Republicans really are much worse than the Democrats, especially on women's rights, tax policy, regulation, and corruption. The Republicans would actively try to dismantle the New Deal and would eagerly turn government over to the corporations. The Democrats at least have some conscience.
Moreover, the Democrats are not monolithic! There are many good and middling Democrats, in addition to all the Democrats-in-Name-Only. In contrast, the Republicans are pretty damn near universally bad; witness their almost perfect record of unanimous opposition to Democrats' reform bills in the Senate. On numerous issues, even on war funding, many Democrats oppose Obama. See this article.
Punishing all the Democrats for Obama's betrayals is unwise and uncalled for. It would be akin to Bush's misdirected invasion of Iraq as punishment for the 9/11 attacks.
Or it's like libertarians who see government waste and corruption and want to get rid of the SEC, the EPA, and the FDA.
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