The news that Senate Democrats have struck a bargain with Senate Republicans to block Obama nominees and prevent President Obama from making any recess appointments while senators are back home campaigning for the midterm elections presents a good opportunity to take a moment and really consider what might happen if Democrats end up letting Republicans win big in November.
Vice President Joe Biden recently "admonished" the progressive base to "stop whining." President Obama, in an interview with Rolling Stone, said it would be "irresponsible" and "inexcusable" for disillusioned liberals to stay home on November 2nd and people need to "buck up" and "shake off this lethargy." Other Democratic leaders from federal and state government have gone on television expressing their opinion that the last thing disgruntled voters should do on Election Day is not vote because, as Biden has called them, the Republican Tea Party would take over government.
A number of individuals who publish commentary on the web have made good points about this absurd campaign strategy. Jane Hamsher suggested Obama and Democratic leaders are working to set up "a fall guy for November." Her reasoning is that Obama is distancing himself from progressives in the same manner that his administration distanced itself from Arlen Specter and Martha Coakley and has distanced itself from Blanche Lincoln.
Greg Sargent outlined the progressive strategy to hold the Obama Administration's feet to the fire and wrote:
"Their argument is that laying down markers on core liberal priorities has a way of expanding the field of what's politically possible. And even if expanding that field was never realistic, they argue, Obama would be in a better position anyway if he'd fought more visibly for those core priorities, because rank and file Dems would know what it is they should go out and vote for on Election Day. These critics are rejecting the ingrained Beltway notion that you should never fight for something when you might lose."
Sargent then added it would be "far better to think clearly about what these arguments actually are" and "grapple with them head on." Indeed, it would, but as Glenn Greenwald pointed out in his post on the White House's messaging:
"The country is drowning in a severe and worsening unemployment crisis. People are losing their homes by the millions. Income inequality continues to explode while the last vestiges of middle class security continue to erode. The Obama civil liberties record has been nothing short of a disgrace, usually equaling and sometimes surpassing the worst of the Bush/Cheney abuses. We have to stand by and watch the Commander-in-Chief fire one gay service member after the next for their sexual orientation. The major bills touted by Obama supporters were the by-product of the very corporatist/lobbyist dominance which Obama the candidate repeatedly railed against. Rather than take responsibility for any of this, they instead dismiss criticisms and objections as petulant, childish, "irresponsible whining" -- signaling rather clearly that they think they're doing the right thing and that these criticisms are fundamentally unfair."
Many Obama believers thought that outspoken critics needed to "give Obama a chance." Some have suggested Obama is trying but change comes incrementally and is slow so we have to be patient. There have also been those who have said people should not "make the perfect the enemy of the good," a phrase uttered to create support for Obama's compromises with lobbyists, Republicans, or corporate interests. And, there have even been Democrats willing to suggest he cannot do what he wants to do or else he might be assassinated.
Nearly two years into his presidency, now is the time to address whether Obama is really not on the side of corporate interests. Now is the time to really assess whether Democratic leaders in the party will ever do for the people what should be done. And, now is the time to assess these fears about Republicans and attach some uncomfortable truths to the list of fears that are being manufactured by Democratic talking point spin-doctors.Will Republicans Really Bring this Democratic Republic One Step Closer to Total Collapse?
Growing conventional wisdom among Democratic strategists and Obama believers suggest the following will happen if Republicans win big in the midterm elections: government will be shut down to stop the health care bill, attempts to privatize Social Security will be made, Republicans will spend every waking hour investigating the Obama Administration, the 14th Amendment will be repealed, cap-and-trade will not pass, more disastrous economic policies will be put into place, food stamp programs will be killed or drastically slashed, equal rights for gays will be rolled back or repealed, the unemployed will be abandoned, and an entire branch of government will be paralyzed.
This list would be an easy tool to get Americans to get out the vote (GOTV) for Democrats if it weren't for the fact that Democrats have been complicit and involved in various items on this list.
First off, on repealing the 14th Amendment and rolling back or repealing equal rights for gays, there is evidence of a divide among Republicans on this issue. The loudest of the Republicans may be getting all the attention, but keep in mind that former Bush Administration officials have been saying it would be a big mistake if they repealed this amendment. Cesar Conda, former domestic policy adviser to Cheney, called the proposal, "offensive." Former media adviser to Bush's two presidential campaigns, Mark McKinnon, said, "The 14th Amendment is a great legacy of the Republican Party. It is a shame and an embarrassment that the GOP now wants to amend it for starkly political reasons."
On the Fourth of July this year, Jeb Bush co-authored an opinion editorial that ran in the Washington Post, which called upon Americans to do more to "welcome immigrants" into America.
On gay rights, recall how Ted Olsen made a "conservative case for gay marriage" in August. That alone presents evidence that there is a growing group of conservatives willing to allow gays to have rights in America.
Unfortunately, Democrats and President Obama have not done much to shift the consensus on rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in America. Obama has contradicted himself by expressing his view that he is a "fierce advocate" for gays and lesbians and then asserting that he is opposed to same-sex marriage because marriage is between a man and a woman. Even worse, in a legal brief filed in June 2009, Obama's Justice Department "compared gay unions to incestuous ones and that of an underage girl in the sense that states have the right to not recognize marriages that are legal in other states or countries." This happened days before the Democratic National Committee was to hit up the LGBT community for cash in a fundraiser featuring Biden (perhaps, he told them to "stop whining" then, too).
If Obama's election has proven anything, it is that politicians will try to be whatever they think they can be and attempt to please all voters so that they can get the most votes possible in America's winner-take-all electoral system. There must be some consideration to the fact that outlandish rhetoric about gays and immigrants is all about kicking around wedge issues to turn voters out in November. After all, did the Federal Marriage Amendment get passed and enacted under President George W. Bush? No. Republicans said what needed to be said to get voters to the polls in crucial states like Ohio during the 2004 Election, but little action against gay marriage transpired afterwards.