Moderates

July 20, 2012

My observation of today is that the large scale, society based horrible things that happen are not the fault of the fringe extreme. Yes, the wackanuts are the ones coming up with the bad stuff and driving it forward. But these are usually a minority. The problem comes about when the so called moderates let the nutters advance. Either by tepid opposition or by tacit approval, either way, the vaster middle is the gatekeeper.

I don’t much care for the unthinking moderate.

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No Responses Yet to “Moderates”

  1. becca Says:

    I don’t care much for the unthinking moderates of academia who defend the culture and create monsters like these.

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  2. Neuro-conservative Says:

    What are the “large scale, society based horrible things that happen”?

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  3. DrugMonkey Says:

    Oh and just to get this our of the way early “the Good German”.

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  4. Neuro-conservative Says:

    What are you talking about?

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  5. John Says:

    Pfff, and you are it. I recall seeing on the livestream a couple months ago someone speaking at an occupy open mic to summarize why he decided to put his energy and resources into supporting real change: I want to be able to tell my grandchilren I was the french resistance type, not the Good German. Did you support occupy in a way commensurate with the importance of what was going on? No. You are exactly the Good German he was referring to. Passivity and ignorance is all it really takes.

    Occupy is over now, gone, successfully repressed. Now what do you have? Obama? Yeah let’s see how far that gets you for real change, just like it did last time. You are complicit in every single one of the >400,000 deaths of the iraq war, and all other wars, and the >3 million starving American children in your own backyard, not just because of how you vote but because of your passivity to limiting yourself to voting, just like they told you to.

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  6. DrugMonkey Says:

    Occupy was pissy little brat offspring of the Boomers that caused this mess in the first place. Screw them.

    N-c, since it is you asking, the cancer of Republicanism. (but no, this observation is not tied to any particular Evil)

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  7. Mordecai Says:

    Occupy is over? “Pissy little brat offspring?”

    C’mon, you two. Google “Occupy Homes.”

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  8. DrugMonkey Says:

    John likely meant the Occupy failed to start TehRevolushunz and will now subside into just another leftie-ish political movement of uncertain effect.

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  9. DrugMonkey Says:

    And while many traditional political movements saddled up to the Occupy folks, the driving force was as I describe it. Kids in their 20s, privileged offspring of greedy spendthrift Boomer parents who finally realized, when exiting their overpriced collegiate cocoons, just how screwed their parents had left our country.

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  10. Hermitage Says:

    The Occupy movement’s mindset doomed them to failure, as evidenced by their problematic language use and refusal to listen to the advice of civil rights activists or Nobel Peace Prize winners.

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  11. Grumble Says:

    The cancer of Republicanism? Bah. I’m not convinced the Dems are much better. Obama had such an opportunity to implement progressive change, and he didn’t. What’s more, he is continuing the government secrecy and rights abuses of the Bush Administration (for instance, extrajudicial killings of US citizens abroad).

    Which is why I’m not voting for Obama. (And certainly not that twit Romney.) If rational people (i.e., those who realize Romney is a twit) want their politicians to listen to them, they had better stop putting up with “good enough”. It’s working for the tea party whacks; why not for sane people, too?

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  12. Isabel Says:

    “Oh and just to get this our of the way early “the Good German”.”

    And here I repressed the urge to make that analogy recently, in describing your stance, and that of all the other bored, passive, privileged, unseeing witnesses of the decades-long tragedy that is the drug war against the American people (N & S). You know, “they came for the pot-smokers, denied them (and their families) schooling, jobs and housing but I wasn’t a pot smoker so I said nothing” “they stopped and frisked 85,000 black and latinos in NYC last year but I’m not in their demographic so I said nothing” “it’s really not that bad plain old users don’t ever go to jail” “it’s the law, they took that risk when they did something illegal” “law enforcement is just doing their job, keeping us safe” “the police state is unfortunate but inevitable, anyway I have nothing to hide” etc. I figured I’d be skewered, but here you get away with it casually and even say “(but no, this observation is not tied to any particular Evil)”

    And really, it’s only Republicans that are “evil”? evil??

    “And while many traditional political movements saddled up to the Occupy folks, the driving force was as I describe it. Kids in their 20s, privileged offspring of greedy spendthrift Boomer parents who finally realized, when exiting their overpriced collegiate cocoons, just how screwed their parents had left our country.”

    And what is it about you that isn’t crazy right wing again? Oh yes, you are pro-diversity or something.

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  13. drugmonkey Says:

    Obama had such an opportunity to implement progressive change, and he didn’t.

    Obama has, to appearances, practiced a politics of radical moderation. I am not that happy with this. but you are insane if you think withholding your vote is the best way to get to a candidate that you prefer more than him or Romney in the conceivable future. The best way is to have a successful Dem 2 termer and then push even further left next time. If only Gore hadn’t fucked up by running away from Bubba….. sigh.

    And what is it about you that isn’t crazy right wing again?

    it is interesting that to you, anyone who isn’t with you on your microscopically narrow drug agenda is “crazy right wing”.

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  14. becca Says:

    Nah, if Obama needs my help this time around to win PA, he’s doomed anyway. I’m voting for Dr. Stein.

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  15. DJMH Says:

    Uh, confused, is this or is this not a discussion of what it means that the shooter had just been turfed out of his neuroscience grad program?

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  16. Busy Says:

    2008 Obama supporters are acting extremely childishly. I too did expect more from him**, but picking up your ball, going home and not voting helps the GOP far more than it hurts Obama.

    You are cutting your nose to spite your face and as a political message stands right next to pouting and going to your room in a huff.

    **and to be fair he pulled off two big ones that even the Great Bubba couldn’t: universal health coverage and gays in the military.

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  17. Grumble Says:

    I *am* picking up my ball and going home, and I don’t think I’m insane.

    I supported Obama enthusiastically 4 years ago. I sent money, wrote letters, etc etc. I would have been happy with the outcome if Obama were a true “radical moderate”, as DM calls him. But he’s not. Big fat Wall Street bankers really, really fucked us over. They lied to us, they comitted fraud, they stole from us, and they wrecked the economy to the point where everyone except them is hurting, and will continue to do so for years to come. Yet, the head cop (Obama) has done nothing whatsoever to call them to account. In fact, he has done the opposite: he has invited them to become his closest advisors, people with positions of enormous power in his government. This is not moderation. At best, it is abdication of responsibility. At worst, it is utterly corrupt.

    My conscience will not let me support someone who has sacrificed any sense of ethics for political expediency (more accurately, for financial gain – donations from Wall Street – in the service of political expediency). What we need is a candidate who recognizes that there is a correct and ethical path to take, and takes it. In the end, this will win votes, even if all of Wall Street supports the opposition. In 2004, Obama made himself out to be that candidate. Today it is clear that he is not. Therefore, I refuse to support him.

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  18. Busy Says:

    Yet, the head cop (Obama) has done nothing whatsoever to call them to account.

    Superlatives such as “nothing whatsover” are juvenile and speak to your state of mind. Next you are going to say that he was, like, the worst president _ever_, and carry on with your fit.

    Obama passed the Dodd-Frank bank reform bill in 2010. Just this year he called for more even more regulation.

    Therefore, I refuse to support him.

    and by not supporting him you are indirectly supporting Romney which is all you said squared.

    Obama might not have passed enough bank regulations, but I can guarantee you that Romney will roll back those and then some, but hey go ahead. Obama did not turn out to be 100% of what you expected so take your ball and go home. America will be better with the tax-dodger wall-street raider Mitt Romney at the helm.

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  19. Jim Thomerson Says:

    Years ago, I commented that then President to be Obama would not be as good as his supporters thought, nor as bad as his opposition thought; thus disappointing everyone.

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  20. Busy Says:

    Good quip Jim.

    I might add that ironically he has been somewhat better than his supporter’s give him credit for (see http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com) and not anywhere as bad as his opposition claims him to be (Muslim socialist who hates this country, as per the pill-laden thrice divorced “defender of marriage” Rush Limbaugh).

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  21. Grumble Says:

    Busy:

    Although Dodd-Frank has some necessary reforms, it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. And its passage certainly doesn’t mean that Obama has done anything whatsoever to call to account (i.e., prosecute) the fraudsters who caused the crisis.

    Go read this book and then, when you have been informed enough to know what the fuck you are talking about, explain to me again why I am “juvenile”.

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  22. Busy Says:

    explain to me again why I am “juvenile”.

    By voting left you push the country left.

    By not voting you let other people, such as Tea Parties, push the country to the right and further towards the interest dominated reality denounced by the book you cite .

    That’s why your proposed course of action is juvenile.

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  23. DrugMonkey Says:

    Obama has governed as he promised….a centrist who seeks consensus with the other side.

    Lefties are pissed *because they didn’t believe him*! They convinced themselves that surely he was just engaging in centrist rhetoric b/c he wanted to win the election and that he’d veer left afterwards.

    The right, of course, continue their Overton strategy of defining democrats who are as far right as, say Nixon (policy wise), as the most leftie of liberals.

    I’m tempered in my anger that Obama squandered his House dealing with a GOp that was never going to compromise, ever, on anything with him. Tempered b/c he seems like a pretty astute politician, given what he’s up against and it is his profession, not mine. Dude’s clearly smarter than me, in addition, so meh on the second guessing.

    If he wins a second term, he’s validated. If not, it’ll look like he wasted valuable time negotiating with the idiots on the right who would rather drive this country to hell then lose their precious tax cuts.

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  24. Busy Says:

    Obama has governed as he promised….a centrist who seeks consensus with the other side.

    Back in 2003 or early 2004 when I first read some of his writings/speeches, I realized that Obama was someone who had thought deeply about politics, about America and about the American people from a centrist perspective and had reached particularly insightful observations in the process.

    His book “Audacity of Hope” carried the same tone. In it, it was clear he wasn’t the typical politician going through a checkpoint list to satisfy the current electoral mood. He clearly believed in an outreach bipartisan program.

    This vision together with his excellent oratory skills made him eminently electable.
    I told all my friends back in 2004 that Obama would one day become president of the United States, which then was met with understandable skepticism.

    A few short years later during the 2008 campaign I found myself once again telling my friends that Obama was no radical, and that they should temper their expectations.

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  25. Busy Says:

    Tempered b/c he seems like a pretty astute politician, given what he’s up against and it is his profession, not mine. Dude’s clearly smarter than me, in addition, so meh on the second guessing.

    This.

    I was an armchair politician for several years, and would often find myself surprised at how come politician X hadn’t taken obvious action Y. Then I got an internship inside a higher up’s office and got to see all the internal conflicts and calculations that went into politics and how little margin for action there was once all variables were taken into consideration. In the end said politician did implement some major changes, but ten times as many were left on the table because we couldn’t gather the right coalition of players to push them forward.

    I stayed on the inside of politics for the next twenty years after that and I’m too very surprised at the actions taken by Obama. I personally would have recommended a different course of action had I been working for him. However, by the same token, I would never have seen a way to see healthcare reform through, nor would I have been able to design a campaign that would have gotten him the presidency in 2008 (back in 2003/4 when talking to my friends I was thinking 2012 at the very earliest).

    Because of this I give him the benefit of the doubt, and as DM says, I’ll reserve my judgement for when it is all said and done.

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  26. Grumble Says:

    “They convinced themselves that surely he was just engaging in centrist rhetoric b/c he wanted to win the election and that he’d veer left afterwards.”

    There’s an element of truth to this. But one can also see it the opposite way. The fact is that he promised a lot to the left that he didn’t even try to deliver – in fact, he delivered the opposite. For instance, he devoted (and still devotes) a lot of rhetoric to standing up for the average American against corporate and banking interests – and he’s done very little to live up to these promises. In fact, he invites the same shysters who wrecked the economy to run his Treasury Department and numerous other posts. There is absolutely no excuse for this: this is one thing he controls pretty much without having to get Congress to agree, yet even in this he panders to the right.

    ====================

    Busy, there are interesting behavioral experiments demonstrating that people are willing to punish others whom they think are cheaters, even when the subjects incur a cost to themselves to do so. Think about the potential evolutionary reasons for this. You might then come to the conclusion that my decision is actually rational, and not juvenile at all.

    Now let’s imagine that, instead of calling me names, you joined me in refusing to support Obama. And that millions more did the same. Suddenly we’d have a movement that Obama (and other politicians) would have to pay attention to. That is a better way to force a shift to the left than voting for people who repeatedly turns around and fuck you over. I, for one, won’t do it.

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  27. Busy Says:

    instead of calling me names

    I’m not calling you anything. I’m qualifying your proposed proposed course of action as juvenile. There is an important difference there.

    Anyone can be the smartest most mature person in the planet yet on occasion propose something dumb; pointing this out is not calling them names.

    Second, if I felt a one time punishment of the Democrats would right the political system I would be more than willing to support you, but it doesn’t work that way. The moment you choose not to vote they don’t give a fly’s fart about you. Which is why, for example, student loans go up all the time: young people don’t vote and therefore both parties feel free to “fuck them over” to borrow your choice of words.

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  28. DrugMonkey Says:

    Well of course Grumble. If you are on one side of a political party you have to promise a lot of stuff to the other side to get elected. Turnout and “independents” and whatnot. And those that want to believe, convince themselves that anything said that is on their side is truth and anything said on the other side is politics.

    Me, I heard centrism as Obama’s most core approach so I wasn’t surprised. I would have preferred more combat with the Republicans, first, and more commitment to leftie policy second. But I didn’t think I was going to get that given his campaigning and speeches. Nb- Hillary would have been the exact same deal. More centrist than the lefties deluded themselves she would have been.

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  29. ecologist Says:

    Grumble says “Now let’s imagine that, instead of calling me names, you joined me in refusing to support Obama. And that millions more did the same. Suddenly we’d have a movement that Obama (and other politicians) would have to pay attention to.”

    This is worse than juvenile. It is worse than stupid. It is criminally insane. Millions more people? Like the 2.9 million people that voted for Nader in 2000? Using the same deluded logic that there wasn’t really any difference between Bush and Gore? In my opinion, those people have blood on their hands. Lots of it.

    It will be very easy for the 2012 election to come down to small numbers of votes in small numbers of places. It will be very easy for a small number of people pissing and moaning about how Obama didn’t fulfill all their fantasies to make a very big difference. It’s time to stop pretending otherwise, and do what it takes to avoid an outcome that will make that list of “top ten things that I don’t like about Obama” look like nothing.

    So no, I won’t join you in refusing to support Obama. And I will vote, and I will encourage others to vote, and I will donate and volunteer to the extent that I can. And I will call your opinion as I see it.

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  30. DrugMonkey Says:

    the 2.9 million people that voted for Nader in 2000? … In my opinion, those people have blood on their hands. Lots of it.

    Exactly.

    And they were, politically speaking impotent. Where were the Naderian gestures the next time around? Were the top Dems falling all over themselves to bring back this part of the electorate? No they were not. The juvenile gesture won’t work this time, either Grumble.

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  31. Grumble Says:

    Oh, stop with the “juvenile, juvenile, neener neener neener”.

    Look. I am not proposing anything different, strategy-wise, than what the Tea Party has done. By refusing to support mainstream Repubs, they have powerfully shifted their party (and, in fact, the entire US political system) to the right. There is no reason why people on the left can’t do the same to the Democratic Party.

    Of course, the Tea Party has been able to field candidates who espouse their beliefs, and many of these have been elected. What is missing is an equivalent movement on the left that pushes for ideological purity, and is large enough and well organized enough to get things done. There is practically no one on the left who fills the roles of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, et al. Yes, these whackaloons were a parade of clowns during the primaries, but they (and the movements that support them) have had a powerful effect on American politcal discourse. They’ve succeeded in converting Romney from a relative moderate — remember it’s pretty much his health care plan Obama passed – into a politician almost as reactionary as they are.

    Counter to your groans about Ralph Nader, I submit that the absence of modern-day equivalents of Ralph Nader, Jessie Jackson, and Dennis Kucinich is extremely harmful. It means there is no pressure on the mainstream Democratic candidates to pay any attention whatsoever to the left wing. We’ve seen that with Obama’s policies and choices.

    But according to you, we should just roll over and support the least bad of all options. According to you, there is no alternative. But the alternative actually starts with the apathy of people like me. If Obama were truly scared of losing the votes of people who supported him in 2008, his policies would have been much different. But he can count on you to take a good fucking in the ass and love it.

    I’m not into that kind of masochism. And you know what? The entire country will suffer if people on the left continue to take it, ass in the air.

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  32. Busy Says:

    am not proposing anything different, strategy-wise, than what the Tea Party has done.

    Au contraire. You are proposing the complete and exact opposite of the Tea Party strategy. The Tea Party supporters always vote, both in the primaries and in the actual elections.

    The way they make their voice felt is by voting massively in the primaries, where their impact is magnified.

    So let’s recap:

    – Tea Party strategy is to vote massively in the primaries and then follow through in as much as possible in the actual elections, which has more or less worked for them (though in the process they might have made the party unelectable at a national scale).

    – Your proposal is not to vote for Obama but for Nader/Perot/Anderson instead, which didn’t work in 2000, 1996, 1992 and 1980.

    Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

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  33. becca Says:

    Does anyone know off the top of their head where those 2.9 million Nader voters were located? Were there any states other than Florida that were close enough the Nader voters would have made a difference? Would 12,665 votes in Florida have been enough that it wouldn’t have gone to the courts? Would any close elections outside of Florida with the Nadar boost have been called for the Dems rather than sent to the courts?

    I get the problem, really. And I didn’t vote for Nader in Florida, so it doesn’t hurt me if he *was* a spoiler.
    But it’s a simple fact that there weren’t 2.9 million Nader voters who were solely responsible for electing Bush. The blood is mostly on the hands of people that voted for Bush and those that didn’t vote at all. Heck, if you want to put disproportionate blame on somebody, the folks on the Supreme Court or the lawyers in the case or Al Gore’s campaign managers would all be excellent choices. However, putting disproportionate blame on Nader supporters is just fetishizing the center.

    “But he can count on you to take a good fucking in the ass and love it.”
    Tsk tsk. No need to disrespect those with alternative sexual preferences. How about “he can count on you to take a good anesthesia free unnecessary root canal and love it”. Really. Show a little creativity.

    Anyway, I have no general opinion whatsoever on “moderates”. When Republicans moderate, I like it, when the Democratics moderate, I hate it (Melissa Harris-Perry said essentially the same quite honestly and pithily yesterday, but I don’t have the exact quote). If you are operating from the progressive left and the democratic party disappoints you, it’s probably a good strategy to support alternative candidates outside of the presidency; turn out in force for the primaries; advocate the most extreme progressive position you can get behind in public debates (*that* is what shifts the Overton window- it’s about the debate-space, not the vote-space exactly) and yes, vote for non-democratic candidates for president if you aren’t in Florida.

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  34. Busy Says:

    yes, vote for non-democratic candidates for president if you aren’t in Florida.

    Or Ohio which ended up being the difference in 2004 or Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan or Nevada all of which have a non-negligible probability of being the tipping point state this time around like Florida was for Gore in 2000.

    But I insist, as a political organizer I can tell you that if you are sufficiently far to the left that you cannot get yourself to vote for my left-of-GOP party you are not in the war room’s radar.

    The people we seek are (1) those who already vote for my party, which I want to excite enough so that they canvass for us and (2) the people in the center who are hesitating about voting for one party or another.

    There are two ways to capture the latter. One, which is the preferred one by mediocre politicians, is to pander to them. The second is to explain your proposal in simple but not simplistic terms. To speak to them like adults in a non-condescending manner and have the candidate say “this is what I’m about, here’s the logic and sentiment behind my proposals; this is my vision for the country”.

    Like for example the two big Obama speeches during his campaign or the road campaign of Bill Clinton and Gore when they were down in the polls, which every other (mediocre) politician has tried to replicate since to no effect.

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  35. I am not proposing anything different, strategy-wise, than what the Tea Party has done. By refusing to support mainstream Repubs, they have powerfully shifted their party (and, in fact, the entire US political system) to the right. There is no reason why people on the left can’t do the same to the Democratic Party.

    You are very confused if you think that the Tea Party strategy has anything to do with presidential elections. The way to move the Democratic Party to the left is to push hard at the local and state level for election of further left Democrats, just like the Tea Party people did on the opposite end of the spectrum. Voting for a third-party candidate for president because the Democratic Party candidate is not far enough to the left is fucken deranged.

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  36. becca Says:

    Busy- Obama’s leading in all polls in Pennsylvania by at least 4%. Nevada comes close, but the Marist has him only ahead by 2% there, which is probably within margin of error (WHY does real clear politics not put the MoE on the numbers??? *hatred*)

    It’s always confused me when people refer to PA as a ‘battleground state” (I mean people aside from Ed Randell, who wants to be on teevee). It ignores recent track record and demographic realities. People have been fleeing to the cities during the recession, and PA is the essence of the claim ‘there are no blue states only blue cities’. Unless PA were a notable exception to either mega-trend it’ll be bluer than ever (relative to the rest of the country). Unless the voter ID law suppresses the vote that much, which is possible I suppose.
    If the election were held tomorrow, I’d predict with a P = 0.05 confidence level that a Pennsylvanian can safely vote for Jill Stein (i.e. I rate it as unlikely that Obama will loose PA, and EXTREMELY unlikely that if he loses PA, he would have won had it been ONLY for PA).
    Of course I’ll keep an eye on the polls, and I’m happy to vote for Obama if it looks like it might help, but I don’t see that as the most likely scenario at this time. But I canvassed for him last time, and not this time. So I probably should have been on his radar.

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  37. DJMH Says:

    I’ve never even heard of your 3rd-party candidate, becca, and I keep a reasonably good eye on politics. You move the ball to the left not by voting for some fringe candidate who won’t even make the evening news vote tally, but by getting further lefty people in the primaries. Though see also Sharron Angle.

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  38. Busy Says:

    becca, you are right that PA is more “in the bag” than OH, but keep in mind that a 4% lead is with the margin of error (though the lead has been consistent across several polls). As well a 4% lead in the polls means that 2% of people changing their mind is enough to create a tie. If you add a bunch of Obama supporters who might choose not to vote since “its in the bag” suddenly Obama could be in trouble.

    Indeed many Ohio polls predicted a Kerry victory all along, including for about half of voting day. This should give you an idea of how much confidence you can place on a 4% lead, namely, some but not a lot.

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  39. Busy Says:

    p.s.

    But I canvassed for him last time, and not this time. So I probably should have been on his radar.

    Very much so. A campaign gets really worried when the number of repeat supporters drops below a certain norm. The precise number varies by region, but certainly they do keep track when phoning old supporters of how many say they will support your candidate this time around.

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  40. becca Says:

    “I’ve never even heard of your 3rd-party candidate, becca, and I keep a reasonably good eye on politics.”
    A) Google is your friend
    B) listen to more NPR
    C) she’s the green party candidate. And if you are going to kvetch you’ve never heard of her, you’re only going to vindicate Rosanne Barr.

    Busy- as I mentioned, I’ll keep an eye on the polls. Still, if it were held tomorrow I’d be shocked if he didn’t win PA. Keep in mind it’s a *minimum* of a 4 point lead. It’s as high as a 12 point lead; depends on the poll. And, as I mentioned, there are very few things (aside from maybe taking a Stand on JoePa) that could make 2% of people change their minds in PA, but not impact anywhere else. Like I said, if Obama screws up that badly, I can’t help him.

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  41. DJMH Says:

    Google is indeed my friend. You’re going to vote for someone who has never held elected office higher than town council for President? Guess what, that in no way signals the “seriousness” of the left wing.

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  42. SafetyScissors Says:

    I’m pro-life, and yet I think big businesses have far too much power in US politics. Thus, there’s no serious way for me to express my preferences in the current election. The way I see it, as long as political power only swings back and forth between the Democrats and Republicans no real change will ever happen, and when both parties represent me so poorly, it’s hard to see why I should bother voting at all. A vote for Obama just because I dislike him slightly less than Romney is far less appealing than any vote or no vote that has even a small chance of stopping the pendulum from swinging mindlessly and endlessly between the two parties.

    It’s easy to criticize this position as being lazy or worse, saying that ‘spoilers’ are just as responsible as people who actually vote for a candidate. But when things as important as the US healthcare system are on the line, ‘playing politics’ rather than voting according to your beliefs and conscience is monstrously unethical. The fact that otherwise intelligent people would advocate *against* people expressing their sincere preferences at the polls indicates to me that politics in this country has become deeply corrupted and divorced from moral accountability.

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  43. Grumble Says:

    “Your proposal is not to vote for Obama but for Nader/Perot/Anderson instead, which didn’t work in 2000, 1996, 1992 and 1980.”

    I disagree that it “didn’t work.” As I already mentioned, the value (or perhaps, power) of fringe candidates is that, *if* enough people support them, the mainstream candidate has to pay attention. Which means remodel his/her policies to attract voters from the fringe.

    But this only works if enough people are willing to take a stand and support the candidate they really want, as opposed to the one expediency dictates they support. Unfortunately there are no such candidates in the current election, but that doesn’t mean Obama gets my vote automatically. He had 4 years to earn it, and he didn’t.

    ===================

    “The way to move the Democratic Party to the left is to push hard at the local and state level for election of further left Democrats, just like the Tea Party people did on the opposite end of the spectrum.”

    This is true. In fact, along these lines, I’m going to dedicate what resources I normally spend on presidential elections (e.g., donations of money) on Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for Senate instead of on Obama. Obama has enough support from Wall Street, so he doesn’t need mine.

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  44. Alex Says:

    The Republican base is good at knowing when to mercilessly go after their own party, and when to circle the wagons and go mercilessly after the other side.

    In primaries, they will ruthlessly punish anybody who is a nanometer to the left of Dick Cheney. (I exaggerate, but only slightly.) This keeps their party relatively pure.

    In general elections, they loyally proclaim that the election of a Democrat means the end of liberty in America. Their loyalty keeps the party strong.

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  45. Grumble Says:

    “… ‘playing politics’ rather than voting according to your beliefs and conscience is monstrously unethical. The fact that otherwise intelligent people would advocate *against* people expressing their sincere preferences at the polls indicates to me that politics in this country has become deeply corrupted and divorced from moral accountability.”

    Nice to see that someone understands!

    The problem is really the two-party system. Parliamentary systems with more than two parties have their problems, but apathy among voters because they feel no one represents their views is not one of them.

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  46. Busy Says:

    Safety-scissors:

    yet I think big businesses have far too much power in US politics […] and when both parties represent me so poorly, it’s hard to see why I should bother voting at all.

    All I can tell you is that if I got hired by some big business lobby with the mandate of ensuring that the status quo remains the same, one of the main strategies I would put in play would be “discourage disgruntled and/or well informed people from voting”.

    Grumble:

    but that doesn’t mean Obama gets my vote automatically. He had 4 years to earn it, and he didn’t.

    Is that because (a) he did less than any other president in recent history less than any other president you voted for in the past or (b) is it more because you cannot get over your disappointment that you misread how far to the left he was going to be?

    In my opinion in most cases when leftists complain about Obama they claim (a) but once you listen to their actual set of gripes it sounds way more like (b); to the extend that if the candidate had been, say, a hypothetical president Kerry running for re-election they would have gladly given him their vote with the exact same record.

    This is illogical and self-defeatist, but hey, it’s a free country. You can do as you wish.

    Like

  47. Grumble Says:

    Busy:

    In fact my apathy towards Obama is due neither to the fact that Obama accomplished less than other presidents or that he wasn’t as progressive as I expected. The former is the fault of obstructionist Republicans in Congress, and as for the latter, I didn’t expect Ralph Nader when I voted for Obama. Believe it or not, I read both of his books and followed his rhetoric closely during the campaign. Nothing he wrote or said led me to believe we’d have a new FDR.

    But then, nothing he wrote or said led me to believe that Obama would so completely incorporate Wall Street into his administration. This is something he didn’t have to do to curry favor with Congress or the American people. He did it for their financial support. The revolving door between corrupt executives in the financial industry and Washington is appalling and very damaging to the nation, and that Obama refuses to stand up to these shysters demonstrates a complete moral failure.

    On top of that, Obama’s policies with regard to Guantanamo, extrajudicial killings of US citizens abroad, drone attacks, etc are all out of line with what he promised during the campaign.

    Finally, Obama had a real chance to put in place a cap and trade system to do something, at last, about global warming. For a time there was sufficient support in Congress, but the Obama administration made some tactical blunders that ruined the chances of passage – or maybe he never wanted it passed to begin with.

    Oh yeah, and after the latest mass murder atrocity, Obama can’t even find the guts to mention that maybe we should regulate guns a bit more strongly – even though no one in the fucking NRA is ever going to vote for him.

    In short, Obama has acted without ethics, and his policies are not in line with my priorities. Had he gotten just one of the above first three issues right, I’d vote for him. Hell, if he had come out and condemned 2nd amendment whacks for what they are, I might have even reconsidered. But he didn’t, so screw him.

    Like

  48. DrugMonkey Says:

    Don’t forget marijuana policy, Grumbie!

    /whereisIzzieanyway?

    Like

  49. DJMH Says:

    Basically, the leftie anti-Obama thread can be summed up as: “I don’t like reality.”

    The most honest knock on Obama pre -08 was lack of experience. And you voted for him anyhow. His inexperience led him to make a few catastrophic errors, like bungling a golden opportunity for cap and trade, and relying on banker types who were too heavily tied to Wall Street’s fortunes. This is the sort of thing the Right was warning us about, although they perhaps didn’t realize how much it would work out in their favor.

    He’s also made some choices that are NOT errors, they are called picking your battles (e.g. not calling out the NRA, to inflame an issue that is relatively trivial compared to the major economic decisions that lie ahead).

    Now, four years down the line, he has a lot more experience. He’s taken a few shots at the bankers. If Lindsey Graham has a come-to-Jesus moment and there another opportunity for cap and trade, Obama is far LESS likely to bungle it. If the euro goes up in flames and starts to drag the US markets with it, I think he has gained enough confidence and experience in handling the economy that he’s LESS likely to make the rookie errors that led him to rely on the banker experts who cared mostly about their own asses. In other words, he is actually a better candidate *now* than he was in 2008, but your disappointment with his learning curve is such that you can’t forgive yourself for having voted for him.

    Like

  50. Busy Says:

    Grumble:

    You list a good set of complaints against Obama. We might argue here and there, but I think we agree that those parts were his weakest points. I still don’t see the logic in not voting for him and instead we get an even more pro-NRA Romney in the White House.

    The GW Bush term proved conclusively that however bad and grey your Democratic candidate might be (see Gore, Al; and Kerry, John), the republican candidate under the current Tea Party climate will be, literally, ten times worse.

    Like

  51. DJMH Says:

    ps, if you voted for Clinton in 1996, post “welfare reform”, but you can’t stomach the idea of voting for Obama in 2012, then you’re just kidding yourself.

    Like

  52. drugmonkey Says:

    you’re just kidding yourself.

    well, that’s *one* interpretation for the eXtreME disappointed phenotype on the left.

    another interpretation might connect it to the similar eXtreME anger on the right for a Dem who is turning out to be almost as good as they could possibly expect from the other party….

    It really is perplexing how a guy with a policy position that is in the (current) middle and who takes a determinedly centrist and compromise/consensus seeking tactical approach to politics generates such extreme distaste on both sides, isn’t it?

    Like

  53. Isabel Says:

    “Don’t forget marijuana policy, Grumbie!

    /whereisIzzieanyway?

    I’m busy making major scientific discoveries.

    But it’s a good question. Why did Obama have to increase prosecution of medical cannabis shops when he promised to leave them alone, and had full support of voters (75% want the shops left alone)? What happened? What about all the drug war reform he promised?

    It’s the lobbyists, who run the country, at work as usual.

    DM thinks this is normal police behavior in a democracy:

    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Long-Beach-Police-Pot-Marijuana-Shop-Raid-Arrests-Excessive-Force-Investigation-161366395.html

    Like

  54. Isabel Says:

    In the entire period of alcohol prohibition, did anyone ever receive a 12-year-sentence for selling a small amount of alcohol, intended for personal use? I’m curious to know.

    http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=14&articleid=20120720_14_0_GovFal129410

    “Because children were in Spottedcrow’s home when she was arrested, a charge of possession of a dangerous substance in the presence of a minor was added. Her mother, Delita Starr, was also charged with the crime, but she was given a 30-year suspended sentence so she could care for Spottedcrow’s four children while their mother was incarcerated.”

    All this over a substance that the government’s own commissions have repeatedly concluded does not warrant prohibition.

    Like

  55. Isabel Says:

    “your microscopically narrow drug agenda ”

    It is you who is looking through the microscope, concerned ONLY with the number of potential addicts related to your research into drug addition.

    Everything else, the record incarceration rates especially of African-Americans, the police corruption, the encroaching police state; the intrusive drug testing and the denial of jobs and housing and student loans affecting millions; the loss of personal liberties; the environmental destruction (esp in Latin America) and the drug cartels, 60,000 deaths in Mexico; making half of American adults “criminals” instead of following the recommendations of the commissions that investigated the situation at the governments own behest; the wasted billions; I could go on and on….yes, DM, I’m so narrow in my perspective!

    Like

  56. drugmonkey Says:

    ..yes, DM, I’m so narrow in my perspective!

    You called me a right winger because you fantasize (with little actual evidence) that my public policy goals with respect to drug legalization coincide with the right wing. My point was that even if this is true it is just one of many public policy issues that are available to define someone’s political geography. You, being obsessed with legalizing marijuana, define anyone who is not with you on that as a right winger. I find that narrow.

    Like

  57. Grumble Says:

    “The GW Bush term proved conclusively that however bad and grey your Democratic candidate might be (see Gore, Al; and Kerry, John), the republican candidate under the current Tea Party climate will be, literally, ten times worse.”

    Really? In what way? Let me see. Here are the things that matter to me, in no particular order:

    1. Science funding. Bush v Obama: No difference.
    2. Torture, extradjudicial killings, etc. Bush v Obama: No difference.
    3. Climate change. No difference.
    4. Paid lobbyists controlling the government. No difference.
    5. Gun control. No difference.
    6. Legalizing MJ (that’s for you, Isabel). No difference.
    7. Protecting the environment. No difference. (For instance, Obama wants a “balanced” energy policy, which means drill-baby-drill while China zooms ahead with developing solar technology.)
    7. Health care reform. OK, Obama has the edge with his Welfare for Insurance Companies Act. But Bush did enact a nice Welfare for Drug Companies Act.
    8. Gay rights. Woo-hoo, gays can now serve openly in the military (i.e., get killed fighting stupid wars we can’t win)! What an advance! In the meantime, gay people I know can’t marry the ones they love and get a green card. Fine, Obama has the edge, but practically speaking there is no difference to me or people close to me.

    Actually, DJMH, I don’t think this record is due to inexperience. It’s due to lack of moral fiber. Which brings me to DM’s “It really is perplexing how a guy with a policy position that is in the (current) middle and who takes a determinedly centrist and compromise/consensus seeking tactical approach to politics generates such extreme distaste on both sides, isn’t it?”. No, it’s not perplexing. Always taking the middle road means never taking a stand for what is right. Who respects that? No one – neither your friends nor your enemies. Even you Obama supporters admit you are holding your nose while you vote for him. And if you aren’t holding your nose – if you can’t detect the stench of hypocrisy – you aren’t paying attention.

    Like

  58. Isabel Says:

    “You called me a right winger because you fantasize (with little actual evidence) that my public policy goals with respect to drug legalization coincide with the right wing.”

    The similarity is the love of solutions via law enforcement. In the last discussion we *finally* established once and for all that you do support the current prohibition, and furthermore blame users, and not prohibitionist, for the cartel killings. But touche, I did throw out the right wing comment. Many on the right are far more tolerant than you are. But your opinion of OWS could have come straight from right wing radio or Fox News. btw things are quiet (though not “dead”) in the US admittedly, but are you paying attention to Mexico City, Quebec, Spain, Iceland…..? A lot of the perception comes from the MSM and continues on the blogs.

    Like

  59. DJMH Says:

    Ok, I just can’t let that one stand. Torture and extraordinary rendition *no difference*??? Are you effing kidding? Obama put an end to torture and to rendition. Also, and I am not sure why this didn’t make your list, but hello ending two wars rather than starting two wars, that is to my mind kind of important.

    Health care no difference?? You really think that covering a boatload of uninsured people through whatever means necessary is somehow no different from the status quo? *of course* we’d all like single-payer, but for chrissakes, this is progress.

    Science no difference?? Right, our dude hosts science fairs, and the other guy thought global warming was just God hugging us closer*, yeah, no difference.

    Gay rights no difference?? How fucking smarmy can you get, that because YOU don’t want to join the military, somehow anyone else who might want to is deluded. The military is a *giant* source of funds for a lot of people from impoverished upbringing who want out. Yes lots of those people end up getting maimed in our dumb wars. But there are a fair number of people who rely on the military to get training in stuff (including science!) that they wouldn’t have had access to as civilians.

    Also, way to somehow forget/ignore that he’s instructed DOJ not to pursue anything under DOMA any more. That is huge.

    * ok, Tina-Fey-as-Palin but c’mon, this is the internet.

    Like

  60. Isabel Says:

    “You, being obsessed with legalizing marijuana”

    Correction: I am obsessed with ending prohibition of cannabis. I hate all this police state crap.

    Try a thought experiment: what would change tomorrow if the prohibition was lifted? And all *political prisoners* (no other way to describe the prohibition- it is politically motivated) released and their records cleared?

    It’s already changing in Latin America. They have taken the lead, but the US is not far behind. So you will have to get with the program sooner or later, why wait and cling to your prejudices?

    Like

  61. Busy Says:

    1. Science funding. Bush v Obama: No difference.

    Obama increased funding by 30% in his first buget. He then asked that this amount be maintained in the next one but was rebuffed by the GOP. That’s quite a bit of a difference

    2. Torture, extradjudicial killings, etc. Bush v Obama: No difference.

    Funny how you jump to torture skipping the all the more important:

    2. Starting two wars (one of them whole unjustified): Huge fracking difference.

    Even your slanted point 2, there is a huge difference.

    3. Climate change. No difference.

    The Obama administration has moved many initiatives for alternate energy sources, including the failed Solindra as the GOP will remind you. Again how exactly is this no difference?

    7. Health care reform. OK, Obama has the edge with his Welfare for Insurance Companies Act. But Bush did enact a nice Welfare for Drug Companies Act.

    This was a good test for you. If you were honestly evaluating the facts you would have conceded this point as well as the next one. Health care and gay rights are two clear differences, but you cannot get yourself to admit it..

    Your argument is falling apart before your very eyes and you resorto a desperate “woo-hoo” to try to minimize this actual and very real difference.

    Like

  62. Busy Says:

    It really is perplexing how a guy with a policy position that is in the (current) middle and who takes a determinedly centrist and compromise/consensus seeking tactical approach to politics generates such extreme distaste on both sides, isn’t it?

    In my opinion much of the right’s opposition to Obama is sublimated racism/other in the guise of policy differences which as you point out are not proportional to their opposition.

    another interpretation might connect it to the similar eXtreME anger on the right for a Dem who is turning out to be almost as good as they could possibly expect from the other party….

    Could it be that people on the left who oppose Obama are venting repressed sublimated racism? He’s being judged with a harshness that was applied to no other president. Half as much criticism applied to GWB would have meant a landslide for Kerry in 2004.

    Like

  63. drugmonkey Says:

    Science funding. Bush v Obama: No difference.

    1) highly expensive wars of choice. 2) unbelievably, tax cuts. Why the heck do you think there is no money for science and we are in a desperate economic situation? no difference? are you mad? or just ignorant of recent history?

    there is no difference to me or people close to me.
    Fuck you. Really on that one. If you are only in favor of civil rights advances if they affect you or “close” people, you are a jerk. You should be in favor because it is the right damn thing to do. period.

    we *finally* established once and for all

    No, you didn’t. Save in your own mind..which was already made up. how convenient.

    your opinion of OWS could have come straight from right wing radio or Fox News.

    No it couldn’t have. Fox opposes the entirety of the Occupy positions vis a vis capitalism, extreme wealth differences and regulation. I do not. I simply despise what I see as the special flower whining of people who have grown up with every benefit of the political side which had put up with nearly anything because the GOP promised them lower taxes. And drove this country into the ground in doing so. It was their parents, true, but they benefited. and now, that they are going off on their own, they finally see what the costs were. fuck em.

    Like

  64. DrugMonkey Says:

    Well Busy I’m certainly down with the notion the right wing’s outsized anger/fear is due to their outrage that we have a black President.

    It is taking me considerably more effort to acknowledge that might be at the heart of the leftie version of extreme anger/disappointment. It reminds me of a brand of slavering Hillary Clinton supporter from the primary race that I tried very hard to excuse. (hey, first woman President is a BigFuckingDeal too. )

    I am pretty amazed at these Grumble types though….

    Like

  65. Busy Says:

    DM:

    In the past, just like you I had assumed that the Obama opposition was 1/3 disillusionment from unrealistic expectations, 1/3 his long learning curve on the bipartisanship issue and 1/3 his cool-as-a-cucumber style which makes him not brag at every turn about his actual accomplishments, e.g. no “mission accomplished” banners when we withdrew from Iraq, or when the Health care reform was passed, or when we finally got bin Laden (the amount of credit he took on this is nothing compared to what GWB would have done. Bush would have paraded down Madison Ave with Giuliani and the dead body of bin Laden on tow).

    But recently I’ve been running into one too many Grumble types which started me thinking that in some cases there might be more to the anti-Obama attitude than meets the eye.

    Like

  66. Grumble Says:

    For those who still give a shit about this thread of comments, I posted that provocative list not to make the point that a Romney-like alternative would not be different at all from Obama, but that the differences would be minimal – certainly not the “10 times worse” that Busy claims. My choice of wording was admittedly poor (“no difference”). Of course there are differences between Romney and Obama, but my point was that as a practical matter, for most people (me included), the differences aren’t that great. To take just one example, sure, Obama did initially advocate for more science funding, but it didn’t pass. So, practically speaking, what’s the difference? This applies to almost every single issue, with a few exceptions (health care and willingness to start stupid wars being the major ones).

    I’m not making the claim that Romney and Obama are equivalent and therefore it doesn’t matter whether one votes or not. I’m making the claim that the differences aren’t great enough to justify voting for someone who has shown some serious flaws in his moral character. DM mentioned the irresponsible and obscene Bush tax cuts and wars. But the ongoing financial crisis and recession has done just as much to harm tax revenues (not to mention our very economic livelihood) as all those tax cuts and wars. And what is Obama’s response? To hire the very same people whose fraud and greed caused the crisis to make and implement his administration’s policies with regard to the crisis.

    To my mind, this is criminal. I can’t hold my nose and support someone who has shown such complete disregard for ethics. If Romney wins, it won’t be nice, but will it be a catastrophe? Please. Wall Street has already caused one catastrophe. Now that it runs the country like its fiefdom, more catastrophes are inevitable. This will be the case no matter whether Romney or Obama is elected. Because of this, I am not going to support any politician that does not take a clear stand against the political power of corporate and financial interests.

    ====

    “there is no difference to me or people close to me.
    Fuck you. Really on that one. If you are only in favor of civil rights advances if they affect you or “close” people, you are a jerk. You should be in favor because it is the right damn thing to do. period. ”

    Relax. I didn’t say I’m against what Obama did with gays in the military. I’m most enthusiastically for it. The policy is a start, but only that. And by the way, Obama had to be dragged to it by Biden and others. For too long he lets his misplaced cautious moderation (WHOSE vote did he think he was going to win by being so cautious?) trump doing what’s right.

    Like

  67. DJMH Says:

    Relax. I didn’t say I’m against what Obama did with gays in the military. I’m most enthusiastically for it. The policy is a start, but only that. And by the way, Obama had to be dragged to it by Biden and others. For too long he lets his misplaced cautious moderation (WHOSE vote did he think he was going to win by being so cautious?) trump doing what’s right.

    Again, your ignorance is taking you down. DADT recall was something Obama was working on for literally years, slowly pulling the JCOS around so that the thing would originate with the military itself rather than be criticized as an executive order that caused chaos. That way, even the republicans couldn’t do anything about it. That’s called *tactics*. Obama on gay marriage was clearly working up to it and Biden just pulled the trigger a little early. Whatevs.

    As the great man (Jack Aubrey) says, you must always choose the lesser of two weevils.

    Like

  68. Busy Says:

    and Biden just pulled the trigger a little early.

    It might even have been a trail balloon to see if Obama could announce this pre-election. Trial balloons are standard practice across all administrations and if there had been heavy push back the administration would have said “Oh, that’s Biden’s personal opinion, you know how he shots his mouth off all the time. We have no intention or plan to change this at this time”.

    Like

  69. DrugMonkey Says:

    Obama was working on for literally years, slowly pulling the JCOS around so that the thing would originate with the military itself rather than be criticized as an executive order that caused chaos.

    And this illustrates perfectly, becca, the difference between Obama’s centrist, consensus building political tactics and his pursuit of policy which, in this case, is historically quite left wing and currently left of center by some distance.

    Like

  70. becca Says:

    DM, if 67% of people supported repealing DADT, how is that “left of center” and not just “center”?
    If 54% of people support marriage equality, how is Obama “left of center” when he hasn’t put that on the agenda at all?

    It’s always possible that the current poll numbers are only possible because people have changed their mind because of Obama; that he has thus had a massive impact and really did help build a consensus.
    Certainly there’s some chunk of people that would not have changed their minds on the issues over the last few years if we’d had a McCain presidency. You can credit that to directly to Obama. And somebody needs to write a sociology dissertation on how despite the lack of obvious revolution over the past few years, there has been such a remarkable sea-change in public opinion (cause I’m pretty sure nobody ever watched Will and Grace).

    I realize that these numbers represent massive change from some (*cough*old*cough*) people’s frame of reference, but the fact of the matter is gay rights went mainstream over the past few years. Repealing DADT in 2010 thus does not qualify as a left-of-center act. It’s a laudable act, and I’m willing to credit Obama for changing a lot of hearts/minds on this one, but I can’t see it as a left-of-center act. Maybe left-of-baby-boomer-center? Or left-of-African-American-center? Or male-left-of-center?

    Like

  71. dsks Says:

    Alex said, “The Republican base is good at knowing when to mercilessly go after their own party, and when to circle the wagons and go mercilessly after the other side.

    In primaries, they will ruthlessly punish anybody who is a nanometer to the left of Dick Cheney. (I exaggerate, but only slightly.) This keeps their party relatively pure.”

    That’s not true, though. Neither the hard social conservatives nor the hard Tea Party conservatives (or the confused ones that maintain they are both) have succeeded in getting their folk through a presidential primary. Bush Jr was a moderate. McCain and Romney are moderates. Of course, McCain picked Palin because even he also fell for the conventional wisdom that there were a lot of folks out there looking for that kind of politician, and we know how that went down.

    Like


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