Naderized

>> Monday, July 12, 2010

Salon and Politico have pieces up now about the left's angst over the Obama Administration. Both pieces are essentially trying to gage how much impact left-wing dissatisfaction will have on the Obama Presidency. I'm guessing "not much," and for reasons a bit more immediate than either Steve Kornacki (Salon) or Abby Phillip (Politico) get at.

Let's say at the outset that I'm one of those angsty liberals who has some issues with the progress or lack-thereof of the Obama Presidency. I'm not happy that Gitmo is still open, that we're still in Iraq and Afghanistan, that Obama evidently didn't clean up the cesspool of corruption and incompetence that was the Bush-era Minerals Management Service, that healthcare reform didn't go far enough and seemed to be compromised from the get-go, and I'm sure there's something else that will be bothering me before the day's over; let's just say I'm not wholly satisfied with this presidency. And I don't seem to be alone.

In spite of this, however, it's still simultaneously frustrating and hysterical when conservative friends and colleagues make some comment about people being sorry they voted for Obama or asking how I like his presidency so far, because here's the thing: if I'm disappointed that Obama isn't as liberal or progressive or even (hate to say it) as effective as I'd hoped, was there any chance in hell that I was going to vote for a scandal-ridden old man who was so desperate to get himself elected President before he died that he tacked hard-right and nominated a brainless, vicious, vapid, ignorant, unqualified ditz as a running mate? I mean, I'm unhappy that healthcare reform doesn't go far enough, so my unhappiness with the Obama Administration translates into some kind of support for the guys who wanted no heathcare reform at all how, exactly? I'm unhappy that our wars are ongoing, so I should have voted for the party that was primarily responsible for starting and mismanaging them in the first place? Obama isn't liberal enough so I'm going to regret that the conservative lost?

Really? No. Please.

Kornacki digs through a lot of past Presidential elections to analyze how political parties dealt with dissatisfaction and dissent, but he misses an obvious example, perhaps deliberately because it didn't really follow the same narrative of party-core-versus-establishment that he's using as his model. In 2000, when all we knew about George Bush was that he was a friendly-but-not-too-bright-seeming American royal scion and all we could see in Al Gore was that he was a smug and stiff prick who'd been Vice-President under a guy who'd spent an awful lot of time embarrassing his office, it was real easy for a liberal to look at the two candidates, decide it didn't matter which one of them was elected, and vote for somebody who actually appeared to be a progressive candidate--Ralph Nader.

Now, keep in mind, we're talking 2000, not 2001 or 2004. This is what we knew or thought we knew then, those of us in the camp of the perpetually disaffected left wing. The economy was good, the World Trade Center in two pieces as designed, Iraq a misbehaving but manageable problem and things weren't terrible. The fact that the worst thing you could bitch about the President doing or not doing was his inability to keep the trouser snake in the yard was, frankly and if only we'd known it, pretty damn wonderful in hindsight. We didn't know that the future would be more than Bush could handle any more than we knew that Nader would prove to be a pretentious and vain turd willing to allow himself to be used as a Republican spoiler in 2004. In 2000, the idea that things would continue much as they had and that Bush would be an affable, barely-competent President seemed reasonable; sure, he'd make some lousy Supreme Court appointments given the opportunity and would try to dismantle some vital government programs, but, you know, all's fair in love and war and shit happens and our day would come 'round again and all of that.

Oops. Who knew? No, seriously, who knew? I don't think it was possible for even the people who correctly predicted that Bush would be a shitty President to correctly predict how shitty. Torture? A war in south Asia? Really? No--he's just going to screw up school lunches and stiff old people on their medicine, even he's not dumb enough to get us into two wars and a recession....

Famous last words.

So we learned. The hard way. Are we happy? No. Are some of us chewing on half a loaf and lying that we're okay with just the taste of bread while the rest of us fly into an incessant angry squawking panic about the latest heartbreak? Yep.

But are we voting for Republicans? Like hell. Are we staying home in November 2012 in an act of suicidal protest? I doubt it. Are we going to repeat 2000? No, I could be wrong, but I really don't think so.

I think the Democrats are wrong to take us for granted. And I seethe that we're forced to reward misbehavior and suffer being represented by people who, mostly, don't represent us or even respect our values.

But you bet your ass that I'll be voting for Obama in 2012. And I can't even add a hypothetical "unless" to that, you know--"He'd have to be a space alien posing as a human to conquer the Earth," or something like that: hell, I'll vote for a monstrous space alien before I vote for Romney, much less Huckabee or (shudder) Palin. Okay, wait, I did think of one: if the Republicans used dark necromancy to resurrect Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower... but what am I even saying? These days those guys would have to run as Democrats, so it doesn't even matter.

The bottom line, I guess, is that liberal disaffection with Obama may be bad for Democrats, but it's possibly worse for Republicans. We may be upset, but we ain't complacent. I'm reminded, of course, of something a famous Republican said, like they say in Texas and maybe in Tennessee, too: "Fool me once, shame on, shame on you; fool me... you can't get fooled again."

Or, if you'd like: Naderized once, never twice.



5 comments:

Rachael Monday, July 12, 2010 at 1:20:00 PM EDT  

Oh yes. I find it very annoying when I get asked if I'm unhappy with Obama and then the asker seems to think that means I would have voted for McCain. If Obama had been a drooling zombie who did nothing on the campaign trail but eat brains, I would have still voted for him after McCain picked up Sarah Palin, because I loathe that woman just that much. (I managed to cling to a modicum of respect for McCain until then, somehow.)

I think the more interesting part of this issue is looking at how progressives are spending their money because we're ticked off. I know at this point, my mom is just donating to progressive candidates she likes via Act Blue, since she would rather cut off her own hand than give money to, say, Blanche Lincoln. There's a whole big thing about the gAyTM since a lot of people in the LGBT community are less than thrilled about giving money to candidates who are unwilling to pursue equality, and who can blame them, except now some democrats are freaking out because they didn't realize just how much money that was, and our arguing that money should continue to be donated because losing the majorities would be bad. While I understand that, I fail to see the advantage in supporting democrats who continue to dash our hopes by voting with Republicans on the important stuff, but I tend to be vindictive anyway. It's an interesting issue.

timb111 Monday, July 12, 2010 at 3:22:00 PM EDT  

"Fool me once, shame on, shame on you; fool me... you can't get fooled again." Which reminds me of the Who's 1971 Won't Get Fooled Again. But of course they were and you will be too.

Eric Monday, July 12, 2010 at 3:41:00 PM EDT  

Ah, but who's the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?

Rachael: you have a good point about the funding, and we'll see how that plays out. I have to admit a certain amount about schadenfreude towards conservative Dems who are discovering old wells do run dry over time, though I hope it doesn't result in a reactionary Congress.

Leanright,  Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 10:21:00 PM EDT  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=201pgTaEseQ&feature=popular

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