Re: Party Loyalty


I figured that if he got some votes, the Democrats might move left next election to capture them.

You see that the exact opposite is the case - if you've got a fringe group of left-wingers ditching the party, then the correct tactical move in a general election is to move rightward where maybe you can pick up some votes.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 11:00 AM
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The left never has any leverage in the US. They're either taken for granted by the Democrats, or else abandoned as disloyal. The mainstream of the Democrats are people who are inclined to say "Let's give the War in Iraq a fair hearing" -- even after being proven wrong, they still insist that the people who were right were right for the wrong reasons.

Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 11:02 AM
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I've become pretty embittered, and it's reached a new height this week (I was in Istanbul interviewing Iraqi torture victims, wondering how much of this story is going to remain hidden for decades, and I come home to the Democrats rolling over on wiretapping for no apparent reason). But it doesn't mean I'm especially tempted to give my vote to third parties--it means I give money & effort & am emotionally invested in issue-focused groups instead of the Democratic Party or Democratic candidates.

Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 11:37 AM
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I'm not opposed in principle to voting Republican

I am, especially after the last six years. Republicans decided party came before country, and I doubt I will ever forgive that.

Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 11:37 AM
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re: 4

I am in the somewhat sad position of being unable to vote for either of the main British parties.

In particularly dark moments I do wonder if McManus is right.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 11:41 AM
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On Adam's point, the odd thing to me is the assumption that the left is somehow owed leverage automatically, rather than curiosity about why the left hasn't had leverage. You can have theories about that: stab-in-the-back, false consciousness, the left fucked up in the past, America is a weird place that for complicated historical reasons can't have a left, and so on, but you kind of have to have that theory be out in front of any complaint about the Democrats' failure to move left. I mean, if moving left = automatic and certain electoral triumph, I'm pretty sure it would have happened by now.

But that's a side issue. If we're talking about the Democratic cave-in on this particular bill, yes, it's depressing. Because the people who are going to think "Democrats are weak sissies on national security" probably couldn't be convinced otherwise even if Nancy Pelosi was filmed personally ordering carpet bombings on Waziristan while giving a random Muslim electric shocks to his genitals. I don't really think there are many potential swing voters out there for whom "failure to support an intelligence bill that Robert Mugabe could be proud of" is likely to sway them into voting Republican again.

Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 11:41 AM
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6: I mean, if moving left = automatic and certain electoral triumph, I'm pretty sure it would have happened by now.

My perception is that this isn't necessarily true. I don't know what the Democrats would have to do to lose my vote, but they could get a whole lot more money out of me by moving left, and I don't think I'm alone in that. And as you say, a lot of their sidling to the right seems electorally pointless. While I don't have a well supported theory of exactly what's going on, I have the impression that this sort of godawful spinelessness from the Democrats is explained by something other than straightforward votegrubbing.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 11:47 AM
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I think that there's a very well known tendency for people to extrapolate from their own social circle to the rest of the country, which leads everyone to figure that if politicians only catered more to what they wanted, surely victory would be at hand.

Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 11:59 AM
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Re 6 & 7:

I tend to think it is pretty straightforward votegrubbing that's behind the spinelessness, but for someone else's votes. Namely, Republican voters. Anymore, I feel like the Democrats know, like LB says, that they would have to do even worse to actually lose my vote, discontented as it may be. So there's a sense that they can pick up some moderate Republicans by going all blue doggy. Further, my villifying them probably helps their chances with a decent portion of the voting populace. Hilary ran away from being a 'liberal' as fast as she could in that youtube debate.

Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:04 PM
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8: Yeah, but there are all of those polls showing that crazy off-the-wall leftwing positions like universal health care are wildly popular, and politicians still are all shy about them. I don't want to rely too much on polls, but it's not just extrapolation from my social group.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:10 PM
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I don't know what the Democrats would have to do to lose my vote, but they could get a whole lot more money out of me by moving left, and I don't think I'm alone in that.

You're not. Of course, that's kind of a chicken-and-egg situation; I don't know of a decent way to communicate that to the powers-that-be in the party.

Hmm. Maybe Unfogged needs a PAC.

Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:15 PM
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10: A two-part answer:

(a) really? I'm not familiar with such polls (except for a few very poorly constructed ones). I was under the impression that Americans were still scared to death of "socialized medicine." (While at the same time being frustrated with the current system.)

(b) To the extent this actually is "wildly popular" and I'm just misinformed, I'm sure the shyness has nothing to do with a vague fear of leftist cooties and everything to do with fundraising.

Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:16 PM
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There are two different things here: what is motivating the dems' acquiescence on this issue; and is that motivation actually well-served by this strategy.

I don't think there's much doubt about the first question. The Democrats in office don't think that gutting what remains if FISA is good policy. They are doing this because they think it's necessary for '08.

As to the second question, there should be lots of doubt. Appeals to the conventional wisdom do not convince me.

Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:19 PM
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To what extent do people think this is motivated by the (possibly terminally) debased state of political reporting in this country? Republicans have figured out that they can do or say any crazy thing they want and nobody will say, in plain terms, "Republicans are crazy people." Meanwhile Dems seem skerrt of their own shadows that people will endlessly repeat how they've doomed themselves by listening to DailyKos. Did any of the TV news outlets pick up on the fact that someone (*koff* Cheney *koff*) scuttled a perfectly reasonable compromise that the Dem leadership and the DNI worked out?

Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:25 PM
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I'm a lousy googler, but here's an ABC story from showing 62% of those polled preferring UHC to our current system, and only 32% preferring the current system. I'll go poke around Ezra's place -- he should have some later polls.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:34 PM
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The elephant in the room here is money. The Republicans are supported by it and have access to it. Furthermore, there's a powerful set of vested interests that they cater to.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:35 PM
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What's the vested interest in favor of warrantless wiretapping? The intel agencies, sure, but I don't see why corporate America would be in favor of it.

Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:39 PM
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Shiny new toys for AT&T, to hoover up all of that data?

Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:40 PM
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re: 17

It's not that the proximal explanation for the surveillance laws is that those laws directly benefit corporate America. Rather, the success of the Republican party more generally is (partly) explained thusly.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 12:57 PM
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Consumer research?

Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 1:00 PM
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Some of the reporting on this bill is suggesting that the telecoms are actually pushing hard against this, and maybe have been the main force that pushed some Republican officials and politicians to block Cheney and Gonzales earlier on. The telecoms may be more opposed to this stuff than the Dems are.

Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 1:09 PM
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Also, isn't a key element to what it means to be leftist taking the side of the poor and powerless against the rich and powerful? That would make in almost a tautology that the Republicans have more access to money than the Democrats...

Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 1:26 PM
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Also, isn't a key element to what it means to be leftist taking the side of the poor and powerless against the rich and powerful?

I think believing that you're for the poor and powerless and against the rich and powerful is an important part of being a leftist.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 1:31 PM
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I feel I need to reproduce the whole of this Henley post:
Anyway, dry your eyes, face the facts and then we can think about what it means. We had a couple cheers in comments downblog for the fact that Dem reps and sens broke about 3-1 to 4-1 against the EGRA, which is a much better ratio than the Republican Party where no signiificant support exists for reining in the Surveillance State, at least under the present occupant.

That's very nice, but people shouldn't oversell it. The record shows that, institutionally, the Democratic Party is a vehicle for the maintenance and expansion of government transfer-payment programs. In recent decades it has included a sizable constituency with sentiments in favor of something sort of like peace and something we could call civil liberties, but institutionally, the Democratic Party is not a vehicle for restoring peace or preserving civil liberties. Try to change Social Security or trim Medicare and the official Democratic Party forms a phalanx of spartan stoutness. Monkey with habeas corpus or the freedom from search and seizure and it's every man and woman for themselves. I'm pleased to see so many Blue votes against EGRA and in favor of something sort of like a drawdown of our misbegotten war in Iraq, but these things aren't matters for party discipline. And we know that Democratic Party discipline is possible, because we've seen it on issues the institutional DP cares about, most of which involve moving money from here to there.

You may believe that moving money from here to there is tremendously important. You may believe in peace and freedom too. But that doesn't make the DP a peace and freedom party. It's not. I'm happy to entertain ideas on how to make it such a thing; maybe it's possible. But this is still the Party whose leadership consigned the country to war in Fall 2002 because what they really wanted to talk about was - was it Enron? Medicare? Who even remembers? - and if signing off on the invasion of another country would get the pesky distraction of whether the United States ought to be going around invading other countries "off the table" for the election, well, that was a small price to pay. Before that it was the party that built the national-security state in the first place, from the 1940s forward.

What I'm actually trying to say here is, don't despair. The Democratic Party isn't any worse this week than it was last week. It's what it was then, and the week before that. And never in all that time has it been yours. It's just that now you know. So, what do you plan to do about it?

Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 1:52 PM
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Ya know, I am figuratively that bearded weirdo standing on a soapbox in the park with a placard:"The End is Nigh."

I forgive the Dems for this vote. I think they have reasons.

Things are so bad, or about to become so bad, or possibly could be so bad, that merely remaining viable and around, keeping the Fascists from total ascendancy, is adequate justification for almost anything.

Bush will bomb Iran if the Dems don't vote his way, and will bomb Iran if they tell anybody. Or the Dems think he is about to bomb Iran (word is, not this year).

But both my argument and your complaints don't work that well. It was only a few Democrats in either chamber that voted badly, and the good guys should not be tarred with this broad brush. But those Democrats that voted badly does support my theory any marginal Democratic gains will move the Party to the Right, not left.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 1:54 PM
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6: Okay, Tim, we all get it -- you're sick of people saying the Democrats should move left. Putting aside the sense of entitlement you read into it, do you think my statement is descriptively wrong?

Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 2:41 PM
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Does anyone have a link to the Senate vote on the FISA thing. I'm planning to send a note to my rep thanking him for voting "no." I was thinking of sending a letter to my Senators explaining how hard it is for me to get behind the Democratic party when they cave in on questions that are so fundamental to our basic liberty.

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 5:36 PM
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Here, BG.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 6:01 PM
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I completely agree with LizardBreath's post. I wonder what the Democrats in Congress are thinking. Is it fear that if *anything* happens when they aren't giving Bush what he demands, it's going to be turned on them?

Is there any point where they'll say no to being rolled on this issue? I'm may be even closer to a yellow dog Democrat than LB, but then I'm in Mississippi. When do we say no?

And, yep, I'm with flipping off the senior senator from NY over the hedge fund tax issue.

Posted by: TomF | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 9:28 PM
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I'm new here. The cognitive dissonance is pretty overwhelming, but completely understandable.

This latest FISA sell-out is the last straw for me. I'm told that "only" 41 Dems rolled over. Left tactfully unexplained is why Pelosi and Harry "Return of Tom Daschle" Reid couldn't do some schedule jiggering or similar jiu-jitsu to at least postpone this travesty. Pathetic. None of the Dem front-runners dares even mention our slide into empire, garrison state, banana republic. They sure as hell won't take on Israel, which is now to us what Serbia was to Austria-Hungary. When it comes to military expenditures, Clinton, Obama and Edwards share the same insane consensus -- more!

Kucinich, Gravel and Ron Paul are the only candidates who speakly lucidly about these things. The first two don't have a chance. Ron Paul, on the other hand, is running in a field inhabited by pygmies and morons. It's a long shot, but it's not impossible that he could pull off a kind of miracle, and get the GOP nomination.

Yeah, the guy's economic priorities are anathema. Yeah, he's not going to genuflect to the cosmic sanctity of Roe v. Wade. Yeah, he's *gasp* a Republican. But ya know what? We keep heading in the current direction, those kinds of considerations are going to become real quaint, real fast.

Nader was wrong in the particular case of Bush v. Gore, but he was right in general: The Democratic Party is NOT your friend, your savior, your vanguard. It's a gaggle of hustlers and perpetual student government dweebs. If they can't say "no" to Bush from a position of considerable political advantage -- WHICH THEY HAVE -- what kind of fucking moron believes that they're really going to fight for universal health care and a sane foreign policy?!?!

Please -- consider Ron Paul.

Posted by: sglover | Link to this comment | 08- 6-07 11:55 PM
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Sorry Sglover. I'm still more afraid of corporations having unlimited power than I am of the government having unlimited power, although both would be terrible.

Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:14 AM
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I'll make a deal -- come back when he wins the Republican Primary, and we can talk about it then. Untill then, you need to be prosleytizing to people who can vote for him.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:11 AM
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the guy's economic priorities are anathema

The word I'd use is "insane", but whatever works for you.

he's not going to genuflect to the cosmic sanctity of Roe v. Wade

0% rating from NARAL and 76% rating from the Christian Coalition. Umm, sorry. Won't vote for that in a million years.

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:59 AM
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Look at you, Apo, all pussy whipped and genuflecting.

Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 6:03 AM
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Thank you, BitchPhD. May I have another?

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 6:34 AM
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Digby's right.

I am not by philosophy or temperament a "bring down the state" kind of person and that tends to make me look for reason in unreasonable actions and try to affect change through the political channels that currently exist. Persuasion, education, discussion, blah, blah, blah. And I'm not a naif. I know craven politicians are craven and suspect them of selling out to any number of interests for any number of reasons. So, I'll tend to try to find ways to change their political calculations under the assumption that they have no real substance to begin with.

In this case,however, I don't think any of that is true. When it comes to the encroaching police state, the politicians of both parties have shown their true colors and their shirts are a disturbing shade of coffee.

The idea that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi supposedly "allowed" themselves to be punk'd again on a constitutional atrocity with scare stories and slick legislative strategy is indefensible and at some point you have to assume that it isn't just political malpractice or even spinelessness. When you see this legislation, on the heels of the passage of the Military Commissions atrocity last fall, you cannot escape the conclusion that the Democrats agree with the administration that the government must have unfettered authoritarian power to "keep the country safe."

Sure, a good many of them voted against it. But the Democrats control the agenda now and no legislation passes without the leadership's approval in this congress. They approved it. The pander wasn't to the red staters. It was those who voted against it who were pandering --- to us. If the Dems had wanted to stop Reid and Pelosi from putting this atrocity up for a vote they could have. They didn't.

And not only did they approve it, they refused to pass the bill that everyone agrees was sufficient to update the FISA rules alone and granted the administration its latest power grab instead. What could have been a real debate about who, in fact, is keeping the country safe and free, they turned into a political failure that makes them appear even weaker than before. And in the process of doing this, they were willing to give Alberto Gonzales the power to eavesdrop on his political opponents -- themselves. (Considering what we know about what he and others have done at the DOJ, it's absurd to assume he won't, isn't it?)

Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:12 PM
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Or, I'm not convinced she's right, but I'm convinced the Dems at best don't care that much about these issues. Talk of lacking a spine is misguided.

Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:16 PM
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