Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Okay, let's get this over with.
Democratic candidates who lost on election day. As I mentioned in an earlier piece, everyone of these candidates employed a failed strategy. And that strategy was to run as far as they could away from President Obama. Fearful of his sinking pole numbers, they not only distanced themselves from him, they practically disowned him.
So why was this a tactical blunder? Because it ostensibly told the base that they didn't have their back; and that base repaid their repudiation by staying home. Whether it was Alison Lundergan Grimes refusing to say whether she voted for Obama or Mark Udall bashing Obama in public, it was as though they had never even heard of the man. Obama's not on the ballot, they kept insisting.
There was only one problem with that stance. It wasn't true. Obama WAS on the ballot. 2014, like it or not, was a referendum on Obama's policies and it was foolish for Democrats to think otherwise. What they should've done was to defend the good things that had been accomplished over the last six years. Maybe Obamacare wasn't perfect but it ended pre-existing conditions and allowed parents to keep their kids on their healthcare plans an additional two years. While the economy isn't growing as fast as some would like, the country is better off now than it was six years ago. Remember when your 401k was a 201k? Well not anymore.
But rather than defend their voting records, these candidates hemmed and hawed and tried to deflect them. And that played straight into the waiting arms of their opponents who really had nothing to run on except voter frustration with the president. When you look across the map, the Democratic candidates who won were able to differentiate themselves from their opponents and make the case for why they should be reelected. The ones who didn't, lost.
The lesson here couldn't be plainer. Denying who you are is a losing strategy in politics. It discourages voters who might vote for you without attracting a single voter who otherwise wouldn't.
The Democratic base who stayed home. And now we come to the crux of matter; the real reason for this year's nightmarish results. On several occasions I have ripped progressives in this blog. In my mind, they are almost as bad as Tea Partiers. When they don't get their way, they stay home and pout. Or, even worse, they don't think voting in a midterm election is a big deal. Presidential elections, no problem. But ask them to turn out for a midterm and you might as well ask a cat not to chase a mouse. You want me to vote? And miss NCIS or New Girl?
So you didn't get the candidates you wanted; so they were lame. So what! This is the same drivel I heard over Al Gore. So what happened? You voted for Ralph Nader or just stayed home and we got eight years of George W. Bush, that's what fucking happened! Really, some of you are worse than four-year old's on Christmas Day who didn't get all the toys they wanted.
Elections have consequences. And not voting has even greater consequences. So Bruce Braley, Mark Udall, Kay Hagen and Charlie Crist didn't do much for you. To be honest, they didn't do much for me either. But answer me this: what do Joni Ernst, Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis and Rick Scott do for you? Because your decision to sit this election out was the principle reason those Republicans beat those Democrats. It wasn't an overly enthusiastic Republican base who voted that put them over the top, it was a lackadaisical Democratic base who didn't.
I checked and I checked Democratic strongholds in various states and what I found was staggering. With the exception of the Denver suburbs, every area that went heavily for Obama in 2012, had similar margins for the Democrat in each race. The difference wasn't the percentage of the vote, but the number of votes cast. In Broward county alone, there was a drop off of about 200,000 votes from the 2012 election. 200,000! That's more than some Republican counties had in total.
We don't always get the candidate we want. Sometimes the candidate we end up with is flawed. And sometimes the candidate we want can't win a general election. Progressives need to understand this and come to terms with it, especially with a presidential election in two years. Already there is static in the air that if the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton, some of you might not vote for her in the general. Such thinking is suicidal and can have tragic consequences.
How tragic? Consider this: because of your indifference, for the next two years the country will have to contend with the likes of James Inhofe - who not only thinks global warming is a hoax but believes nothing bad could happen to the Earth because God wouldn't permit it - running the Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Think things couldn't get any worse? Try imagining a President Ted Cruz running the country.
Wake up, assholes!