Maple Glen, Penn.
The Democrats were blown out of the water on Nov. 2.
But it’s not because of the Tea Party, or because of a resurgent Republican majority.
The Democrats deserved to lose because they have long since abandoned whatever principles they had, and more important, they’ve pissed on their most important supporters–the left, real liberals, African Americans, women, unionized workers, and workers in general. So I say hooray, all those groups have struck back!
Barack Obama set this disaster for the party and his presidency in motion before he was even sworn in as president, by choosing Wall Street hacks as his economic advisers in the midst of the worst economic crisis in 75 years, and by choosing as his key political adviser Rahm Emanuel, who famously called progressive critics “fucking retarded,” and who, when warned that the GM bailout plan would hurt the United Autoworkers members who worked there, also famously said “Fuck the UAW!”
Emanuel never, at least in public, ever said “Screw the Schwarzes!,” but he and Obama might as well have, for all the help they’ve offered to a population that is suffering with twice the unemployment rate of whites, and that is being imprisoned at a rate that is virtually re-enslaving the nation’s young male African-American population.
Those progressives and liberals and minorities and workers that Emanuel and Obama, and most of the Democrats in Congress have dissed and pissed on have now returned the favor.
When you have a state like mine, Pennsylvania, where Democrats have a one million advantage in voter registration, to lose both the governor’s race and the Senate race to Republicans, takes some serious screwing up. And that’s what happened. Both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature went from Democratic to Republican, the outgoing and popular Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, whose two terms were over, was replaced by the Republican attorney general, Tom Corbett, and the Senate seat held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, who was defeated in a primary by Rep. Joe Sestak, went narrowly to a right-wing Republican, former Rep. Pat Toomey.
Looking at the Democratic Party debacle in Pennsylvania gives a worm’s eye view of what the national party did to itself. Pennsylvania is often said to be a deep south state with two or three liberal northern enclaves–Philadelphia in the southeast, the Pittsburg region in the far west, and the old industrial area of Scranton-Wilkes Barre in the northeast. Democrats typically win in statewide races by piling up huge majorities in those three regions–especially Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.
Those regions voted overwhelmingly for Onorato and Sestak, as usual, but not in the numbers necessary to overcome the enthusiastic turnout of conservative voters in the middle of the state. Looking at the vote in Philadelphia, which is roughly 50 per cent African American in demographics, even though the total voter turnout of 41 per cent was on the high side for an off-year election, the party split — 82 per cent Democrat and 18 per cent Republican–was not as lopsided as it was in 2008, when it was 90 per cent Democratic. That difference alone would have given Sestak, who lost his race by just 2 per cent, a victory. Worse yet, the black voter turnout was lower than expected. Again, had blacks turned out in better than historical numbers, as whites did in Philadelphia, Sestak, and probably Onorato, would have both won their state-wide races. The same argument can be made for several congressional races in the Philadelphia suburbs, where turnout was low, and Democrats, including several incumbents, lost.
African-Americans didn’t vote because they have been largely ignored by President Obama and Congressional Democrats over the past two years of economic disaster. Homes have continued to be foreclosed at a rapacious pace, no jobs programs have been created for people at the bottom (what good do funds for highway and bridge construction do for minorities or women or minority women, when most construction workers are continue to be white males?), the health care “reform” bill, if anything, has weakened Medicaid programs, which is how most poor people get what health care they can get, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are sucking up funds that could have been used to reduce class sizes in urban schools (In Philadelphia schools, kids sit on the floor in overcrowded classrooms with insufficient desks and still use battered textbooks that date from the 1970s, or if they’re lucky, the ‘80s or ‘90s).
Union households couldn’t be roused to go out and do the door-to-door campaigning legwork or the evening phone-bank calling after having done so two years ago on the promise of passage of an Employee Free Choice Act to make union organizing fair, only to have the Obama administration and the Democratic Congressional leadership walk away from the issue, saying they’d save it for “later.”
“Later” never came, of course.
Every progressive, every liberal, every union member, every African-American dissed by Obama and his potty-mouth advisers, or ignored by his Wall-Street enamored economic team, or his medical industry obsessed health bill advisers, was not just a vote lost. It was a persuasive vote-getter lost.
That’s why the Democratic Party was crushed on Tuesday.
It was a fully deserved trouncing.
I went to my polling station in the church one block from my house to cast a vote, and found my self in conversation with an ardent local Democrat who was handing out local Democratic sample ballots, and an equally ardent Tea Party guy advocating for a right-wing candidate running for the local congressional seat. I found myself agreeing much more with the Tea Partier.
The Tea Partier said that the government had “lost touch” with ordinary people. I couldn’t agree more. He said that the health bill was a costly and overly bureaucratic disaster. Again, I couldn’t agree more. The Democratic activist countered that Obama and the Democrats in Congress weren’t getting credit for any of the good things they had done in the past two years. I just don’t see it. Judges? Obama named two very mediocre, middle-of-the-road jurists who may even side against liberal positions, like the death penalty, or presidential executive power. The wars? We still have 50,000 troops and an enormous army of mercenaries in Iraq, and a deepening quagmire in Afghanistan that is looking more like Vietnam every day. That’s change? And education? Show me the money. All we’re hearing is charter schools, and the studies show them to be costly failures that simply suck the life out of the rest of the schools in a district. Jobs? Right. Regulating the banks? There’s a laugh! They are bigger, more concentrated, and more powerful than ever, and engaged in the same crooked behavior that caused the economic crisis.
The good news is that the voters have told Obama, the Democrats, and their oh-so-smart political advisers, “Fuck you!”
One would hope that we won’t be hearing any more dissing of progressives from the White House or Congressional Democrats after this election, but then again, the Democratic Party long ago lost any pretense of being the party of the common person, so who knows?
Never mind that of the 80 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, only 3 lost their seats, while the conservative/neoliberal Blue Dog Caucus, with 54 members, lost 26, or almost half of its ranks. Democratic leaders, including the president, may nonetheless come away from this election deciding once again that the answer is to become more like the Republicans. (Already the Democratic Leadership Council, that loathsome cesspool of conservative and Neoliberal Democrats like Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, is claiming that the reason Democrats got trounced is that they “lost the middle”!)
And we have all seen how well that works.
DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run online alternative newspaper. His work, and that of John Grant, Linn Washington and Charles Young, can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net