Lessons from the 2010 Democratic Defeat

In 2008 the democrats scored a huge victory. The last time the republicans had such a sweep of the legislative and executive branch was prior to World War I. Not World War II - World War I! And yet it all changed in 2010 after two years of democrats pretending they were helpless before the republican minority. What happened and what can we learn?

In the two years of unchallenged power the democrats

  • refused to enact a republican concession of having a minimum percentage renewable energy
  • delayed or cancelled all real environmental progress
  • took single payer off the table and substituted it with subsidies to corporations
  • expanded all civil rights violations
  • indefinitely extended the ten year tax cuts for the rich and corporations which were set to automatically expire
  • continued Bush policies of enriching the 1% at the expense of everyone else

In addition to their abysmal performance, the 2010 failure can be attributed to two aspects. One is emotional and the other is tactical.

Emotionally, those idealists who believed in principles were much more maligned and insulted than any republican. Among the names Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Press Secretary Gibbs  have called people who called for Obama to keep his promises are  “whiney f***ing retards”   and “sanctimonious purists who won’t be satisfied until the pentagon is destroyed.”  No such language is ever been used against republicans, blue dog democrats, or bankers. This is best captured in Have Not Love 

Tactically, Sondra Miller gives an excellent description. "In Matt Bai’s book on Democratic politics, he gives a rare inside look at Democratic billionaires. Before the 2010 Congressional elections, George Soros and friends thought the best way to help the Democratic Party was through state-of-the art technology. They bought new computers for the Democratic Party, and they established numerous liberal websites with paid bloggers to sit there all day long and blog with people, and they established a liberal think-tank with ivy-league employees to make sure the paid bloggers were kept up to date with the latest accurate information. On the evening of the election, they gathered in a New York penthouse with Hillary Clinton and other Democratic notables to have cocktails and watch the election results. The Democrats suffered their worse defeat in decades.

Soros had over-estimated the power of the Internet and had taken a national approach to a regional issue. Congressional elections are regional affairs in small Congressional Districts but the paid bloggers were discussing national and international affairs. It was the local politician who had the pulse on what their District needed and wanted who won the election. And in many cases it had nothing to do with national or international issues.
This is probably why Progressives have failed to move into Congress; they spend more time discussing national and international issues than taking the pulse of people in their own District."
Lessons Learned
  • It is time to abandon both major parties and start the hard work of starting over. For a good description of the process the two main parties use see "Grayson, Kucinich, Warren, and the Road to Hell"  at  http://www.newprogs.org/grayson_kucinich_warren_and_the_road_to_hell   The names may change, but the process remains the same.
  • The internet  can be a powerful tool, but it is not everything. Work must still be done. Sondra's excellent description is one example of internet failure. Signing petitions, checking like on Facebook, insisting on perfection before proceeding, and writing letters to politicians who clearly do not support your interests  is another example of wasted time. See also Lessons from Occupy
  • It really is not that hard to run a campaign to get the word out. In Politics Today Sondra Miller explains why our best shot is a run for the US House of Representatives.  See also  So You Want to Run for Office and  Make Your Case
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