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The left controls the margin, and the margin controls Obama's election

That's my interpretation of this interesting and important post from Glenn Greenwald, which I'll excerpt here:

[CNN polling found that] roughly one in four Americans who disapprove of the president say they feel that way because he's not been liberal enough."

[WaPo polling found that the number of liberal Democrats who strongly support Obama’s record on jobs plunged 22 points from 53 percent last year to 31 percent. The number of African Americans who believe the president's actions have helped the economy has dropped from 77 percent in October to just over half of those surveyed. ....

[Gallup polling found that] 30% of liberals refuse to express approval for the Democratic President). ...

[Other pollsfound that] Nearly half of [Obama's] own base -- 45 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents -- want someone to challenge him for the Democratic nomination . . . Among pro-Democratic voters who want him challenged: pluralities of women, voters younger than 45, and those without a college degree." ....

[Yglesias touts a Netroots Nation poll which found that] only 27% [of these hard-code R activists] "strongly approve" of their own Party's president. ....

U.S. presidential elections are very closely decided affairs, and alienating the Left even to some degree can be lethal for a national Democratic campaign; shouldn't the 2000 election, along with 2010, have cemented that lesson forever? ....

Even small defections, along with pervasive cynicism, disappointment, and apathy, can sink Obama's campaign. ...

To prepare for 2012, Obama's moving right, toward the "centrist" independent voter, and not left; partly (no doubt) because Obama's beliefs, assuming he has any, are conservative; partly because, if his proxies are to be believed (the left is "on drugs", and "fucking retarded"), Obama genuinely hates the left; and certainly because Obama's owners in the rentier class don't feel that left policies serve their interests, and so would not allow him to move left even if he wished to. No doubt Obama positioning himself as "the only adult in the room" during the debt crisis is all about 2012, besides being about looting Social Security and Medicare.

However, although Obama's operatives are trained professionals, there's no particular reason to think that they've made the right call on 2012 (assuming, again, that they were even in a position to move left). For one thing, why wouldn't voters go for a real conservative? Further, despite all the efforts to use the debt crisis to paint all Rs as crazy -- remind me again why cutting Social Security is crazy if an R does it, but not crazy if a D does it? -- it looks to me like the "a plague on both your houses" is the popular reaction. (In marketing, it's well known that if MacDonalds ran a marketing campaign based on a claim, say, that there was ratshit in Big Boy's burgers, consumers would just stop buying burgers altogether. So I'm not sure how smart these guys really are.) Finally, I'm not sure Obama's operatives grasp the depth of the betrayal that some feel when they compare Obama's hope and change promises in 2008 to the outcomes; this is especially true, at least in my unscientific experience, among the young. Fool me once....

So I go back to the Ian Welsh's idea that Obama must go down, that the left must take him down, and be seen to take him down. (And Obama himself has said that D and R policies on the big issues* aren't far enough apart to matter, so why not take him down?) If the general is close, the marginalized -- those who control the margin -- hold Obama's fate in their hands. That would be us. (In other words, the party elite, the policy elite, and the media elite, including the access bloggers, give us no oxygen not because we are weak, but because we are stronger than we know.)

So -- confirmation bias alert! -- we need to keep doing what we are doing. Keep chipping away at the legacy parties, work on creative "pervasive cynicism realism, disappointment indignation, and apathy engagement with non-legacy institutions," and steer a course through the chaos based on principle.

Suppose 2012 shapes up like: 49% D, 49% R. Who controls the outcome? Why, the 2%, that's who. It's our job to be that 2%, and leverage it. (And as DCBlogger keeps saying, the real goal is 2016. When the collapse of the legacy parties comes, it will come quickly. I'd like to imagine that one of the 2016 Presidential candidates helped organize the Madison, WI Capitol occupation....)

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Joe's picture
Submitted by Joe on

Great post, Lambert. I've been thinking a lot lately that a 3rd party strategy, while way better than supporting the legacy parties, might not be as optimal as simply supporting independent candidacies. Maybe the problem isn't just "not enough parties". Maybe it's also the existence of parties to begin with. We ought to go straight after Obama in the general election by supporting and funding an independent candidate. That way we skip past the party apparatus and rules, and we make a statement that people should not be defined by parties, but by their beliefs.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

it's ugly manifestations. On a Think Progress blog, after mentioning "third way" and referencing "naked Capitalism' and BAR, I was accused of being an :"enabler", "fringe", "LWNJ", rigid, and on and on.....worse than a Tea Party site, IMHO. And, BTW, not one person could respond on the substance of my remarks..scared I tell ya.

Time for Real Change

Submitted by lambert on

Well, "on drugs" and "fucking retards" gave 'em a good direction to go in.

Try asking them if they want you in the party or not, and if they want you, what are they willing to give? They'll equivocate. Then quote the 12 word platform and ask them how much they agree with it.... The point of Greenwald's post is that the margins have the power. That will be a hard idea for them to get used to.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Kathryn's picture
Submitted by Kathryn on

is still "sanctimonious purists."

[...as in kiss my sanctimonious purist a**. <--- my new tshirt. I'm thinking the slogan should wrap around t0 the back of the shirt with a nice arrow.]

Cleaver's picture
Submitted by Cleaver on

the Bradley effect in 2012.

Some of the same fauxgressive white raaaay-cists! who saddled us with Obama in 2008, and who projected their own racism on Democrats who saw Obama for who and what he is, will not want to perpetuate Obama's rightist policies but will be unwilling to come right out and tell a pollster they won't vote for him, because that would, you know, make them raaaay-cists!

I know you! You're one of the many bits of offal produced by the welfare state!