Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why Liberals Fail

After the primary a few weeks ago I was chatting with a liberal friend about the post-election washout of candidates.  I imagined out loud that since her candidate had not advanced, she would be supporting the Democratic candidate that had moved on to the general election.

"No," was the firm reply.  "He voted to fund the war [in Iraq & Afghanistan].  I can't support that.  I have to vote my conscience.  I am for peace, I will write in the name of my [failed] candidate, and vote for him."

"So," I said, "you will cast a ballot that indirectly favors the candidate whose party started the war under false pretenses.  The party that offered no apology or even reasonable excuse for same, whose executive leadership created a torture camp in Cuba and under whose lack of supervision crashed the most vital economy in the world?"

"I have to vote my conscience."  End of discussion.

This is why liberals fail.  It is a political truism that liberals fall in love; conservatives fall in line.  My friend has fallen in love with the candidate and been blinded to the forest by a single tree.  This phenomenon has had many names over the political years:  Peace & Freedom, Green, Progressives, the Mary Janes and others of a similar splinter mentality.  They, and others like them, succumb to the siren song of the 'protest vote', somehow imagining that those votes will be seen with all seriousness in Washington or at the state and local level at least.  They are correct in one assumption:  They will be seen all right, and promptly dismissed as a constituency that can, and will, be ignored.

As a group, liberals have an astonishingly short collective memory.  Only one election cycle ago the most diverse group of voters in my living history accomplished what many believed impossible; they elected an avowed liberal black man to the Presidency of the United States of America.  With him they swept into power a huge Congressional majority of Dems and between them--in spite of fierce and almost unanimous opposition from Republicans--managed to enact some of the most important fiscal and social legislation in half a century.

But, alas, Barack Obama proved to be human.  He didn't march into office and sweep away 220 years of political bickering with a single blow.  Don't Ask-Don't Tell still lingers, as do dozens of left and far left honey-dos.  The agenda is incomplete and you are an impatient and fickle crowd.  You liberals have lost your understanding of the power of incremental-ism.  Like children, you want it all now, or you will sulk in your room.

Republicans are counting on this.  The RNC is collecting and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on candidates, that in any other cycle, wouldn't merit a one line obit buried deep in the political pages.  They hold their noses, open their checkbooks and fall in line.  Most of the mainstream Republicans seeking election, or re-election, are espousing views they cynically don't believe themselves, in order to appeal to a general anxiety amongst the electorate.

And you are letting it happen.  You are so busy feeling sorry for yourself that the entire country isn't on board with your goals, that you have fallen into a malaise, that in just a few weeks, threatens to undo what you worked so hard to achieve.  If you are disillusioned and frustrated now, imagine how eviscerated you will feel when a cadre of elected representatives come into power that have the avowed goals of re-instituting school prayer, rolling back abortion rights, eliminating Social Security and Medicare, trying to deport millions of undocumented aliens and expanding tax cuts and deregulation to the wealthiest companies and individuals in the country. Don't be misled, these are the central tenants of their governing philosophy.

As a moderate Republican, sidelined by my own party, I find myself watching this slow-motion train wreck in the liberal wing with horror.  Oddly, the best hope I, and millions of center-righters like me, have of regaining the reigns of a GOP careening madly out of control to the reactionary right, is a united liberal front.  If you throw up your hands and walk away from the process it may be two generations before equilibrium can be restored, and reclaiming sanity in governance likely won't return in my lifetime.

Think about this; after the dust has settled from the upcoming election, states will begin the process of reapportionment and redistricting.  It is a little-understood, but critically important, constitutional process that affects the makeup of the House of Representatives and subsequently influences elections not just for ten years, till the next census, but for a generation or more, as Members become the ruling class, and re-election becomes a foregone conclusion for 90% of those running.

I'm trying to regain control of my party one blog at a time, but liberals, I need your help.  Don't screw this up, get out the vote.

Moderate Republicans and Independents are counting on you.

Ironic, no?

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