The Base’s Hissy Fit

crying babyAmericans are undergoing another case of the mass amnesia for which they’re justifiably famous. I suppose “amnesia” is too kind a term. So distracted are they by their technological toys and reality TV shows, they can’t be bothered to pay attention to the things that matter. That aloof and unknowable segment of the American electorate that describe themselves as “moderate” are telling pollster after amused pollster that they are unhappy with the way the Democrats have responded to the economic catastrophe that was visited upon this country two years ago. Their solution? Putting the people who are responsible for that catastrophe back in power. I’m not making this up.

Then there is the core of the Democratic vote, the so-called “base”. Like the half-witted six-year-old who didn’t receive the toy he wanted for Christmas, they’re in the process of having a blue-faced tantrum. Because they didn’t get all of that nice hope and change stuff that Barack Obama promised them two years ago, they’re just going to stay home and sulk on Election Day.

Now, let’s all just take a deep breath, shall we?

I am in a unique position. I now make my name by writing about the train-wreck that American politics has become in the last thirty years. As a consequence, the lower my country sinks into the depths of societal dysfunction, the higher my stock rises. If you are a frustrated Democratic voter whose plan is to neglect your civic responsibilities on Tuesday, November 2, I have but one message for you: Don’t do it for me.

I get the feeling (call it a silly hunch on my part) that the American people don’t fully appreciate the implications behind the prospect of the GOP taking back the House and the Senate in January. I know what you’re thinking and I agree. The Democrats are beyond worthless. Let’s face some serious facts here: Any party with a pathetic and befuddled old Andy Gump like Harry Reid as their leader is going to have – “issues” shall we say? But the thing that has to be remembered about our elected Democratic representatives in Washington is the fact that – for the most part – their hearts are in the right place. The same cannot be said for the Republicans, They long ago ceased being a political party. They are now an organized criminal enterprise. If that sounds to you like the extreme ramblings of an embittered Lefty, that’s fine. But I am convinced that within a decade, 20/20 historical hindsight will prove me correct. Call me in ten years and we’ll compare notes.

teddy rooseveltHow many times do I have to say this? They are no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln. They haven’t been for nearly a century – 1912 to be exact. That was the year that Theodore Roosevelt arrived at the Republican Convention in Chicago expecting to be nominated as the candidate to face Woodrow Wilson in the general election in the fall. It wasn’t a pipe dream on TR’s part. After all, he had easily defeated the incumbent president William Howard Taft in the primaries. He had every reason to believe that he would be the GOP’s standard bearer that year. Unfortunately, the people who controlled that party had other ideas. They knew damned well that Teddy’s progressive policies were a direct threat to the stranglehold that the plutocracy had on the American economy. The nomination went to Taft. That was the end. The progressive wing of the grand old party died right then and there. Twenty years later when Roosevelt’s distant cousin Franklin picked up the tarnished progressive banner, he would do so as a Democrat.

I’ve always wondered what old Ted would think of his party were he to rise from the dead. It doesn’t take much insight to conclude that he would be furious that the “malefactors of great wealth” are now calling the shots. I am not implying that he would register today as a Democrat. Knowing as much about TR as I do (and I know a lot) my guess is that he would form a third party, like he did in 1912 when he formed the Progressive or – as it was popularly known – the “Bull Moose” party. It’s a fairly safe call that he would be disgusted with the entire American political system.

The question needs to be asked of the voters: Why are you people hellbent on putting these assholes back in power? What the hell is wrong with you? Why can’t you understand that you’re about to commit economic suicide? Can’t you see that the failures of Barack Obama are mostly (although not exclusively) the result of Republican obstructionism? As when Clinton was president, their primary goal is to see to it that he (READ: you and I) fail – utterly and completely. If these people are allowed to take power again, it means one thing: We’re screwed. Just look at their history. What part of that don’t you get? HELLO???

And to the base: What good will staying home on Election Day do? Is it your intent that the economy be sent even further into the hole just so you can make a stupid and worthless point? What possible sense does that make? I know! I know! Barack Obama has not turned out to be the liberal firebrand that we were all praying for when he was elected two years ago. The guy has been positively tepid in too many areas to count. I guess it was foolish – and maybe even racist – to assume that because he is black he would be a reliable progressive.

But we should not dismiss him as a total failure! He has quite a few accomplishments under his belt that he (and you) can look on with pride. By staying home on Election Day you are virtually guaranteeing that the extreme right wing will seize the moment in January, and that nothing will be accomplished to your benefit between then and 2013. They are already saying out in the open that they plan on doing to him what they did to Bill Clinton: They plan on persecuting him by opening up endless investigations and issuing countless subpoenas. As they did twelve years ago, they will paralyze the executive branch of our government. I don’t think we can afford to go through that again, do we? By staying home on Election Day you are also assuring that Obama will be a one-term president. Is that what you want? Think about it.

Take John Boehner – please. Do you really want this reactionary little nincompoop serving as speaker of the house next year, setting the agenda? He is now trying to get us to swallow the idea that they are going to do things differently next time around. Are we going to be stupid enough to take him at his word? His party is now holding the legislative process hostage because they insist on continuing tax breaks for a class of people who already have more money than they know what to do with. Do you think for a minute that their position on that issue is going to change once they reclaim power? If you do, I have a stove made out of balsa wood that I’d just love to sell you. Any takers?

Ask yourself the following question:

“Do I really want  Mitch McConnell serving as senate majority leader?”

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know this: Apathy ain’t the way to go. Trust me on this one, kids. Stop pouting and get moving. There is too much at stake. If you refuse to participate in the democratic process this year – of all years – you’ll deserve everything that happens to you.

Tom Degan

Tom Degan is a 51-year-old video artist who in 2006 became so thoroughly disgusted at the state of America’s national political dialogue, he decided to take time off to become a freaking civics teacher.


  1. says

    Babies are precious (& necessary), but of course they don’t understand the complexity of the world, and the magnitude of the difficulties we face. The majority of Americans are in the same boat. (We all are, really, in the sense that our view is inevitably dim and our wisdom is limited.)

    Never underestimate the enemy, yet I think we may yet be surprised at the outcome.

    But the situation is just too serious for naive spoiled liberals to throw an infantile hissy fit, or for us to give up on them ourselves. It is vain to argue with the hopeless right-wing folk commenting above, but we must never give up on those we may be able to reach. We have five weeks to do whatever can be done to explain things to them, and we better do it. Time, argument, money, shoe-leather, all are needed. Then whatever happens on Nov 2, we will have done all we can.

    Remember 2000! The “hinge of fate” may be that close! Let’s be on the right side of it this time.

  2. Wes Tipton says

    Yes the dems are beyond worthless, and nothing the GOP could do would be worse than what these dim witted libs have accomplished in 20 short months!
    I hope ‘your’ side indeed stays home in droves on election day so we can take our country back from the brink of socialism. This onsense has run its course, and it is just about over, thank God.

  3. Lauren Steiner says

    After being fairly alert and active for the past eight years, I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter which party is in power or which individuals are in office, we live in a corporate plutocracy not a democracy in which our elected officials are beholden to the big money interests who get them elected.

    I just heard today, for instance, that three billionaires have contributed 91% of the $51 million that Karl Rove’s new organization is contributing to Republicans. With Citizens United decision allowing corporations to contribute unlimited amounts and with the FEC not enforcing the few disclosure laws we have, this corruption knows no bounds.

    If you look at how President Obama has governed, it is almost the complete opposite of how he campaigned. He came into office with the biggest mandate for change in my lifetime. He could have been another FDR and taken an axe to the plutocrats. But what did he do? He railroaded through a health care bill that only serves to provide 31 million new customers for the health insurance companies to rip off selling their crappy product. Because he didn’t fight for the public option, the problem that the majority of Americans who are insured have with their insurance, skyrocketing premiums, was not addressed.

    Obama’s financial regulations are full of loopholes, and because he didn’t support the Brown Kaufman amendment which would have broken up these behemoth financial institutions who remain Too Big To Fail, we are sure to see another meltdown soon. His financial team was the same one that got us into this mess in the first place. Even after all the brouhaha about his bad team for the last two years, he appoints Jacob Lew to replace the merely bad Peter Orzsag as budget director. Lew said during his confirmation hearings the other day that he didn’t believe that deregulation led to the financial meltdown.

    He has not gone after the crimes or the criminals of the Bush-Cheney administration and is in fact defending these criminals through his Justice Department. Guantanamo hasn’t been closed and the torture continues at Baghran prison in Afghanistan. He is still holding people without giving them their rights.

    He supposedly ended a war in Iraq but managed to leave 50,000 troops there. And he seems to be making things worse in Afghanistan. Not only is he not ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, his lawyers are actually appealing court decisions that have struck it down.

    In short, despite his rhetoric, nothing substantial has gotten better under his administration. There are more Americans living in poverty than anytime since WW2. People have lost their homes, their 401Ks and now Obama’s Catfood Commission wants to go after our Social Security. So no, I don’t see any reason to rush out to the polls in November except to vote on certain statewide offices and propositions. But with the California’s government being so structurally broken, it almost doesn’t matter who is in power here either.

    I actually agree with Chris Hedges that progressives would do best to work outside the electoral system entirely.

  4. Saje Williams says

    I suppose I might be the least disappointed liberal out there when it comes to this administration and what it has accomplished. Annoyed, perhaps, but I didn’t expect much more. Before the election, I’d seen Obama for a status quo politician, either by choice or by necessity, and didn’t expect great things out of him. He had the choice of making history for who he was, or for making it by what he did. He chose the simpler path.
    What we needed was a leader willing to risk it all for the nation–willing to risk being a one-term President in order to do what needed to be done. Instead we saw a man willing to make tentative steps, willing to let congress slap a band-aid over a spraying arterial wound and call it good. We saw it with credit card reform, we saw it with health care reform, and we saw it with wall street reform. Half-measures, feel good legislation, and pats on the head mixed with unwarranted insults.
    Such as the title and attitude inherent in this rant. Oddly enough, I agree with the basic premise. Sitting it out in November is stupid. Criminally stupid. Rather like letting the last administration leave office without a pack of legal hounds following them to where they stashed their ill-gotten gains. Allowing so-called “moderates” (or people who really aren’t paying attention at all) to call the shots is an act of self-sabotage that’s going to cost us plenty.

    But disenchantment and apathy are two very different things. And you should damn well know it.

  5. Joe Maizlish says

    Obama bought much of this trouble when he talked endlessly in 2008 about what “he” was going to do when elected. I suppose he knew about the legislative process (having been a constitutional law professor). Maybe his handlers, or his ambition, caused him to neglect that detail in his rhetoric.
    Now those fool enough to go for his overpromising back then are upset that he hasn’t delivered on what they ought to have known he never could deliver by himself. (Whether he meant to deliver, or even meant to try, I leave for others to discuss).

    • Terry Nash says


      • says

        Terry —

        You are absolutely right. We should all be YELLING!! This is worth yelling about. The November election is one of the most important in our lives.

        Thanks for continuing to read the LA Progressive!!

  6. says

    Degan notes: “By staying home on Election Day you are also assuring that Obama will be a one-term president. Is that what you want? Think about it.”

    Yes, I’ve thought about it. Four points bear noting. (1) The 2010 election is for Congress, not the president. And for you it’s for your Rep and Senator, not someone else’s. So if in your district a truly tepid Dem faces an improbably liberal Republican, feel free to stay home :). (2) If Obama is such a wimp and non-learner (from Clinton’s experience for example) that (per Degan’s prediction) he can’t cope for a while with a Republican Congress (as Clinton managed to, and Truman masterfully too – indeed used the situation to jujitsu the Gops in 1948) , why should I lament him being only a one-term president? (3) No, I don’t want Obama or any Dem nominee to step aside for a jerk like Palin – but I doubt that 50% of the 2012 electorate will want that either. (4) I really would like a real and fighting Dem, not Obama, to be the party nominee in 2012.

    Degan concludes: “Stop pouting and get moving. There is too much at stake. If you refuse to participate in the democratic process this year – of all years – you’ll deserve everything that happens to you.”

    Yes, do ‘participate’, but don’t mislabel this absurd oligarchy-choosing process a ‘democratic’ process. No, you won’t “deserve everything that happens to you” or indeed anything that happens that your efforts couldn’t have changed, but your regrets will likely be sharper.

  7. ChuckR says

    I consider myself to be part of the Democratic Party base. I am liberal. For over 40 years I have voted whenever possible, and I will definitely vote this November. In my opinion, anyone who feels (I won’t write “think” as thinking is no part of such a decision) that it’s a waste of their time to vote, you are both wrong and will have no right to complain if you don’t like the results.

    A variety of reasons caused the national and world economies to plunge down a black hole 3 years ago. THREE years ago, while “W” was in power. It took money and fast – perhaps not well-thought-out – action to slow the frightening plummet. The bank bailout and the stimulus package did just that – SLOW the plummet. Things aren’t yet perfect? Still out of work? House underwater? What did you expect? It took America 12 years to climb out of the 1929 depression. And America was in far better financial health than it is now.

    Since 1980, when Reagan became president and promised a balanced budget through lower taxes, our national debt has climbed from under 1 trillion to over 13 trillion. The only chance we had to reverse this trend was in Clinton’s last year. Unfortunate, voters bought “W’s” promise that America’s better off if we each spent our own money and permitted him to turn an “11 trillion surplus” into an 11 trillion debt.

    Now the TEA party complain our taxes are still too high. Continued underfinancing of our wars and way of life is a recipe for disaster. The only question is…how soon?

  8. noelle says

    Great article by Tom Degan! Right on target.

    Is it true that Democrats will stay home on voting day? Shame on this apathy! Good grief…Is this all it takes to get some people down, because they didn’t get everything they want? Are we babies having a tantrum? We have got to get a grip and understand what is really at stake here.

  9. Joe Walsh says

    On the bottom of all my e-mail you will find a statement:

    “ harry reid must be replaced as Majority Leader, call me when you agree or just go away!”

    I dislike Majority **reid because he is a line drawer, loves to draw lines in the sand, never follows through, and will just draw another line in the sand. I don’t want to see the nutty republican candidate in Nevada win, but I do want harry to be removed as Majority Leader in the Senate. He could stop the republicans in their tracks from holding up everything from appointing federal judges to passing real reforms across the board.

    Go back to 2005 and remember a guy by the name of Majority Leader fritz, fed up with what he saw as a constant filibustering by then the minority democrats he threatened what trent lott called, the Nuclear Option. The democrats shook in their boots, he was going to go around the rules with a parliamentary procedure and the world would end. Sen. little joe lieberman ran all through the Senate and was heard yelling, the Nuclear Option is coming, we are all doomed. So what the hell is this Nuclear Option?

    In the Senate, the Vice President is considered the President of the Senate. This is his only constitutional duty, he has some interesting powers as the President of that body. The one most people know about is to break a tie vote, when the Senate in close to a tie you will see VP biden up there on the stage looking very important. He can cast a deciding vote which means the bill is passed, but there is another duty that he can use to change the course of the Senate; he can override the parliamentarian. This is what our good friend from hell, Majority Leader fritz was going to do in 2005. He was going to bring in VP cheney and have him override the parliamentarian concerning the “Filibuster,” which is a rule that says, if you have 41 votes you can hold up a bill indefinitely. Here’s how it works in the simplest terms I can muster.

    Say you have a federal judge who has been nominated by the president to sit on the federal bench for life, but first he/she must be confirmed by the Senate. After the Judiciary Committee confirms the judge it goes to the full Senate for conformation; the fun starts here. The opposition party does not like this judge so they say they are going to filibuster the nomination and the appointment is stalled. Forty one, (41 out of 100) can stop a nomination in its tracks and harry will say there is nothing I can do—LIE.

    Ex Majority Leader fritz said in 2005 I am going to go around this rule and have our judges confirmed, I am going to invoke the Nuclear Option. Little joe lieberman started his run around the hallowed halls of the Senate and formed the gang of 14 to stop fritz from using the one tool that he had left. A compromise was reached and alito was confirmed to the Supreme Court and we have been paying a terrible price ever since. So, why doesn’t harry do this? *We have about 48 judges waiting confirmation with about 100 vacancies. Bills upon bills are going nowhere, we have the majority vote but can’t get passed the filibuster. I believe the democrats like the idea of saying the are for clean air, for cleaning up the mess the bush Administration left, want to appoint fair judges, want to bring our troops home and be good and noble servants to the people they represent; but alas they cannot because of the terrible republicans who filibuster everything. It is wonderful in politics if you can say you really, really want to be good but can’t because of the corruption of the other side. You’ve got to admit that is very cool. That is my reason harry reid should be replaced by a fighter, someone who will take on the joe liebermans, who will tell the opposition, “We will go around you if you keep this nonsense up!” The “Minority Party” rights must be protected, however when the minority become the abusers then they have to be told, “Elections have consequences.”

    When the democrats tell you that they can’t get anything done in the Senate because of the terrible republicans, know that is a straight out lie. When you hear the leadership of the Democratic Party tell you that you cannot change the rules until the beginning of the term of the next congress, what they don’t tell you is that it will take a 2/3 vote (67 senators) to change any rule unless you use the Nuclear Option. Once the VP overrides the parliamentarian it only takes a majority to sustain the VP. Big rule change by majority vote. All the judges could be consented to in a few days, I think there are now about 90 or so waiting to go to work. All the bills could be sent to the President that are in limbo, if only we had a street fighter in the Majority Leaders chair. If we had a leader in the Senate who would use this Nuclear Option once or twice and any democrat who would not stand with us should be shunned and run out of office in the next primary. People like little joe liberman should be stripped of his chairmanship and any perks that the majority leader controls should be taken away; have him park in Virginia.

    So, I will continue to have on my e-mail, harry must go.


    **Refuse to capitalize due to disrespect and or disgust!

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