Will Democrats continue their suicidal downslide?

Let there be no mistake about it — New York’s Democrats have every reason to be shaking in their boots. The polls across the country are showing that voters are covering their bets. They took a chance on Barack Obama. Now they aren’t so sure. Obama won because of an energized base. People I knew who never participated in a campaign sat by their phones and made calls to lists of people provided by the DNC. People gave and gave to get rid of Bush and his cronies and his right wing philosophy. While all of this was happening, the economic condition of the state sank to new depths.

Decisions made by Obama and his brain trust clearly assume that the base that elected him would stay with him and that he needed to dig into the pile of voters in the middle and to the right of the middle. That may have been a crucial mistake. It turns out that the Republicans will do nothing, and I mean nothing, to help Obama. The Republican “voice machine” has raised the level of histrionics. The Limbaughs and the Becks have come close to inciting to violence. I’ve never seen anything like it. The last time we saw it was in 1994 when the Democrats were wiped out in what could be called a “realigning election.” The Congress went Republican. Governor Cuomo lost his election in New York to a political unknown named Pataki. “Senator Pothole,” Al D’Amato, was riding high.

It would appear that we are on the precipice of another 1994 type election. The State Senate will be in grave danger of going Republican. Some of the marginals who recently won their seats in places like upstate New York and Long Island must have taken a look at the elections in November and had a glass of wine to calm their nerves. If what we saw the last time happens again this November, there will be Democratic carnage.

If the state Senate does go Republican, they will be able to gerrymander the Senate in their own image in order to hold onto power. The current leaders of the Senate have been inept to the max. Instead of making the best and the brightest their leaders, they have relied on some characters who acted too late (and like fools) and still don’t seem to get it. They don’t understand that the winds of change have reached hurricane force and all they can do is put on a protective and prophylactic rain coat.

As for Obama, he should have emulated the political brilliance of the Bush people. Bush never made the mistake of his father George the First. George the younger played to his right wing base without exception. He didn’t flinch on appointing right wing judges or on abortion or stem cells. It was disgusting but it worked and his troops never deserted him. When he ran the second time they were there for him. Instead of learning from that, Team Obama looked the other way. They came up with such a convoluted health care reform plan that people don’t understand it and are afraid of it and the polls show it. Instead of practicing democracy and encouraging the very kind of primaries that allowed him to win his Senate seat and his Presidency, Obama essentially told New Yorkers “no primaries.” His political ally Chuck Schumer played the enforcer and even Schumer’s numbers are going down as a result.

Will the Democrats wake up and get back to their base or will they continue this suicidal downslide? Will they reform the banks and remember that elections will be won or lost by their middle class base? When they spend their time taxing people’s health benefits and allowing the country to slip further and further into debt, they will lose elections.

People bet on Obama to be the President of all the people but if he and the Rahm Emanuels that surround him continue to desert the liberal base and think they can continue to get away with it, Martha Coakley’s race in nearby Massachusetts will be just the beginning.

Originally Published in the Legislative Gazette, 1/19/10

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5 Comments on “Will Democrats continue their suicidal downslide?”

  1. Billie Gray Says:

    Alan, Let me join the finger-pointing. Truly for the first time I disagree with you. I pay attention to what you say because it is generally brilliant – and I agree with it. I believe, however, that the far left leaning faction of the democratic party are the best friends the republicans ever had. Before I continue, I will mention that you and I are the same age. My parents were YPSL’s (Young People’s Socialist League) in the 30’s and devoted to Norman Thomas in the 50’s and supporters of the Workmen’s Circle. My mother is buried in the workmen’s circle cemetary in New Windsor. (Did you know there was a Workmen’s Circle cemetary in New Windsor?) I went to law school to be a legal aid lawyer in Appalachia. We’re talking socialists. They saw the perils of extremism in the holocaust and despite their extreme dedication to leftist ideals, they knew when to stop. I believe that the democratic jackals clamored as loudly as the republicans at Clinto even before he took office. I believe the democratic far left helped George II into his second term, and I believe they have brought about today’s debacle. When I was exhorted by MoveOn to demand that my congressman held Obama’s feet to the fire and not give him an inch, I pleaded with anyone who would listen that their withdrawing of support at so crucial a time would cost us dearly – and I didn’t even know of the potential Massachusetts disaster. I believe that Obama has made excellent decisions, and I did not have a problem with compromises on the health care bill as republicans said “we’re gonna derstroy him.” It would have been a step – albeit a baby step toward the democratic dream. Instead, when th going got rough, the democratic left pulled the rug out from under him and fomented hysteria among his base. Sorry for my rambling (I hope not incoherent) diatribe. But I am MAD! Thank you for listening. I rushed here – for the first time – as soon as I got the devastating news.

  2. Michelle Higgins Says:

    Wednesday morning and the Republicans have taken Mass. Senate seat. I honestly think he won on charisma; he had more elan than Coakley, certainly on radio and television. It turned around in Brown’s favor after the debate last week where he played the underdog and said, “I’m not in your courtroom”. After 35 years of Sen Kennedy the voters are used to flair and good rhetoric and Brown supplied it in spades. It will put more fire under the Democrats in the loong run but right now I just want to leave the country!

  3. Kay Abraham Says:

    I am heartsick about what has happened–what IS happening–to the Democratic hopes in this new presidency. Especially as one with a progressive agenda, I feel betrayed in many of Obama’s acions, or inactions in some cases. But this messy Health Care Reform is the worst! They should have gone with Medicare for All” since “single payer” seems to be poison.

    What I think is that the Democrats have missed the boat measurig the public’s sentiments. There is so much free-floating anger out there, stoked by the right and the crazy right and the Dems were on the wrong side of that anger. We should be the angry populists. We should be the ones outraged about Wall Street, We should have been the ones outraged about the insurance companies. We should be angry at Republicans in Wall Streeters’ and Insurance Company’s pockets—–Oh wait…we have so many Democrats in the pockets of corporations that we can’t say those things can we? The Republicans have offered NOTHING in terms of alternate plans to solve any of the issues that the public is angry about and yet their votes went against the Democrats. Oy Vey.

  4. littlebangtheory Says:

    How in the world can I “be the first to comment” on this spot-on piece??

    You’re correct as usual, Dr. Chartock, in your appraisal of the situation. Martha Coakley didn’t lose because, as I heard Mitch McConnell pontificate earlier today, the President and His Party had moved too far left of its base and needed to move right. Rather, she lost because those of us who voted for Progressive Change haven’t yet gotten it, despite the right-wing spin painting Obama as a Socialist intent on destroying America.

    Unless Democrat politicians start to stand up for their progressive base, and by that I mean everyone from union workers to farm workers to Hippies in the hills, they’ll continue to get “served” by a smaller number of right-wingers with fire in their bellies and very loud voices.

    You, Doctor, do as much to kindle our fires as any person I’ve encountered. Thank you.

  5. Lane Says:

    Absolutely! The conservatives already have the real thing to vote for. Why vote for fake conservative light from the weak kneed, quivering, dithering, inept Democrats? As for those who want an alternative to conservatism? The Democrats (most of them) have proven that there is nothing to vote for. So why should the base vote? The country does not need a bunch of inept, wishy washy, accommodating, stuck in the middle, corporate apologist representatives. We need strong, fiery, fierce, eloquent, defenders of the people who are unapologetically and proudly liberal. Those who will fight tirelessly for working people. Then the democrats will win.


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