In my last post, I talked about the points that Glenn Greenwald, Digby, and others missed in their complaining about Dennis Kucinich losing his seat. As I said, if you read what they’re saying, you’d think that the seat had been lost to a Republican, instead of another Democrat. With all their complaints about “Democrats eating their own,” and moans about the loss of a “liberal voice” in Congress, there’s something they won’t mention: That they helped set this up. The reason you had two incumbent Democrats running against each other for a seat in Congress is because the Professional Left didn’t think there were consequences to what they were advocating a few years ago.
Let’s jump back to early 2009, shall we? Back then, many of the progressive blogs were discussing how to leverage the 2008 victories into further ones in 2010. Various “Blue Dogs” were mentioned as potential primary targets, and here in New York, a lot of discussion was devoted to taking the two remaining Republican House seats in the state. Those were good times.
Then came late 2009, and the battle over the Affordable Care Act. We had a litany from the purity brigade about how President Obama was “a failure,” and how “disappointed” they all were. Various members of the Professional Left were more than happy to write columns and appear on television talk shows to tell everyone how bad Democrats were, how they’d “failed.” In the meantime, the Right was busily starting the (ahem!) “grassroots” Tea Party, and pushing a mantra of fear, that the Democrats were going to do all sorts of terrible, horrible things to the country.
Instead of pushing back, the Professional Left echoed a good deal of it, helping push the notion that Democrats were failing, complaining constantly about their “disappointment,” and at the same time telling people that they should “send a message” by staying home. That went on throughout 2010. Here in New York, we had a parade of potential “true progressives” being touted as potential primary challengers to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Again, all with the litany that Democrats weren’t “progressive enough,” and we should be terribly disappointed.
All of which combined to create a low turnout of voters, which is what the Republicans were counting on. They do much better when voting turnout is low, because they know their voters will get to the polls. They wanted Democrats and independents to stay home, and helped by “The Left,” they succeeded in that. Which led to the Republicans taking over the House of Representatives, and control of a number of state legislatures and governorships.
Except the Professional Left forgot something in their drumbeating of “Obama is a failure, let’s send a message by staying home.” That is that 2010 was a Census year. That’s the year we count the population, and determine the number of House seats each state will have, legislative districts within the state. So? Well, in those states that switched parties, Republicans controlled redistricting, not Democrats! The people drawing the lines were not Democrats, and if you think that Republicans were interested in being “fair,” “unbiased,” or helping save a Democratic seat, you’re hallucinating.
After the census, it turned out that Ohio was losing two seats in the House. Guess who had control of redistricting? Republicans. Want to guess whose districts they’d target? Helpful hint: It wouldn’t be Republican members. Which meant that two Democratic incumbents had to go against each other for one seat. Ohio isn’t the only case. In New York, control of the state Senate switched to Republican control. Which meant that instead of lines being drawn to favor Democrats, now there’s a “balance” being worked out where each party will lose a district. Why is that happening? Because New York had one of the lowest turnouts in the nation, and Republicans now have a big say in the matter.
I’ve said this before: There are no unimportant elections. 2010 was never “unimportant!” Not just because control of at least one house of Congress was on the ballot, but also because who would get to draw legislative lines would be determined, and those lines will be in place for the next decade. So there was a lot at stake. But you wouldn’t have known that if you’d been reading or listening to the Professional Left. Instead, we were treated to constant repetition of their laundry list of gripes, grudges, wounded ego, and fantasy solutions, along with the strong suggestion that everyone should stay home. For people who claim to be “politically aware,” and get paid to comment on politics, it was a remarkably stupid thing to do.
What they did was to place their “agenda” over any practical political reality. They thought that it wouldn’t mean much more than “sending a message,” so they could then crow about how important they were, and “if only Democrats had listened.” They forgot that elections have consequences. So when I see people like Glenn Greenwald moaning about Dennis Kucinich losing his seat, I have no interest in their complaints. You see, they helped him lose it! They helped the Republicans in taking over states, so they have no cause for complaints. They didn’t think there were consequences to their actions. There are, and if they don’t like them, they should have thought of that first.