I’ve taken my fair share of shots at the frustrati, because they have a lot in common with the Tea Party. That is, they both have a fantasy of what “should be,” and base their attacks and plans around the fantasy, not what is. Their “ideal” mainly revolves around what they think is good. One of the things that the frustrati do is constantly attack the President. It’s a rare day when they don’t attack him for “betraying his base,” i.e.; them, or or come up with some reason he’s a failure. You see, they know what he ran on, and he’s not doing it. Except for one little problem.
You see, they had a platform, and convinced themselves that he was really running on that. Of course it wasn’t just Barack Obama that they’d managed convince themselves about that. In the time since late 2008, they’ve managed to convince themselves that Hillary Clinton had an even better version of their platform. If only Hillary had won, their platform would already be installed! They believed in fantasy, and it isn’t the reality. If you read his actual platform, or even later editions, you’d realize something. What he ran on is not what they think he ran on. Matter of fact, if you look at Hillary’s platform, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s not what they thought it was.
That’s why I’ve been saying they’re living in a fantasy, and it’s the cause of their rage. Instead of implementing their fantasy, he is actually doing what he said he was going to do! That’s not to say that he hasn’t had missteps, been unable to do something he said he was, or changed his mind on something. He has. Sometimes I agree with that, sometimes I don’t. But, in general, he’s been doing what I’d thought he’d do – more realistically, hoped – when I voted for him.
But I’m a realist, a (gasp!) pragmatic liberal. I knew the problems the country faced, I’m very aware of actual political dynamics, and I didn’t delude myself for a second that candidate Obama was a “radical progressive.” He was very much a somewhat to the left of center candidate. Key words are italicized. How did I know that? I read the platform. I read his books. I listened to his speeches and watched the primary debates. At no point was there anything which said he was “really a radical progressive.”
So the frustrati who complain about “bait and switch,” and being “betrayed” are just demonstrating something: They’re idiots. The President is not responsible for their failure to pay attention. He’s not responsible for their inability to understand what he actually said. He’s not responsible for their rude awakening from their fantasy to the reality. That’s their problem, but they’re still deluding themselves in that they don’t admit it.
It’s not just their “problem” with the President that indicates they’re in a fantasy world. It’s that they think they’re really a political force to be reckoned with. A group which can drive policy inside the Democratic Party, influence mass numbers of voters, and can get members of Congress to toe their line. Capabilities that have never been demonstrated by them. They’ll all tell you they can, they spend a great deal of time on their blogs patting each other on the back for it, but in the real world, they haven’t done it. Ask them the hard questions and you’ll hear crickets. Look around and see what they’ve actually accomplished, and the answer is “not much.”
I’ve said this in previous blog posts here and elsewhere, that they made threats, not promises. The massive number of candidates they were going to recruit to primary various Blue Dogs? Didn’t happen. Their ability to mobilize resources and help progressive incumbents? Not there. Of the ones they “helped,” they either ended up losing – sometimes badly – or having the closest election they’d ever had. They spend a lot of time on blogs telling the Democratic Party what it should be doing, but none actually working in the Party to be in positions to make that a reality. When it comes to working to get legislation introduced and passed, they’ve been inept at best. They don’t understand how to lobby, they can’t do simple “whip counts,” or focus their efforts, and they’ve never demonstrated any working knowledge of how Congress operates. As Rick Ungar put it:
What progressives like Mr. Krebs consistently forget is that Obama has another virtue in addition to character – he knows how to add.
The President can manage to work out that, if he is to get anything done, he has to get a vote through the House of Representatives where the vote totals are stacked against him.
So, you ask, why didn’t he get his way when the Democrats controlled both houses in Congress?
Because the President can also add to 60- the number of votes he needs to accomplish anything in the Senate where the filibuster results in minority rule. All it takes is 41 ‘nays’ and the best-laid progressive plans go down the drain.
Which is something the frustrati never grasped. The ability to count, and the fact that just because Democrats controlled Congress, it did not mean that there was a sudden drastic shift to the left. It didn’t mean that members of Congress suddenly decided that they could ignore their constituents’ wishes – you know, the people who actually voted for them – to follow the programs promulgated by a small group of “true progressives.” Particularly in light of that group’s demonstrated inability to actually do anything useful or effective.
Those of us who live in reality understand that not all Democrats are going to be in line with whatever our current belief is. That the area they’re from has very different needs and beliefs than where we’re from. We understand that compromise is not a dirty word. We understand that sometimes “perfect” isn’t achievable, but we can get “good.” We know that if we want to influence policy, to set the party’s platforms, it means we have to do all the unglamorous work at the local level, and work our way up. It means we understand the difficulties in getting things done, particularly in Washington. But we live in the real world, not in the world of fantasy like the frustrati.