Dear Professional Left: Did You Think There Were No Consequences?

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.



Filed under Politics

31 responses to “Dear Professional Left: Did You Think There Were No Consequences?

  1. sherifffruitfly

    By contrast, in WA, we gained an extra Dem seat. WE IGNORED “PROGRESSIVES” AND ELECTED DEMOCRATS.

  2. the purity brigades need to learn how to count votes. they also need to get a clue and understand that elections always have consequences or as the article states there are no unimportant elections.

  3. Government can often be like a very fragile ecosystem, in which so many outside factors, even seemingly innocuous ones, can cause adverse effects. If Democratic voters and media figures don’t pay a bit more attention to the interconnected nature of things, these types of negative repercussions will just keep on happening. These pundits like the sound of their own voices, but they’re not saying much to help propel the party in a positive direction, and that just makes the ranting of all the right-wing media cheerleaders sound even louder.

  4. Vic78

    Those pricks aren’t as influential as they were a couple of years ago. Their sin is finding them out. Sully’s piece about the president’s critics came at the right time. It’s difficult to defend yourself from Sully without looking like a hack.
    It’s time to stop promoting buffoonery. We’ve got too much to lose on the ground. I’m seeing real consequences due to dumbass politicians getting elected. It would be easy to marginalize the GOP in 10 years if we didn’t have fake progressives to fight against. I hate having to sell Obama’s record to people who would otherwise support him. I can tell they’ve been listening to policy wonks like Bill Maher and Michael Moore.

    • I’m already seeing a shift, as numerous followers of the critics are starting to realize just what “the other option” is, thanks to the seemingly endless Republican primary season. I also see a shift in some of the smarter members of the PL for much the same reason, and, I cynically think they realize that keeping on the way they were is a quick path to marginalization.

      The others, like Greenwald and Hamsher, are just too far into their own little world of self-righteousness to stop, and I predict some increasingly desperate attacks from them over the next few months.

  5. nabsentia23

    As usual, you nailed it. If the left hadn’t stayed home in 2010, Dennis would still have a job.

    I really want to thank everybody on the pragmatic left for reminding me to “connect the dots.”

    The thing is, that in Ohio, we got lucky. Kaptur was the better candidate. End of story. However, in other states where GOP dominance has allowed them to gerrymander to reduce the number of Dems in Congress; who knows?

    • It wasn’t just the left staying home, it was the general atmosphere created by both the right and the left that had many thinking “a pox on both their houses,” and staying home. So while the Professional Left doesn’t bear all the blame, they definitely have a share of it.

      You’re right, that Kaptur is a better candidate than Kucinich. That’s why I have no patience with the whining coming from the “purity progressives” over Kucinich’s loss. How delusional do you have to be to think that allowing Ohio’s state government to go Republican was going to allow Kaptur and Kucinich to be in districts they could carry? The Republicans were going to put it into a “there can be only one” situation the moment they could, and that’s just what they did.

  6. Zekke LyDonna

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I have been so angry about the consequences of the petulant left. Instead of a strategy to increase progressive influence, they undermined one of the most progressive president’s in history. They attributed cynical motives to his every action, an whined when he didn’t satisfy their utopian fantasies. I don’t think they forgot that elections have consequences, I believe they wanted bad things to happen, so they could play the ‘You should have listened to me’, ‘I told you so’ cards.

    They continue to undermine the Obama strategy by demanding that he take ‘positions’ on controversial issues, like gay marriage, to ‘prove’ his progressive credentials. They live in their own little bubble, even as they laugh at the tea party alternate universe.

    Everything is on the table. The republicans are so full of hate, they are facilitating national discussions on a variety of issues, about which most people in the country are uninformed. They have created political space for the Obama Administration to ‘take the country to school’. I love it.

    The Professional Left will wake up one day and recognize that the change Barack Obama promised happened–faster than anyone had a right to believe it would. Obama is the catalyst. We are the beneficiaries.

    • I predict that they’ll wake up about 10 years after he’s left office in 2016. 🙄 I roll my eyes a lot, because that’s been their habit for decades. We have a president who enacts progressive policies, and they hate him while he’s in office. Long after he’s left, they canonize him, and use his example to attack the current progressive president.

  7. Nathan Katungi

    Norbrook, you are breath of fresh air. Your analysis is spot on. As you so ably demonstrated: “There are no an important elections.” I hope those who regard themselves as the PL will read your post with open minds.

  8. Kerry Reid

    My standard response to EmoProgs who moan that the GOP always plays hardball and gets what they want (which isn’t true because Bush didn’t privatize Social Security, but …) is that the GOP has VOTERS who always play hardball.

    When they whine in return “So what am I supposed to DO — just clap louder?” I wanna say “YES! And VOTE, dummy. If you want Dems to govern as you think they should, then you need to VOTE and be ENTHUSIASTIC and VOCAL about your support for Dems every single motherloving time, instead of this ‘lesser of two evils, why isn’t everything wonderful already, I-never-asked-to-be-born’ crap.” Fake it til you make it. It’s called Grown-Up Land. Sometimes you have to make choices you aren’t thrilled about but you do it the best you can and get on with it and try to move things ahead. You know, in a “progressive” manner.

    I swear I do not understand how some of these people hold down jobs or have any interpersonal relationships whatsoever, they’re that far out of reach with reality and human psychology.

    • I’ve told them – and they don’t listen – that it takes time to be a political force and real work. The far right didn’t become a major force in the Republican Party until they’d put in a couple of decades of work. They provided the ground troops for the party, they ran for the local offices, they worked the local party. None of these idiot “progressives” want to put in the effort, they consider it a major deal that they went to the polls in 2008. Heck, voting regularly is at least a start to being politically active. Necessary, but it doesn’t count as “activism.” Blogging or writing pity comments on web sites is not considered political activism.

  9. ” None of these idiot “progressives” want to put in the effort ”

    They are Arm chair revolutions as Angela Davis once termed them. They are in love with thier voices and I am so sick of thier “hyper purity” that Im starting to developing negative feelings towards them. They will never understand that while the Nation of Islam/Malcolm X was talking tough northern mosques Dr. king, the Naacp ect were laying the legistlative and philosophical ground work neccessary to bring forth change in America.

    • To be fair to the Nation of Islam, they did do a lot of work when it came to self-help and organizing in those areas. In terms of legislative and national progress, no.

      What many of these people don’t seem to grasp is that it’s remarkably easy to get into the party structure, and into a position to make changes. 90% of it is just showing up and being willing to work. It’s not glamorous, often tedious, boring and frustrating, but a few years of that, and it’s not uncommon to find that you have a real say in what the party does. Too much like work for them, I guess.

  10. “To be fair to the Nation of Islam, they did do a lot of work when it came to self-help and organizing in those areas ”

    This is true, but the Nation of Islam wasnt the only ones working on those issues. Also you can do self help without a bunch of hyperbolic tough talk .

    Where does it get you other than making yourself feel good and alienating people of all races, back rounds and classes who may have been sympathetic to your cause.

    Its all about how many votes you can get in the senate (and local elections) and commanding votes in the senate to pass legs that you agree with. Anything less is selling wolf tickets

    • Vic78

      The reason they had the influence they had was because the people they were speaking to were alienated. It’s easy to criticize them but they were living in a time when lynching was legal. How would you feel if you turn on the news and you see the police hitting children with dogs and fire hoses? Be mindful that this was happening a few states away now. Would you really want to be allies with people that told you that you shouldn’t do anything when people put on white sheets and snatched babies out of their houses? Would you believe in a system where the in group has worked the system to keep you in an underclass state?

      History hasn’t given the Black Power types (Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Black Panthers, etc.) a fair hearing. The people that Norbrook is talking about shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breadth as the black power advocates. The black power advocates did have some positive achievements. I don’t have the space to speak on what they were really about. I also don’t have the space to make a comparison that would favor the black power types.

      Toward the end of his life, Dr. King was seeing the limitations of the Civil Rights Movement. There were limitations that the black power types were vocalizing the whole time.

      • Vic78

        I meant to leave a question mark at the end of my last sentence at the end of the first paragraph. I do agree with you about today’s arm chair revolutionaries. My contempt for them has increased since the atheist Kenyan Muslim radical (that wants Americans to be nicer) got elected.

        Fixed it for you … Norbrook

  11. aquagranny911

    I know I had something totally brilliant to say tonight but it seems WordPress & Disqus are mating so I couldn’t log on until now. And I forgot what I was going to say.

    Oh well, I’m old and irrelevant anyway. Buenos Noches, you all.

    • Hmm… you shouldn’t need to log in here at all to leave a comment. ❓ I have no idea of what was hiccuping.
      The only ones who would think you are irrelevant are Republicans. Rather, they’re hoping you are. 😉

  12. “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.”

    That’s false. The redistricting eliminated a Republican member.

    • (sigh) Saying it’s false because one member decided not to run again is not the same thing as saying they weren’t targeting Democrats. They drew the lines this way:

      A recently released trove of email messages [2] from Ohio offers a rare inside glimpse into how it works.

      The messages, sent from June to September, show collaboration between the national GOP and state Republicans to redraw Ohio’s maps and thus cement control of both the statehouse and a majority of congressional districts.

      In one email, a Republican consultant working on redistricting for the state suggested that the new political maps could save the GOP “millions” of dollars in campaign funds by making districts safer for Republican candidates.

      The maps, approved by the Republican-run state legislature in September, favor Republicans in 12 of Ohio’s 16 new congressional districts [3]. And they strengthen the majority of likely Republican supporters in at least 17 state house districts, according to the mapping consultants’ own calculations.

  13. Your posting stated correctly that Ohio eliminated two districts, and then states falsely that both of the seats were held by Democrats. Instead of admitting your mistake, you wrote that the lines were redrawn to favor Republicans, something that everyone already knew.

    • No, I did not say that. I said they’d target Democratic members. Which they did.

      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.

      Which were Kucinich and Kaptur. Any other concern trolling you’d like to do?

  14. Arrogant Demon

    its comical

    They thought they can get all the power and influence that the right have over its people, without doing all the work, and it failed, They thought they can just plug in progressives in moderate areas and failed, and then stayed home and teach President Obama a lesson, and all it did was make their lives even more difficult than his.

    It’s just comical, they thought they can get off pain free, but that wasnt the case, karma wont and cant be denied.

    I would hope all this would be a lesson, but it seems the emos are still out trying to ratfuck again for even more pain.

    I’m not a masochist, and all this doesnt appeal to me

    • Vic78

      What’s really upsetting is that they could’ve used the momentum from Obama’s election to push more progressive policy. They could’ve worked to limit the Tea Party’s influence. Instead they went after the president. Had they promoted the man’s accomplishments it wouldn’t have been this bad.

      • The truly pathetic thing about that was that it wasn’t often the President who they should have been going after. Then again, given their ineptitude when they did have the “right target,” it’s not a sure thing they’d have managed to do anything. But yes, they could have pushed back much better against the Tea Party, instead of buying into the meme that it was a conservative grassroots movement. 🙄

        • Vic78

          You do have a point. If they were 1/10th as brilliant as they thought they were they would’ve started interest groups. They wouldn’t have to run it. They could’ve just raised the money and let the young and ambitious run it. It beats the hell out of a poverty bus tour, Justice League meeting, getting arrested, or whatever unproductive nonsense they come up with. They could’ve even used their media appearances to promote it if they were allergic to ground work. It means they’ll have to promote someone other than themselves. We can’t have that in America can we?

          • Some did, which is why I pointed to their ineptitude. 🙄 Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher started “Accountability Now,” which was supposed to be recruiting progressive candidates. It mainly ended up being something that paid the two of them. Jane’s FDL PAC turns out to mostly pay FDL. I still remember the disaster of Slinkerwink and nyceve. Adam Green’s PCCC has a singular talent for picking losing candidates. Michael Moore seems to mostly run around to wherever he thinks he’s going to get the most press coverage, which he can then use to promote himself – and his next project. :

            What they have in common with the rest of the PL is that instead of pivoting to contructive criticism, funding effective organizing efforts, and pushing back hard on the conservatives, they were going “Oh, we don’t like the President either! Just for different reasons!” 😡

  15. Today I watched Joachim Gauck’s (new president of Germany) acceptance speech, in which he reminisced about the time (two the day 22 years ago) when he became a first-time voter at the age of 50 (he is from the former communist part of the country and, as a pastor, had been oppressed by the SED government). The sentence that stuck out to me: “I resolved that I would never ever miss an election.”

    • I had an aunt who was the “political maven from hell.” The only time I almost missed voting on election day was the day I got a phone call first thing in the morning from my cousin telling me that my aunt was in a coma and dying. I raced down to the nursing home (I was the closest) to be there. Around noon, my aunt roused enough to see all the family gathered around her, and looked at me. ” Did you vote?” she asked. Seriously. I really thought it was much more important to be there, but she was getting agitated and insisted. So I raced home, voted, and raced back. She bounced back the next morning. That was the closest I’ve come to missing an election. 😆