Monday, August 1, 2011

The Supreme Court Is More Important Than You

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." ~ Anne Frank

2010 was a devastating election for Democrats. We've been witness to that over the past seven months, with horrendous policy changes taking place all across this nation. And at no time have we felt it harder than the last several weeks of pit-bull style fighting that the tea party wing of the Republican Party have engaged in over what should have been nothing more than a procedural vote to raise the Debt Ceiling of the United States.

The day following President Barack Obama's announcement that a "compromise deal" had been hammered out between all the parties was fraught with outrage by the more liberal members of the Democratic Party. And it was an all-too-familiar image of the anger felt by those same liberal Democrats that gave us the results of the 2010 election, which is directly responsible for the very thing that's causing today's anger.

So why is it that when Democrats get angry they stay home on election day, but when Republicans get angry, they vote?

The "leg up" that the GOP has on Democrats and Liberals in most elections is that they formulate their message in the broader, bigger picture. They get people to care more about the ideology than self. We see evidence of the success of this strategy every time middle-class Republicans go to the polls and vote "against their own self-interest." Democrats, on the other hand, have a habit of seeing everything through the lens of "self." And if they feel personally slighted ("That's not what I elected him to do!"), they don't vote.

I understand why Democrats frame their message more towards the individual. We are a party focused on protecting individual rights and freedoms. We stand for a helping hand when it's needed, equal access to marriage, giving teachers and students the tools and resources they need to learn and grow, for immigrants to feel welcome here and bring needed skills with them, and for more people to be able to vote, not fewer.

I don't suggest for a moment that Democrats abandon those principles, only that we re-frame the way in which we present these ideals, from focusing on the "individual," to focusing on the "collective." And not because the individual isn’t important, but because a) the country on the whole really is more important, and b) because we have enough evidence to show that that strategy works.

And the reason it’s not just important, but critical, that we adopt a messaging strategy that works, is because the future of our nation for generations to come is quite literally at stake.

We will all live and die. Our lives are finite. And while we all want to have laws that make our lives better in the here and now, it matters little if the enjoyment of those laws do not outlive us all, thriving for generations as the country becomes centuries and centuries older. This is what made our Founding Fathers so remarkable. They were visionaries not just for themselves to have better laws than those they were escaping, but for the building of a nation that would far, far outlive themselves.

While modern-day Democrats are focused on wanting to win today's battle (whatever that may be in the moment), ever since the Reagan years, the GOP has been singularly focused on the long game*. They have not wavered from a core, central determination to dismantle government and turn it over to the Corporations and enrich themselves in the process. The GOP has spent the better part of the last 30 years whittling away at our laws, bit by bit, regulation by regulation, court ruling by court ruling. Make no mistake, Republicans have a Grand Plan for this nation that looks nothing like the America that liberals or Democrats envision. Worse yet, it won't even resemble the one our Forefathers envisioned.

With "fundamental change" as their goal, and decades of experience manipulating the populace under their belt, in 2010 Republicans were once again able to control the debate; this time making it about the deficit. All they had to say was, "Look how HUGE this number is! We’ll never pay it in our lifetimes. Democrats are spending all of your children's children's money and they're going to have to pay our bills." The Republican base ate that up. They didn’t care if it would mean more job losses today.

Democrats, on the other hand, did not frame their message as one that was critical to the nation as a whole, not just for now, but for life. After a grueling year-long battle to get any kind of health care reform passed into law, all the energy they could muster was, "You really are better off with our new Health Care plan—just wait and see when it takes effect!"

Wiped out and angry, Democrats stayed home on election day. Riled up and angry, Republicans showed up in droves.

Democrats have to be smarter in 2012. Not just because we want to win now, but because one very critical aspect of our government will be "up for grabs" during the term of the president who next sits in that office: The Supreme Court.

Most, if not every single "bedrock" issue the Republicans have undertaken to destroy over the past 12 years will probably be heard by the Court that’s presiding from 2013 to 2016: abortion rights, workers’ rights, health care rights and voting rights. We already have the Citizens United ruling that gives non-living corporations the same privileges as individuals in campaign spending. Next we'll have challenges to multi-state voter ID laws that disenfranchise the people who most need the government to work for them, challenges to anti-choice laws that are cropping up all over the place, challenges to the Affordable Care Act, and challenges to Union-stripping that has been taking place in state after state after state.

The chances are strong that there may be two retiring Justices during the next president's term. That would give whoever is sitting in the White House the power to make 2 choices that will have an impact on the entire nation for generations. Those who are fighting to strip women of the right to autonomous control over their own bodies, are already chomping at the bit over the potential retirement of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg.

Democrats must open their eyes and see, not just the fact that Wisconsin's public employee unions no longer have bargaining power, not just that Kansas has enacted draconian measures that dictate the room size of janitorial closets in clinics that provide abortion services or risk being shut down, but the great landscape of changes that are taking shape in this country. We must start looking beyond our current individual struggles and anger and disappointment. This battle isn't just about you or Michigan or Barack Obama, it's about the United States of America.

We have got to transform ourselves into the kind of visionaries our Founding Fathers were and start defending this country for the long haul.

Even though the debt reduction plan hammered out by President Obama and House & Senate Leaders is not a progressive ideal, and even if you see the steps our president was forced to take in this ugly process as capitulation or "caving," we can't forget that we gave the president this Congress to work with. And we have to be the ones to correct that or our country is in the hands of destroyers.

In order to repair the damage that has already been done by the tea party Republicans, and to guarantee the freedom of choice, the freedom to collectively bargain, the freedom to vote, for our children's children's children, it is imperative that we re-elect Barack Obama to the presidency and give him big enough majorities in both houses of congress so that his appointments cannot be successfully blocked. We owe it to every generation that will come after us, to set aside our personal anger and fight for them.

Republicans are very good at their game because they are relentless. They do not give up.

And neither should we.


We need them to protect Women's Rights, Worker's Rights, Immigration Rights & Voter's Rights!

Here's what you can do in the fight to take back control of our government:

▶ Participate in Voter Registration Drives
▶ Volunteer at the campaign office of your state's Senator if they are running for re-election
▶ Volunteer at the campaign office of your district's Representative, or the Democratic candidate running against an incumbent Republican in your district
▶ Canvass your neighborhood
▶ Call your friends and family to help
▶ Host a fundraiser at your home
▶ Do phone-banking
▶ Support Democratic candidates OUTSIDE your own districts!
Please Tweet and Re-tweet this Blog Posting to your Followers and/or post it to your Facebook Wall, and ask all your friends & followers to do the same! (If you and all of your friends & followers, and all of their friends & followers, and all of their friend & followers, and so on, donated just $5 to each Democratic candidate running for a seat in Congress, we could raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions!)

For an outstanding description of what the Republican long game is, how it was formulated and how they managed to make it take root, I recommend you read Two Santa Clauses or How The Republican Party Has Conned America for Thirty Years, by Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, Thom Hartmann

And here is some follow-up reading regarding the debt ceiling plan, from some educated and reliable sources, including plan details and what we might expect:

Another Take ~ by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo
Five Things for Liberals to Like in the Debt Ceiling Deal ~ By Jay Newton-Small
The Democrats' Powerful Negotiating Advantage ~ by M.S. Bellows at Vichydems
Why Obama Won Debt Deal ~ By Craig Crawford at Craig Crawford's Trail Mix
In (Partial) Defense of Obama ~ by Ben Heineman Jr.
    "Liberals should be working every congressional and senatorial race, starting yesterday. Grass roots politics against conservatives, not Olympian op-eds against President Obama, is the best answer for liberal critics of the debt-ceiling deal."

He's right. Let's get to it, folks!


  1. Excuse me, but Republicans who get riled up and vote get to vote for those who actually do what they say: Hurt poor people, mostly of color; start wars; and destroy the federal government's ability to help most working class families in the name of cultural "conservatism."

    We voted for a guy who was supposed to be the second coming of FDR, and instead has been the second coming of Herbert Hoover, and worse in some instances, as he continued the policies of Bush II.

    You'll have to do better than this to get me to vote for the guy in 2012, and those Dems who have enabled the Republicans more than stood tall for New Deal principles.

  2. QUOTE: "So why is it that when Democrats get angry they stay home on election day, but when Republicans get angry, they vote?"

    In sum:
    Republican elected officials fight.
    Democrat elected officials cave in.

    We're not upset because we didn't get everything we wanted. We're upset because they won't even try.

  3. I'll vote for Democrats when they act like Democrats. I'm done voting for Republican light; I will not vote for Obama in 2012. At this point I think it's better for the Republicans to win and own the mess than to let Corporate Democrats continue to redefine the party.

  4. @Mitchell J. Freedman, Anonymous 6:28 & Anonymous 8:37, did you all click the tab at the top to see the "Major Accomplishments of Barack Obama"? When President Obama had majorities in both Houses, they were the most productive legislators since the '60s.

    Bloomberg: No Congress Since '60s Makes as Much Law as 111th Affecting Most Americans

    And in spite of not getting a public option in health care reform, not a single president since Teddy Roosevelt started advocating for a national health care system, has EVER been able to accomplish the kind of sweeping reform we did get. And please don't forget that this legislation, along with hundreds of others, suffered under the threat of a Senate filibuster. We simply aren't going to be able to get entirely progressive legislation passed if we don't have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

    Republicans are never going to just sign on to Democratic legislation "as is," so without a supermajority, concessions will have to be made. But don't mistake that for "caving", when we ultimately get a bill in spite of extremely strong opposition.

    And I understand wanting Republicans to "own" mess they've created, but with what we're seeing happen now in the stock market, I believe the nation is finally waking up to the devastating consequences of Republican policies that seek to tie the hands of government. The stock market is non-partisan, folks! And it crashes every time there's a Republican in office or a Republican plan gets foist upon the American public.

    So they WILL "own" this mess because they DO own this mess. But that is no reason to ignore the very, very serious consequences of handing them the reigns so they can be in complete control of the mess, because it also gives them complete control over THE SUPREME COURT!

    How did you miss that in my post?

    Justice Ginsberg is GOING to retire during this next term. The SC is already stacked to the Right. Isn't 5-4 bad enough? Do you want it to be a 6-3 court?

    Add to that the fact that Kennedy has said that while Obama still holds office in this term, he won't be retiring. But if we get a Republican president next term? Out he goes and in comes a 7-2 Right-leaning Supreme Court, filled with now-younger justices who will spend the REST OF THEIR LIVES RULING ON CRITICAL ISSUES THAT IMPACT THIS NATION FOR CENTURIES.

    How do you not get the importance of that?


    I encourage you to stay on top of your legislators to FIGHT HARDER for you PUBLICLY. They are our voice and we want our voices HEARD, dammit! I get that (see my blog post from yesterday: It's Time For a Real Grassroots Uprising By The Democrats).

    But please don't lose sight of the bigger pictures. I implore you.

  5. To 'Jill' we showed up to vote in Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and voted for a Democratic president and what did we get?!

    No real Banking reform (and why did Obama invite Lloyd Blankfein and James Dimon to dinner with the Chinese delegation - they are the ones that ruined this economy and then attacked Obama for bailing them out, expanded surveillance powers for the FBI, a third war, a give away to Pharma on the bs Health Reform Bill; no cuts to Defense, and extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, etc. etc. etc.

    There is no Democratic party anymore. If they and Obama are passing Republican policies then why vote for them. They don't care about the working class - they only pretend to. That's why switch from Dem to Independent and that's why I will not bother to vote in 2012

  6. There are only two choices in this country now. The party that doesn't want to change the corrupt system and the party that wants to make it more corrupt.
    I'm tired of always having to choose the least corrupt party/person and I'm not going to do it anymore. I'm going to stay home and wait for the peasants to see the truth. Then I'm going to sit on my roof and enjoy the view while the whole country burns to the ground.

  7. @Anonymous 10:14 - you are, of course, entitled (and perhaps even right) to be unhappy about some of the things you mention. However, while pointing out places where you feel the president has failed to meet your expectations as a Democrat, you neglect to give him credit for the long list of heavily democratic-leaning legislation he ushered in.

    Again, I point you to: Major Accomplishments of Barack Obama, which is just a partial list that's actually more than 500 pieces of legislation long.

    Not to mention, your concern over no real banking reform is off the mark. There has been major banking reform, even if it's still insufficient. On top of which, President Obama has been trying for over a year to get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau off the ground, and Republicans have not only vowed to oppose anyone the president appoints, but have submitted legislation not to fund the entire department.

    There is only so much he can do with both hands tied behind his back!

    That's why we must give him absolute majorities in both houses of congress if we ever want to see the kind of progressive change we're looking for.

    As for @Anonymous 10:53, it's sad that you take for granted the privileges that so many in this country before us were denied, and who fought and died so that you might have. The fact that you don't even care enough about your fellow Democrats to help us keep our country safe from "the party that wants to make it more corrupt" is just incredible to me. Are you sure you're a democrat?

  8. If Democrats keep electing corrupt/spineless politicians then we're going to keep having a corrupt/spineless party.

    And whoever said that we have real banking reform is a joke. Maybe that's what all of the Wall Street CEO parasites that Obama appointed are saying but no one, other than you propagandists, believe it.

    And the CFPB, give me a break - specific rules that are supposed be enforced are not even written yet. So when Obama and the Dems cave on funding the CFPB at least that mean a much.

  9. Jill, the specific commenters you're trying to argue with here are operating from a position of what's essentially religious dogma. As you can see, facts and evidence mean nothing to them. That the Democrats have done nothing good is an article of faith to them, like creationism or a flat Earth, and that's that.

    Don't despair, though. Persuasion is wasted on dogmatic extremists, but there are millions of undecided people in the middle who are reachable, and this blog is an excellent effort to put the case to them in a sober way.

    Anybody who can't grasp the need to avoid a Republican appointing Ginsberg's replacement is beyond rational argument. But there are plenty of people who can grasp it, when it's put to them in those terms.

  10. Thank you so much, Infidel753. I sincerely appreciate your perspective, as well as your support. Thank you for taking the time to post this.

  11. Obama hasn't accomplished anything.

    WE progressives deserve credit for all his "accomplishments" because we volunteered, we donated, and we mobilized to give him such overwhelming majorities that he couldn't lose despite his best efforts.

    Obama and Biden to pat themselves on the back for their "big fucking deal". They didn't accomplish it. We did. And they squandered it all away.

    And don't try to scare me with the Supreme Court. That's an old trick I've fallen for too many times. There's always a justice that's retiring soon. There always will be.

    The Democrats need to be taught a harsh lesson that they can't get away with throwing us under the bus after every election. Obama can ask the conserva-Dems and Republicans for support this time. Tell him I wish him the best of luck.

  12. It's not my fault that Harry Ried failed to change the rules for filibuster in the Senate or doesn't have the spine to demand that Republicans show up with a phone book in hand for their own filibusterer. 2006-08 should have been fair warning that the Republicans are now inclined to abuse the filibuster. If Harry Ried was hamstrung by it, he has only himself to blame.

    Nice try. But I'm not responsible for either Obama's piss poor leadership or the tendency of the Democrats to capitulate without even trying to fight.

    Neither am I responsible for the Democrat's loss in 2010, directly the result of their own choice to undercut the very strength we gave them. They should have learned a hard lesson then from 2010. It looks like they will have to learn again. Oh well.

    When they have learned their lesson, get back to me. Until then, Obama can rely on conserva-Dem and bipartisan Republicans for his campaign. Good luck with that.

    And don't blame me for what is to come. So long as the Democrats continue to run to the right (and they will because they know they can take saps like you for granted) it's going to happen anyway.

    I choose to break the cycle by taking some pain now in the hopes that the long term will be better. Maybe I'm wrong but I prefer a quick death to a slow one.

  13. Anon: The Democrats will continue to run to the right as long as they think they can take us for granted.

    Actually, as long as the far-left fringe continues to pout and posture and refuse to accept the limitations imposed by political reality -- and continues to sit out elections (or vote for hopeless third candidates) on that basis, Democratic politicians will quite sensibly write off the fringe's votes as unattainable, or at least not reliably attainable, and look for votes in the political center to make up the deficit. People who don't vote are politically irrelevant, and people who refuse to vote unless politicians deliver an impossible 100% of their demands instead of merely 90% are in pretty much the same category.

  14. I wish I had your calm demeanor on this, Infidel.

    My frustration, and, frankly, anger, about this kind of hard-line Obama hatred from the Left, was summed up spectacularly by a friend just this morning. All these "disappointed" -- as he calls them -- weenies, of the left, are actually poisonous to the larger Democratic party, because every time they spew their lies about Obama being a "disappointment/sellout/capitulator" they end up suppressing voter turnout among people who might otherwise gladly vote for Democrats.

    "In fact, the messages like "Obama is a "disappointment/sellout/capitulator and "Reid is a pussy" and "Pelosi is incompetent and should retire" do much more than Republicans ever could to win Republican majorities. Because that kind of talk doesn't convince the minority right wingers to stay home, but it does take the enthusiasm out of those who might prefer Dem policies but are now convinced it doesn't matter."

    These folks are actually more harmful to Democrats than Fox News could ever dream of being, even in their wildest imaginations. Most of the electorate who end up disenchanted, aren't susceptible to Fox News' lies in the first place. But they pay attention to what those who are supposedly within the party are saying, and if so many are so outraged, well, there must be something to it, so why bother.

    But there isn't something to it. It's as much sheer lunacy as the most far Right Wing tea party nutjob. But unlike the whackadoodles on the Right whose hard line rhetoric seems to draw in more people, the crazies on our side manage to dishearten more people. And that means people like us have to work ten times harder to reassure all the normal people they've scared off, plus convince the "undecideds".

    And as you can see, after first trying to use reason and logic, when I clearly see that those methods don't work, I lose patience.

    We're going to have our work cut out for us!

    Thanks again for your input!

  15. Attn: Mitchell J. Freedman, aka Anonymous attempting to look like multiple different posters:

    Google/Gmail notifies me who you are when you post, even if you try to disguise yourself using a fake handle on the blog.

    Your comments are no longer welcome here. Your attempts to make it look as though more than one person was sharing the same (misguided) opinion as you are evidence of your untrustworthy nature and disingenuousness. I will delete any and every future post you attempt to make here. And if you persist, I will notify Google.

    Have a nice day (life).


I welcome your comments and look forward to what you have to say. Thanks for reading!