Independent’s Eye by Joe Gandelman
Is 2012 shaping up as yet another year when liberal Democrats will teach their party “a lesson,” sit on their hands and help elect a Republican President?
These little lessons haven’t worked out too well for Democrats. It cost them a Supreme Court majority, a like-minded bureaucracy, control of the national dialogue and the shaping of key national political assumptions. Liberal Democrats bitterly complain about what GOPers are doing when they themselves often help gift Republicans power.
You need look no further to where the Democratic left’s trajectory has led than to its running away from the word “liberal” to the word “progressive.” Not even in the darkest days of Republican Barry Goldwater’s landslide 1964 defeat did you see conservatives flee “conservative.” Progressive is to liberal what “pre-owned cars” is to “used cars.”
Democrats staying home or voting for third parties cost the party the presidency in 1968, 1980, 2000, 2004 and control of the House in 2010. Amid news reports about the closed-minded, ideological view of many on the Republican right it’s important to note that the Democratic left sometimes veers in the same politically punitive direction.
Two personal experiences with the Democratic left were most telling to this independent voter.
While attending Colgate University I supported the war in Vietnam (until Richard Nixon invaded Cambodia), criticized flag-burning and believed in showing the flag. I let my sentiments be known in a Political Science class and one day the professor said: “The Nazis – in all deference to Mr. Gandelman – liked to wave the flag.” Even students who didn’t agree with me were shocked and he later apologized. I was taken aback at being demonized by someone so intelligent.
Several years ago I got invited on a local Air America talk show by a host who insisted he wanted a moderate’s view. Once I got on the air he sneeringly noted that I had been a staff reporter on the San Diego Union, which had conservative editorials but a totally separate news reporting operation. He asked me how anyone could be a real moderate. Each time I tried to answer he and his producer loudly talked over me saying things such as “A moderate cup of coffee…A moderate case of AIDS…A moderate case of cancer.”
They abruptly hung up after implying I was right winger disguised as a moderate since I wasn’t a Democratic Party liberal.
At the Netroots Nation conference liberal bloggers said Barack Obama wasn’t liberal enough. Dan Choi, the Iraq War veteran discharged for being gay, ripped up an Obama campaign brochure when an Obama political aide told him that the aide wasn’t supportive of gay marriage. Choi had praised Obama’s signing the Don’t As Don’t Tell repeal but now suggests he might not support Obama because Obama and Company aren’t endorsing gay marriage.
This is indicative of the attitude of some on the Democratic left which has contributed to the party frittering away its once-potent New Deal-Great Society derived power: if a President or the party doesn’t give some Democrats everything they want they’ll risk not just their own long term goals but existing gains by staying home. But not voting is voting.
Meanwhile, some liberals seemingly forget about the Supreme Court. Curt Levey, Executive Director of the conservative Committee for Justice, told The Politico: “There will definitely be an argument in the 2012 election that we are on the verge of having another (liberal) Warren Court, because (conservative justices Anthony) Kennedy and (Antonin) Scalia will be 80 by the end of 2016.”
If Obama loses in 2012 due to liberals staying home then it might be useful to paraphrase Shakespeare: “”The fault, dear liberals, is not in your candidate or your opponents, but in yourselves.”
Copyright 2011 Joe Gandelman
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be booked to speak at your event at www.mavenproductions.com.
Follow Joe Gandelman on Twitter @joegandelman.