Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Democratic forebodings for November (1)

The netroots have gotten worried about the Democratic prospects in the fall. And I'm going to be commenting the next couple of days on some of those worries.

But first, some of the beter news Think Progress reports on some of the issues Republican candidates are having uniting their parties behind them in specific races: Scott Keyes, Republicans In Disarray: Losing Candidates Increasingly Unwilling To Unite Behind GOP Nominees Think Progress 08/31/2010. for instance:

CA-GOV: The bad blood didn't end after Meg Whitman trounced Steve Poizner on June 8. Whitman continued to attack Poizner on the radio, leading the latter to declare that Whitman "apparently hasn't gotten the memo that the primary is over" because she is "still misrepresenting my track record."
In this case, I'm not sure party unity on the Republican side means that much. Whitman is self-financing much of her campaign and is spending heavily on ad buys.

On the Democratic side, Jerry Brown is the Democratic nominee and should generate enough interest and excitement among the base to offset a lot of the discouragement California Democrats might feel over the course of the Obama administration to date.

But the Democrats have good reason to be worried. Unemployment is high, economic growth prospects are poor. Plus, the Republicans have a well-established popular story that they are doing a good job of pounding into public consciousness week-in, week-out. The Democrats hardly have a larger story line to frame the current situation at all. In the Republicans story for the general electorate, Big Gubment and snotty libruls hate you and are conspiring against you. Plus libruls hate America. And God. And support fundamentalist Islam.

Paul Waldman in They're With Stupid American Prospect Online 08/31/2010 gives a description of how the retail brand of this populism for the benefit of billionaires:

[The Republicans] must be careful to keep reminding people, however, that the elite at whom they need to be angry is not the economic elite. No, the elite scorned by the blue-collar poseurs is the cultural elite, the college professors and cosmopolitan urban dwellers, the know-it-alls who are insufficiently contemptuous of foreigners and insufficiently devoted to your religion. (This amounts to its own kind of snobbery; as Michael Kinsley wrote a few years ago, "It's the only kind of snobbery with any real power in America today: reverse snobbery.")

If Palin is the politician who defines the current moment for the right, the media figure of the moment is certainly Glenn Beck, who managed to get tens of thousands of his supporters to come to Washington on Saturday. While Palin tells her supporters that their problems come from smarty-pants urbanites, Beck pulls his down a rabbit hole of manic conspiracy theories, telling them that the path to true knowledge can be found only by forgetting everything anyone else tells them. Understanding will come not from deliberation but from revelation, he says. Watch my show, and I will reveal to you the hidden conspiracies to which others are blinded.

And for $9.95 a month, you can enroll in "Beck University," a series of online lectures from Beck-approved polemicists concerning the evils of government and the perfidy of progressives. It doesn't require any prerequisites, just a belief that actual universities are festering cauldrons of lies and liberal brainwashing, and a willingness to turn to Beck for all the education you'll ever want or need. [my emphasis]
So far, this has been the national Democratic strategy this year, hoping that the voters will look at the Republican candidates and decide they are worse than the Democrats, even if they are not particularly excited about the Dems. It's not a very encouraging strategy. But some of the Republican candidates are bad enough that it's not entirely frivolous, either.

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