Sunday, April 07, 2013

The world works in complicated ways

I know he wasn't talking to me, but since I actually mentioned it myself, I can't stop thinking about what Atrios said about 2010 a couple of day ago. This is a rare occasion where I don't think he has it quite right.

I don't know what Atrios was reading, but I certainly didn't bring up the lessons of 2010 as a rebuke to pissed off progressives. Even when I disagree on tactics, I've long said everyone should do what they think will be most effective. But it seems useful to look back and see how what tactics worked -- or didn't.

Not saying people shouldn't bitch about bad policy choices. But think it's more effective to spend more time fighting the other side instead of against our allies. What I remember about 2010 is lots of pissed off progressives complaining non-stop that Obama didn't fix everything in two years. The decibel level was deafening. I remember being hollered at by pissed off progressives for not being pissed off enough, for accepting small victories and wanting to lay off Obama until after the election. I had more than one close friend tell me nothing the Dems passed was good enough and we'd be better off if the crackpot cons won because it would teach everybody a lesson.

There's no doubt that Obama and the Dems screwed that election up in every way possible. They didn't make their own case. They were running scared, cowed by a media catering to the new exciting tea party movement, terrified of the crackpot cons who were demonstrating outside of Dem events carrying loaded guns, and dodging the flack from an all out assault by pissed off progressives.

It's true that the individual votes of pissed off internet political junkies who bitch online didn't swing a single election. But the people who stayed home in 2010 were not phantoms and the noise generated by pissed off progressives arguably had some effect on that. Those of us who were trying to make the case that allowing crackpot cons to get elected was going to set us back were being drowned out. The message being internalized by the non-voters was Democrats are just as bad as Republicans, so why bother to vote at all?

Not blaming anyone for anything, just saying words have consequences. More so today than ever with Big Media taking their cues from the twitters. Thinking we can maybe learn something from the past that will help advance liberal policy in the future.
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