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2010 Elections: Why Have the Democrats Lost Popular Support?

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  • What the Democrats Could Have Done
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  • Scaring Us To The Polls
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Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun.org

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Perhaps the November elections will not be as harsh on the Democrats as the polls predict, but the Dems' behavior in power has decreased their popularity dramatically.

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We know, of course, that the Democrats did not have a solid majority in Congress, given Rahm Emanuel's 2006 decision to back the most conservative candidates in the Democratic primaries in order to win in swing districts and take Democratic control of the House of Representatives (a decision he made while serving as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee). Democrats in the Senate followed a similar path. As a result, they won formal control and hence could be blamed for what ensued, but they did not have the votes to fulfill their promise to the electorate to cut off funding for the war in Iraq.

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Scaring Us To The Polls, Lydia Howell, Evergreene Digest

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  • What’s so pathetic about the Democrats is that they could have addressed voters real fears in the last two years and be in a much better position in the mid-term election.
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  • Advancing the Progressive Agenda in November: Don’t Vote Dem!
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Scaring Us To The Polls

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  • What’s so pathetic about the Democrats is that they could have addressed voters real fears in the last two years and be in a much better position in the mid-term election.
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  • Advancing the Progressive Agenda in November: Don’t Vote Dem!
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Lydia Howell, Evergreene Digest

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button in the above right-hand corner—so we can bring you more just like it.

Electoral trick-or-treaters this year span a scary spectrum.

They include U.S. Senate candidates like Christine O’Donnell (Delaware) as bi-polar former witch/contemporary Puritan and Rich Iott (Ohio) in
full SS Nazi uniform and New York governor-wannabe Carl Paladino as a homophobic Mafia hit-man.

Frightening rhetoric about President Obama has helped recession-proof the publishing industry, with right-wing screeds from FreedomWorks’ Dick
Armey and his “Tea Party Manifesto” to Dinesh D’Souza’s latest, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” which resorts to a weird mix of DNA and
reincarnation to concoct racist smear of the president.

To foment fear of Democrats' allegedly “socialist” policies, Republicans “No taxes! No spending!” (except for war and prisons) cry has been
amplified to an absurd degree. Of course, there also is the  now standard howl: “The Muslims will get you unless we keep ‘The War On
Terror' going at home and abroad.” (And, of course, Democrats are “soft on terrorism.”

Are you scared enough to keep Minnesota’s nutty Rep. Michelle Bachman in office or to put Colorado former DA/rapist protector Ken Buck in the US
Senate? There’s a long list of undeniably scary “conservative”-Tea Party-Republicans on the ballot.

That’s a good thing for Democrats, who rely more and more on the fear card, too, to save their quivering behinds: “Vote for me or you’ll get
The Terrifying Rightwinger---and that means women’s reproductive rights will be killed and the Supreme Court will go Frankenstein!”

(What goes unmentioned is how Democrats have allowed women’s reproductive rights to be whittled away by state laws, and how they
dropped abortion coverage from their healthcare “reform” bill. And let us never forget that some Democrats voted for the rightwing SCOTUS
justices, including John Roberts).

That’s not to say that much of voters’ fears aren’t very real; unemployment isn’t budging much and home foreclosures keep rising. Increasingly, people ask if the American Dream is dead, merely a grieving ghost that haunts the long-term jobless, those fighting eviction by fraudster bankers and recent college graduates with big student loans to pay off on a Starbucks’ minimum-wage.

What’s so pathetic about the Democrats is that they could have addressed voters real fears in the last two years and be in a much better position
in the mid-term election.

Throughout the truly terrifying Bush-Cheney years, Democrats'  mantra was “We can’t challenge anything the Republicans do because they have
Congress and the White House.”

What too many liberal apologists for those weak-kneed Dems ignore is how often Democrats colluded with the Republicans’ agenda ---by voting for
the PATRIOT Act that‘s destroying civil liberties, for example, and voting for pouring more hundreds of billions of dollars into occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and working to further de-regulate Wall Street – a little game that got rolling during President Bill Clinton‘s time in office, thus ensuring an economic meltdown at some point.

In 2006, once Democrats had a Congressional majority, George W. Bush’s veto pen became the unbeatable Darth Vader light sword.  All he had to
do was threaten and a majority of Democrats hid under their desks.

Two years ago, for the first time in 30 years, Democrats had the unmistakable opportunity to reverse decades of Freddy Krueger policies that have preyed on every aspect of the public interest . If the Democrats were still the political party of FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, they would have shoveled furiously to fill in the economic ditch left to us by Bush.   Hardly any of them thought to reach for a spade.

What should the Democrats have done?

Massive job-creation should have been the top priority.  They should have frozen home foreclosures and instituted real financial reforms that
stopped Wall Street from functioning like a taxpayer-backed casino.

While the stimulus package preserved some civil service jobs and created some temporary new ones, it was at best a nervous half measure. President Barack Obama has refused to push a moratorium on home foreclosures, even with the exposure of massive fraud by banks, which
even have tried to foreclose on people who’ve paid off their mortgages.

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The financial “reform” bill did not do anything to end the Wall Street abuses that tanked the economy. Hedge fund managers and CEOs are still
making out like vampires at the blood bank , even as profitable corporations continue to lay-off tens of thousands of workers.

Healthcare “reform” deserves an essay, or a book or several books, all its own. Suffice it say that, even with some positive steps such as ending denials based on pre-existing conditions or allowing children to be on their parents’ insurance to age 26, the 2,000-plus-page bill shape-shifted so constantly no one knew what was actually in it.

Hysteria about “death panels” was easy for the political right to pull off because werewolf insurance companies wrote the bill, including the hex that requires everyone to buy their high-priced, fraudulent policies, with no real oversight or cost controls. Most of the bill doesn’t even go into effect until somewhere between 2014 and 2017, but, insurance companies are raising their rates and dropping children-only policies right now.

President Obama---with Goldman Sachs economic advisors--- and most of the Democrats whistled past the right-wing graveyard with timid
middle-of-the road policies that failed to address the real problems we are facing, making them vulnerable to the Tea Party Horror Show’s attacks. The problem isn’t  “a failure to communicate,” but a refusal to take strong stands in the public interest. Democrats who’ve tried to make progressive critics into the Boogie Man are only contributing to the ‘enthusiasm gap” they fear.

Republicans have become like Dr. Frankenstein gone mad in his laboratory, cutting taxes for capitalist crony oligarchs, pushing for a permanent state of war that boosts ‘private contractors” from Halliburton to Blackwater/Xe and protecting Wall Street as it plunders our country.  On what should be the other side, most Democrats have become long on liberal talk, short on progressive action, morphed into a servile Igor doing the exact things Republicans do at a slightly slower pace.

The bi-partisan consensus to push a corporate agenda is the scariest real thing voters face at the poll. When will we organize progressive pitchforks and torches to storm the castle?

Related:

Advancing the Progressive Agenda in November: Don’t Vote Dem! David W. Culver, Evergreene Digest
Walk away from the Democratic Party and back progressive, third party candidates until the Democrats feel enough heat to adopt our agenda. We must be willing to say no. If not, we become slaves.

TruthToTell : Redistricting 2011: First, Consider Your Cities

The battle over who is represented by whom for the next ten years is under way with discussions about the upshot of population growth or shrinkage in some districts as well as shifts from one district to the next - or several miles away.

Andy Driscoll and Lynnell Mickelsen, KFAI-FM | MN

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And now it begins - at least at the local level. The battle over who is represented by whom for the next ten years is under way with discussions about the upshot of population growth or shrinkage in some districts as well as shifts from one district to the next - or several miles away. As the 2010 Census figures are compiled for presentation early next year, coalitions are forming to ensure that statewide redistricting is seriously reformed after decades of Legislative redistricting wound up in the courts - and still safe districts for incumbents were the outcome. When once we thought it possible Minnesota's eight Congressional districts might be whittled to seven by the Census outcome, it now appears we'll hold the eight by a very slim margin - as little as 1,500 souls.

Minneapolis has a question on the November 2nd ballot asking whether the city's Charter Commission should be the body to redraw City Ward and Park District lines, unlike the political-party-appointed Redistricting Commission, which ten years ago found itself under a cloud for its DFL-heavy redistricting out of Green Party incumbents and other anomalies which landed the entire process in court. This time out, the struggle is over whether the Charter Commission, itself questionably representative of the city as a whole, is likely to properly redraw the city's lines of representation. (Under state statute, all Charter Commissions are appointed from pools of self-selected applicants by the chief judge of the appropriate district court of jurisdiction, in this case the Chief Judgeof the Hennepin County District Court.)

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Some candidates are avoiding voters

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'Pressing the flesh' falls from favor as an election tactic - except as photo op

Sandhy Somashekhar, Washington Post | DC/Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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With less than two weeks before the midterm elections, candidates all across America are doing ... not much of anything?

Congressional hopefuls from California to Delaware are shunning the traditional trappings of American campaigns, avoiding public events, debates and other venues where they can't control the action. Many are keeping their schedules secret and limiting their in-person appearances and have canceled interviews on national television in favor of smaller, friendlier venues.

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Incumbent John Kline's lips are sealed, Nick Coleman, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN
With so little attention on his race, he clearly feels safe ignoring his challenger.

Fascist America: Is This Election The Next Turn?

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  • This coming election may, in fact, be a critical turning point on that road (to facism).
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  • Lessons from History to Guide AntiFascist Voters
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  • Don't Vote for Your Future Oppressors
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Sara Robinson, Campaign for America's Future

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In August 2009, I wrote a piece titled Fascist America: Are We There Yet? that sparked much discussion on both the left and right ends of the blogosphere. In it, I argued that -- according to the best scholarship on how fascist regimes emerge -- America was on a path that was running much too close to the fail-safe point beyond which no previous democracy has ever been able to turn back from a full-on fascist state. I also noted that the then-emerging Tea Party had a lot of proto-fascist hallmarks, and that it had the potential to become a clear and present danger to the future of our democracy if it ever got enough traction to start winning elections in a big way.

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On the first anniversary of that article, Jonah Goldberg -- the right's revisionist-in-chief on the subject of fascism -- actually used an entire National Review column to taunt me about what he characterized as a failure of prediction. Where's that fascist state you promised? he hooted.
It's funny he should ask. Because this coming election may, in fact, be a critical turning point on that road.

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Duty to Warn: Lessons from History to Guide AntiFascist Voters, Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest

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  • What Can Happen if We the People Let Down our Guard and Vote for Our Future Oppressors
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  • Excerpts, without comment, from Milton Mayer’s “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45”
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  • Advice for citizens who still have hope for America
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Duty to Warn: Don't Vote for Your Future Oppressors, Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest
Who should freedom-loving people vote for?
Advice for citizens who still have hope for America

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Rand Paul’s Bizarre College Fraternity

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  • Sure, they were idiots. But they also liked to make fun of blacks and Hispanics.
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  • Rand Paul's college group mocked Christians
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Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone<>

Last week (Oct 17-23) Ben Smith at Politico did a story about some material that's been dug up about Rand Paul's college pseudo-fraternity, the "NoZe Brotherhood" - I have a few things to add to the same story today.

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First, some background. The "NoZe" was like a fifth-rate Southern wannabe version of George Bush and John Kerry's secret "Skull and Bones" society, a group of wiseass kids from Baylor University (from whence Paul, incidentally, never graduated before heading off to medical school) who got together and smoked herb, pulled dumb pranks and published a very strange newsletter.

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Duty to Warn: Lessons from History to Guide AntiFascist Voters

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  • What Can Happen if We the People Let Down our Guard and Vote for Our Future Oppressors
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  • Excerpts, without comment, from Milton Mayer’s “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45”
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  • Advice for citizens who still have hope for America
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Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest

"What no one seemed to notice was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy.

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or was so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

No One had Time to Think. There was so Much Going on

"The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was, above all, diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things, and we never had. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about. We were decent people—and the fascists kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and ‘national enemies’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly. How is this to be done even by extraordinary men?

Niemoller’s Lesson: Act Before it’s too Late

"Your ‘little men,’ your Nazi friends, were not against National Socialism in principle. Men like me, who were the greater offenders, not because we knew better but because we sensed better. Pastor Niemöller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something—but then it was too late."

"…one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to go out of your way to make trouble; you are not in the habit of doing that.

"Outside, in the streets, ‘everyone’ is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. In France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, but you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends.

"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent. It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

Suddenly Living in a World of Hate and Fear

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves. When everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system that rules without responsibility.

”You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could not have imagined.

All That was Required of us was That we did Nothing

"Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, but no one stood. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

"Once the war began resistance, protest, criticism, complaint, all carried with them a multiplied likelihood of the greatest punishment. Mere lack of enthusiasm, or failure to show it in public, was ‘defeatism.’ You assumed that there were lists of those who would be ‘dealt with’ later, after the victory. Goebbels was very clever here, too. He continually promised a ‘victory orgy’ to ‘take care of’ those who thought that their ‘treasonable attitude’ had escaped notice.

"Once the war began, the government could do ‘anything necessary’ to win it; so it was with the ‘final solution of the Jewish problem,’ which the Nazis always talked about but never dared undertake until war and its ‘necessities’ gave them the knowledge that they could get away with it.”

Related:

Duty to Warn: Don't Vote for Your Future Oppressors, Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest

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  • Who should freedom-loving people vote for?
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  • Advice for citizens who still have hope for America
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The Truth About Civil Servants

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  • The shiftless paperpusher fattened on your tax dollars doesn’t really exist.
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  • By the Numbers, Public Workers Defy Anti-Government Stereotypes
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Michelle Chen, In These Times

Want to get a disgruntled worker really mad? Just point to his arch enemy: the civil servant. You know, the shiftless paper-pusher fattened on our tax dollars.

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This might sound harsh to those of us who still think the government has some useful functions. But bashing the government and its workers has become a favorite pastime for conservatives like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has argued that public employees enjoy undeservedly lavish compensation while their private-sector counterparts grapple with shrinking paychecks. Why should struggling families’ tax dollars finance the bloated wages of bureaucrats?

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By the Numbers, Public Workers Defy Anti-Government Stereotypes, Michelle Chen, Common Dreams
Reactionary politics have perverted the concept of "shared sacrifice" into a standoff between the public and private economic realms. But drawing this artificial divide keeps workers from finding common ground in challenging corporate power from the bottom up.

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