Lessons on the Left

Here are a couple of good articles at Lawyers, Guns and Money that are worth your time. Erik Loomis writes,

I would like to think that we on the left actually do understand history. We do not. There is a clear path to change. Conservatives understand this. You take over the party structure. That’s what they did in the 1950s and 1960s when they were disgusted by the moderate Republicanism of Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren, and Nelson Rockefeller. They took over party structures and local offices and turned them into bastions of energized conservatism. Note that conservatives basically don’t run 3rd party campaigns. Libertarians might talk about doing this–but they almost all vote Republican in the end because they know that they are moving their agenda forward by doing so.

Any reading of history shows that change within the American political system does not come through third party campaigns. It comes through the hard work of organizing our communities to demand change. Eventually legal and political changes are necessary–but only after people are organized to demand them. Look at the major movements in the last century. The labor movement, African-American civil rights, the women’s movement, gay rights movement. Each of these movements spent decades (or a century) organizing for change. For each of them, there was a moment when it all came together and they could demand transformations of federal and state law, which for gay rights is happening right now.

Note that not a single one of these transformational social movements used a third party mechanism as an important strategy.

It seems that every other year or so some progressive comes up with the bright idea of organizing a third party, as if such a thing has never been tried before. In fact, there have been many strong efforts to create a third party, beginning about 1830 or so. In the 19th century there were more alternative parties than you can shake a stick at. Yet there are only two nationally dominant parties at a time, although not the same ones. That we remain stuck with two, and only two, nationally dominant parties has to do with the way we hold elections, and until that changes, we’ve got two parties.

The other thing that has saddened me terribly is the way so many people turned their backs on President Obama almost as soon as he was elected. Some didn’t even wait for him to be inaugurated. A lot of those were disgruntled Hillary supporters. But it was naive to think that all we had to do was elect a Dem president and then sit back and wait for him to fix everything in the first half of the first term.

I went back and read the post I wrote after the election in 2008, saying that electing Obama was just the beginning of the fight. I think it holds up pretty well.

Erik Loomis is right; the Left doesn’t understand history and doesn’t understand how to play the long game. That’s why can’t get ahead of the Right. And the fact is, the Dems in the past couple of years have become tougher and more united, and as this campaign has shown they are no longer shy about standing firmly on controversial social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. This is a tangible change from where they were four years ago. We need to build on that.

Scott Lemieux also addresses the issue of third parties, plus see his piece at TAP.

One More Day

Nate Silver has Mitt’s chances down to 13.7 percent, and a new NPR poll taken entirely after Hurricane Sandy shows the President ahead, 48 percent to 45 percent, among likely voters.

Republicans in Ohio and Florida are blatantly working to suppress Democratic votes and hand the states to Romney. One of the reasons I worked out the Poll Closing Watch List yesterday was to try to understand for myself how much it mattered. It would certainly hurt if Romney claims both Ohio and Florida, but it isn’t necessarily fatal.

And don’t forget Virginia. Virginia is leaning Obama, although it’s very close. If the President does win Virginia, the odds that Florida and Ohio won’t matter are much improved.

Lots of people are laughing at Politico

Democrats have a liberal problem

If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.

A broad mandate this is not.

The pressure on Obama to deliver for this liberal base will be powerful. Already, top left-wing groups are pressuring him not to buckle on a grand bargain that includes any entitlement cuts.

And if Obama wins, he will be dealing with a House Democratic Caucus more liberal than he is. The past four years have decimated the once-strong bloc of conservative Southern Democrats, leaving behind a caucus more liberal than ever. By POLITICO’s count, there will most likely be roughly 14 conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats in the next Congress, down from 50-plus only a few years ago.

I almost don’t know where to start.

Josh Marshall snarks: “Or to be more specific, Obama’s winning but not with the best votes. I mean really, if you can’t win with a broad cross-section of white people, can you really be said to represent the country? Really.”

Steve M
: “Never mind the fact that if you’re a successful Republican presidential candidate, you’re considered to have a ‘broad mandate’ if you get suburban white voters in Michigan as well as suburban white voters in Mississippi.”

Yes, children, if President Obama wins on quantity of votes, he will still lose on quality of votes and therefore have no mandate to govern. He’s not a real President, because angry old less-educated southern white men don’t like him, is why.

Scott Lemieux: “Shorter Politico: Democratic states should get 3/5ths representation in the Electoral College.” Hah.

And, of course, I see the increased percentage of real Dems, as opposed to Blue Dogs, in Congress as a feature, not a bug. And “Already, top left-wing groups are pressuring him not to buckle on a grand bargain that includes any entitlement cuts.” Yes, thank you. Exactly what’s needed.