I’m traveling back today, so I don’t have much time to blog, but I thought I’d weigh in after reading this post from Atrios.
I’m much more interested in actually achieving policy goals than playing politics, but what’s been truly bizarre during the time the Dems have controlled Congress is their reticence about setting up votes on things to make Republicans eat shit. Perhaps they’re doing so now with financial reform. I would like quality financial reform to pass, but if it can’t the Dems can at least make Republicans look bad for opposing it.
There are a lot of theories about why Democrats are such weenies, and I think many of them are true, and many can be true all at once. I think the fact that Democrats are conservative themselves is part of it. Part of it is that they’re so used to socializing with Republicans they can’t play politics with them (though Republicans have no problem doing it to them). Part of it is the Villager mentality, and the media bias towards conservatives that’s been constructed to avoid the charge of bias.
But I think there’s another angle to be considered, which is that the teabaggers may be effective bullies. The teabaggers have a mish-mash of prejudices and incoherent ideologies, but I think they organize around one central idea, which is that they are the Real Americans and the people who were duly elected into power right now are interlopers. Of course, what that means is teabaggers believe that huge percentages of Americans—enough to vote their preferred representatives into office!—are also interlopers, but the Confederate flag-waving, laws making it illegal to be Hispanic in public in Arizona, attempted reintroduction of literacy tests in Virginia, and general grousing about how the entire East Coast doesn’t count demonstrates neatly that this is how teabaggers think.
The constant battering of one’s right to be considered as American as some bigotry-spewing, Ayn Rand-reading wingnut is the sort of thing that’s bound to make a person insecure. Sadly, bullying works. It probably wouldn’t work as well if the Villagers didn’t constantly play up the teabaggers as if they’re the only Americans that count, but sadly, that amplification appears to be unavoidable in the present time. I can imagine that Democrats, to a degree, worry that if they pass legislation that’s desired merely by the majority of Americans, but not the majority of Real Americans, then they’ve done something that’s above their pay grade. And that they’ll get punished at the polls. Of course, it isn’t true, but they would do well to realize that it would be easier for them to win elections if they acted like their base were Americans just as well as the people that will never vote for them.