Rand Paul fanboy and holder of the Megan McArdle Memorial ‘Seemingly Reasonable If You Aren’t Hung Up On Facts’ Chair at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf is having trouble sleeping at night because he is way stressed out about Dronebama’s legacy and whether it will drone kill the shit out of Hillary Clinton’s chances to be the
first woman second Clinton to be elected President.
During President George W. Bush’s tenure, most Republicans felt that criticizing him would just help Democrats. Only the end of his presidency freed them to see its flaws clearly. Staunch conservatives who voted for him twice suddenly found themselves swept up in a Tea Party rebellion against his team’s approach to governing. They felt chagrin at the ways he had transgressed against their values, and they resolved to change the GOP so that the same mistakes would never recur.
Will some Democrats behave similarly when President Obama leaves office? Right now, most feel that criticizing the White House can only help House Republicans. But one day soon they’ll be able to look back at Obama’s two terms with clearer eyes. How many will feel chagrin at policies that transgressed against their values? How many will pressure their party’s establishment to change?
We may start finding out during the Election 2016 primaries.
Before we dive in, I’d like to point out that the photo accompanying Young Conor’s article is from this weekends #StopWatchingUs rally that drew a small libertarian-heavy crowd whose size would be embarrassing for a small town Friday night high school football game but would be a stunning haul for a Reason magazine subscription drive.
But, please Conor, go on about those primaries coming up several years down the road:
What will the Democratic Party’s next presidential nominee say about a drone policy that killed hundreds of innocents without acknowledgement, apology or compensation?
About the precedent of putting U.S. citizens on a secret kill list?
About the NSA spying on virtually all Americans?
About the pre-trial treatment of Bradley Manning and the persecution of whistleblowers?
About indefinite detention that persists to this day at Guantanamo Bay?
It’s almost as if Conor was asleep during the run-up to the last election a mere year ago when all of those topics (outside of the NSA dribs and drabs that Glenn Greenwald is currently monetizing) were on the table and, wait for it: the great majority of Democratic voters didn’t give what Mother Teresa used to call “a flying fuck” about them. If you don’t believe these topics were discussed by the progressive wing ad infinitum nauseam onlineum, I’ve got a handful of 500-comment posts (aka Tbogg unit) at my old hangout I’ll trade you for bitcoins and pogs. But when the last ballot was dropped on election day 2012 all the Mumia-sweatshirted horsemen and all the rainbow unicorns they rode in on could only manage to deliver to their standard bearer, Dr. Mrs. St. Jill Stein, was 0.3% of the national vote.
Kudos to Maine for kicking in a state-topping 1.3% even if it was only 7,975 votes, but shut up, at least they tried, so participation certificates for everyone.
As an aside, Ian Welsh, once one of my stablemates at FDL tangentially touched on this issue yesterday and, while I agree with him to a degree, I have a different conclusion about what happens when the electoral rubber meets the road which I will get to in a minute.
Back to Conor and his Hilary hopey-changey hard-on:
Hillary Clinton is poised to be the candidate of continuity. Like Bush and Obama, she would govern as an executive-power extremist, is implicated in the civil-liberties transgressions of recent years, and would almost certainly seek to expand rather than rein in post-9/11 powers given to the national-security state.
Will she be acceptable to liberals and progressives? Perhaps. Democrats will have an incentive to suppress this debate during the 2016 election cycle. If Hillary Clinton wins, they’ll have an incentive to keep suppressing it. I don’t know whether the party’s progressive wing would allow that to happen or not.
The actual election is three years hence, and in those three years anything can happen: a domestic terrorist attack, economic collapse, a war in Middle East, a space alien invasion, the Cubs could make it to the World Series (hah! not that one, no way) so I’m pretty sure that something will fill the Big Policy Difference Void when the pols get to palaverin’. But it’s not going to be the topics listed above by Young Conor because we’ve already saw that movie last year and the reviews were “meh”. Going forward, Obamacare will be growing and changing thing as long as the Smart Young Things manage to calm the fuck down and quit predicting DOOMDEATHSPIRALARMAGEDDONKABLOOEY because it doesn’t downloaded as fast as the latest Arcade Fire, so it will be in play. Gay marriage is a downhill-bound snowball picking up speed as it races through the states, so everyone will probably stay the hell out of the way, although we still have much to do when it comes to gay rights. It’s possible marijuana legalization/the failed drug war reform will be a thing (Libertarian boner time!), but the meat and potatoes of the campaign will be what they always are; jobs, the economy, the high cost of living, education, the middle class, choice, the social safety net, infrastructure and immigration reform. These are the topics that actually affect voters in their pockets and in their lives on a daily basis, not whether there is a “secret kill list for Americans” which is Sarah Palin’s “death panels” for Progressives. Yes, I know there is a list/disposition matrix which I don’t find unreasonable, but it’s not like we’re talking about putting the Kardashians on it … even though a case could be made.
The fact of that matter is that the average American voter doesn’t spend their day on the internet reading what Matt Yglesias has to say about something that Megan McArdle wrote which Andrew Sullivan linked to after Julian Sanchez commented on it in a Twitter discussion with Dave Weigel and the entire staff at Think Progress. Sorry, you guys.
Which gets us back to Ian Welsh’s post about blogs and progressives and where I part company with him. Because when the primaries roll into town, most democrats/liberals/progressives are going to look at the candidates – if there are any besides Hillary because Democrats aren’t quite as into vanity campaigns like Republicans are – and they are going to vote for the one who is most likely to win in the general election. That’s because, while idealism is wonderful and morally bracing, it’s not going to feed your kids, keep a roof over your head, and, now, ensure access to medical care without blowing your whole world up.
And we’ll let the Bright Young Things and Internet Chin Strokers and the Libertarian Concern Trolls keep eating moral dilemma cake…
Added: Jerome Armstrong joins in the the debate at Welsh’s and drops this gem on people who care about choice or gay rights or whatever to the exclusion of joining up with libertarians:
The oomph of the Democratic party in the blogosphere today can be summed up with a cursory glance at posts and comments on Balloon Juice, Little Green Footballs and Booman Tribune. They bend over backwards to justify the party bailing out banks, the nation going deeper into debt with global military expansion, and spying on citizens, yet they’ll nitpick that a libertarian is willing to allow abortion to be a state issue. They are more concerned with attacking truth-tellers like Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden than they are keeping anyone accountable or demanding transparency. That’s what they are really good at– justifying why the powerful should stay so and attacking the ones who challenge power. And, if needed, providing a handy social lifestyle issue to keep the division.
I believe that “handy social Lifestyle issue” was once dismissed by Ralph Nader as “gonadal politics“.
Sorry ladies, next time you should be a white male. They’ve got all the answers about what your priorities should be…