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October 25, 2006


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right on. go away Air America. i will vote, but dont see the possibilities all of these Democrats are screaming about.

bob allen

Until capitalism is overthrown, there will be no change; both parties represent the interests of business- they are bourgeois parties.


I will stake a fair amount that your skeptical prediction comes true. Gambling does not get any easier than that. You cannot go wrong by betting on the inertia of the Democratic Party.


I hate to sound like the pragmatist of the bunch, but what are the consequences if the dems don't take back at least the house? First there will be the obvious question of whether the election was stolen. This will further polarize the country. And despite your justified skepticism, we have the real possibility of another supreme court justice getting appointed unopposed. And it would be very difficult for the President to Veto an increase to the minimum wage. The list goes on but you can see where I am going - the dems are not a strong opposition, but they are better than nothing. I respect the fact that you might think they provide the illustion of an opposition, but I really think they do provide a difference, even if it is not as great as any of us would like. In my state of residence (Minnesota), if the democrat wins the governorship we have a real chance at Univeral healthcare. To me, that is something worth fighting for.


Hi Alain,
the way a friend of mine put it today is that, yes they are standing in the middle of the road, but at least they are blocking it a bit; she also pointed out that Bush can still do a lot of damage if his party controls both Houses.

Kenneth Rufo

It's not just tha they're slightly better, it's that it's far easier to move the Democrats left than it is to move the Republicans to the center. I know folks like their pretense of revolution, but it ain't coming, and most change happens in increments, via adaptation and strategy. I often loathe the Democrats, and I'll advocate a vote for them whenever, wherever possible.


Thanks, Kenneth. Although, I have to say, this is the kind of comment that moves me back to the fringe. I hate the forced choice pushed on the far left by liberals and Democrats. I hate the presumption that the Democrats are pushed by the far left caving in and supporting them. It seems to me that they are more likely to be pushed if they think they need the left.

I also think that what makes revolution impossible is thinking that it's impossible.

john buell

Tip O'Neils' line that all politics is local may be overdone, but has more truth in off year elections. The Democrats are not a coherent opposition party, but the US has never had very united parties. I share Jodi's disdain for many Democrats, but like Alain, I can point to some local races where even a big vote for the Democrat would make a political statement. Here in Maine, our supposedly moderate but pro war and pro Alito Republican Olymnpia Snowe is being challenged by a very progressive Democrat, Jean Hay Bright. Bright probably has no chance, but even respectable losses can help to change political dialogue. I think readers of this blog should take a close look at their own races, as I am sure they will.

Secondly, it is worth considering that even if the Dems take control of the House by electing some mediocre minus challengers, Democratic control of the House does make some interesting senior members of the party committe chairs, who could exert some control of the subject matter of our politics.

The more difficult issue for me is what to do when there is an interesting third party nominee who probably can't win but who might lead to the election of an awful Republican, a prospect we also have in the Maine governor race.

Kenneth Rufo

I don't see how the Democrats realize they need us if we don't vote for them. Seems like a self-fulfilling failure of the left.

And I think revolution is possible, just really, really unlikely, and I like to play the odds. My concern ends up being the opposite: the ones who are hoping for the revolution are usually the ones who can afford to do so, and they make incremental change more difficult. I'm thinking of a friend of mine, white and male and upper middle class, who voted for Nader in 2000 hoping Bush would win and that real change would happen in its wake. It's a nice and principled stance, assuming you aren't concerned about who the military industrial complex hurts in the meantime, the consequences of supreme court nominees and various judicial decisions and appointments, and the power of the executive to gut environmental protections. He begrudgingly admits that he might have been a bit off in his hopes back then...

The price of one's authentic political position, it seems to me, is a particular type of political absence and concession. Engagement in electoral politics is also a concession, it's just one that I find more conducive to the social good and less conducive to me feeling good about my experience with politics.

Then again, I decided against running for office (something I started researching and considering a few years back( because I didn't think I could stomach the sorts of compromises that it would require, which I guess shows that my "will not cross" line of authentic political existence isn't so far away...


The Democrats take for granted that those on the left will vote for them, so they don't bother with them. Even more, they don't bother with mobilization or turn out among this constituency, aiming instead for Independents. The thing is, they imagine that the independents are in the middle, in between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans appeal to their base. They realize that they need their base, their energy, commitment, and turn out. If progressives give the Democrats what they want--support, votes--the Democrats have no incentive to take progressive interests seriously; again, they already have their votes, so why make any concessions. From another angle, parties try to get voters, groups, they do this by trying to offer what the voters and groups want or will find attractive; the Dems don't bother doing this with progressives.

John's right about local--the candidate for Congress in the 24th, my district, favored the law against habeus corpus etc, so I don't think he's in better than a Republican. The candidate in his district sounds much better. On the governor election, I would work for the third party candidate. There's a chance (the Republican candidate could die, get caught in a scandal or even lose), but more, it builds a party and an alternative rather than taken the choices presented to us as the only ones available.

Kenneth Rufo

I'm sorry, because I don't know which Dem races you're talking about, but the grassroots organizers I know who are working for the Democrats have, like the Republicans long abandoned the conventional wisdom of the early 90s that independents were the battleground. The new battleground is turnout of the base that feels out of touch, which means they need your vote very much and definitely do not take it for granted. Well, I can't speak to/for your situation, but I know that's the general wisdom coming from folks working via MoveOn and the DNC on voter registration, GOTV projects, and media events.


Kenneth, regarding your comment on Nader hoping for a Bush victory because people won't stand for it and hell to those caught up in the military-industrial complex: recognizing that the discussion is primarily in reference to the House and Nader/Bush is to the Presidency, I'll make a comment from outside the US, but watching enough American network TV in a enough timezones that I've seen ads in New York, Michigan and Washington: Until the end of the commercial, I cannot tell what party the candidate is for! The first time I saw Clinton's Senate commercial (at least the one that runs in "the north country"), I thought it was for a Republican. (And they call her a radical left wing feminist!) While that part of the state certainly has a strong military background and, to that extent you have to appeal to the voters, I couldn't tell her own commercials from what I'd imagine the commercials of an ardent Bush-ite to look like. Similarly, watching commercials for the Governor race in Michigan, I can't tell who the Republican and who the Democrat is. And the Washington ads are even weirder. The race that is clear to me - i.e., who the Democrat is - is for New York's comptroller. He tells he's fought Bush for years and will continue to do so. Your point that it is easier to get a Democrat to go left than a Republican to go center is lunacy. At the very best, all these Democrats are, from my perspective, right center figures who, if they were in Canadian politics, would be members of the right wing of the Liberal Party, if not full members of the Conservative mainstream!

But, of course, this is nothing new.

McKenzie Wark

I hope the Dems win so we can go back to regular blend exploitation, rather than exploitation plus the conservative-flavor Republican weirdness.


I'm voting absentee, a straight Democratic ticket (with the exception of Bernie Sanders, obviously). And except for Matt Dunne, who I heard speak for an hour in praise of Tom Friedman, and then exchanged violent emails with; suffice to say he's the only Dem not getting my vote. Granted, this is a calculated gesture too, for VT is extremely close to Canada, and therefore almost genuinely liberal (he'll probably win anyway).

The choices down in Asheville are between a timber magnate and a real estate tycoon, but then, there are at least 5 competing vectors of the Democratic party (and on a good day, progressives may have all of three). So yeah, pressure on the Democrats is harder to exert for that reason, but it has to start somewhere.

Thank God we don't have conditions of revolution in this country.


As in, a military coup, for instance (...at least part of me wants to say). Those guys are truly scary.

However, if Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman and Howard Zinn want to lead the charge, I may need to reconsider this.

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