It’s starting to be clear to me now that no matter what the result of the election is, the Anti-Bush coalition is breaking up. The Obama administration has been accused of dispiriting its “base.” It seems to me that what was widely identified as symptomatic of the break up of the last Democratic coalition—interest group politics—was not resolved, but merely suspended by Bush.
These groups haven’t done well under Obama. The unions did not get EFCA. Greens didn’t get a vote on cap and trade (though there was some stuff in the ARRA). We haven’t heard anything about blacks; I guess a black President is supposed to be enough. Haven’t heard much about women’s issues since early 2009. Single-payer folks were never even at the table. Doves are unhappy about Afghanistan even though the phase-out of the Iraq mission has gone mostly according to plan. Civil libertarians object to the secrecy state and growing apathy towards criminal rights.
But the LGBT community seems to be ready to abandon the Dems at this point. Man, are they pissed. Routine DOJ defense of existing laws, including DOMA and DADT, has sparked outrage in a community used to getting its few victories in the courts, even while tough losing votes were taken by the Dems in Congress to repeal these laws legislatively.
None of these groups understand what the Democrats are supposed to genuinely be about. Their hijacking of the post-LBJ, pre-Clinton Democratic party is largely responsible for Nixon and Reagan. The Democrats are supposed to be the party of the middle class. That means when there is 10% unemployment these groups take a back seat. Shut the fuck up for a minute! It truly is “the economy, stupid.” Every single time Democrats forget that, or buy into bullshit Republican “economic theories” (i.e. kleptocracy) they lose.
This is the worst economic climate in 70 years; despite that Obama and the Democrats presided over the most productive legislative session in that same amount of time.Even though none of these groups got their preferred spoil, all of their issues were in fact addressed and progress was made on all of them. (Not to mention the smooth installation of two young Supreme Court justices that will defend all of us on these issues for many years to come.)
I am surprised we’re having this fight less than two years since Bush left office. I figured it would probably come about at the end of Obama’s second term, the way it did in the Nader/Gore fight of 2000 and the current purity war in the Republican party.
If the damage in this election is bad, the Democrats need to figure out a set of principles that they stick to in all situations the way Republicans do to issues like tax cuts, even if it means cutting a few people lose (but only if they are in the minority to begin with). We’re going to have to figure this out starting now. What will the Democrats of 2016 be about?