Wednesday, August 03, 2011

All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go. Poor Progressives and Liberals.

Today's The Fix tells us that liberal/progressive anger at the debt ceiling compromise is meaningless:
Liberal anger and disappointment with the president is real. But will it have real political consequences heading into 2012?
The answer is “sort of.”
The most obvious impact will come in fundraising, where virtually no one in the Democratic donor base — affluent (and liberal) individuals, trial lawyers, organized labor — is happy with the deal.
While Obama’s $86 million haul in his first three months of active fundraising suggests he will have few problems raising the money he needs for his reelection campaign, it will almost certainly be more difficult for House and Senate Democrats — many of whom voted for the final deal — to collect cash from a disgruntled donor base.
It remains to be seen whether this will be a temporary fundraising hit or a longer-lasting one, as Democratic donors hold out against those who cut the deal. But either way, it’s likely to result in a unhelpful financial lull for Democrats hoping to retake control of the House and keep control of the Senate in 2012.
A secondary, but far harder to gauge, impact is on the question of enthusiasm.
One of the keys to Obama’s sweeping victory in 2008 was the fervent following — in terms of campaign contributions and volunteer hours — from the liberal base of the party. Their energy proved infectious as the Obama effort went from campaign to cause.
Even before the president cut this debt deal, some of that intensity of feeling had worn off as liberals grew discouraged by what they believed to be a series of concessions made by Obama — from not closing the Guantanamo Bay prison to an extension of the Bush tax cuts.
That sense of abandonment almost certainly has grown among liberals over the last 48 hours. But it’s hard to imagine even the most embittered liberal choosing to vote for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (or whoever else Republicans nominate) over Obama. Yes, liberals are disappointed in Obama, but they still agree with him far more often — and on a far broader range of issues — than they would with any Republican nominee.
“The fact is liberals and progressives have no place to go,” acknowledged one Democratic consultant sympathetic to the liberal cause.
Well, there are places to go. One could emigrate. Or one could not go anyplace but stay at home on Election Day. One could vote for the Greens.

One could not choose to staff the phones or seal envelopes or knock on people's doors. And one could not donate, as was pointed out in the story. It would be fun to learn what percentage of individual donations to Democrats come from that maligned group of liberals and progressives.

The care and feeding of the political bases works quite differently in the two parties.

The Republican "extreme base" gets meat thrown into their cages, though the big things they want (end of all abortions, say) will be withheld to keep them suitably angry and hungry to go and vote, again and again.

The Democratic "extreme base" gets scolded and chastised.

Still, the anonymous comment is sadly true. The Republican alternatives are worse than the Democratic alternatives, though the further to the right the Democratic Party shifts, the less this will matter.

Except for the Supreme Court appointments. Those matter for a generation or two. To borrow from the wingnut campaigns against entitlements and government spending: Think of the children and the country you leave them.

Here's the calculus the Democrats use:

Never mind what the polls really mean. The way the Democratic Party reads them is that the Republicans have 40% in the bag (the conservatives), whereas to win the Democrats must appeal to the "moderates."

What this calculus fails to consider is the "stay-at-home" risk of the two bases. The Republicans worry about that and never fail to feed the wingnuts. The Democrats have decided not to feed the base.