Well, on paper, anyhow!
From Matt Stoller’s piece in Salon.com
Obama has ruined the Democratic Party. The 2010 wipeout was an electoral catastrophe so bad you’d have to go back to 1894 to find comparable losses. From 2008 to 2010, according to Gallup, the fastest growing demographic party label was former Democrat. Obama took over the party in 2008 with 36 percent of Americans considering themselves Democrats. Within just two years, that number had dropped to 31 percent, which tied a 22-year low.
So what can party leaders do? History offers one model. In 1892, the Democratic Party nominated Grover Cleveland, and with sweeping majorities in both houses, Democrats had control of the federal government for the first time since before the Civil War. Then a financial crisis, plus Cleveland’s stubborn allegiance to banking interests, turned his presidency into a catastrophe for Democrats.
When taking state candidates into account, the 1894 midterm elections were comparable to the 2010 wipeout; Cleveland was disliked so ardently that party leaders pushed him out of running for reelection. Instead the Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan, who introduced many populist themes into the party and began the ideological transformation that would culminate with the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932.
Stoller goes on to translate what forms a repeat of the Democratic rebound of that bygone era could look like, today. Please read the article.
Unfortunately, Stoller concludes by saying he doesn’t think any of his rebound scenarios are going to happen. Ah, but that is why MyFDL pays metamars the big bucks – to fill in the gaps that even the giants can’t fill!! (Just kidding. No pay for metamars.) To see how metamars would fill in the gaps that even Stoller can’t fill, read on, gentle reader, read on!
As an extra bonus, metamars will repost a recent comment of his, which is about what Dem-leaning voters can do (via electoral threats), to force the hand of Dem leaders. If the Dem leaders dump Obama, then my suggestion 1) will not be carried out, and the voting bloc can vote for the Dem candidate.
I respectfully differ. I believe that if you want to “make Obama do it”, as this point, you need to become very electorally aggressive. Even then, failure is likely, but that’s just a reason for making sure that “making Obama do it” is done with a view towards education and organizing. Not looking to build something long-lasting is a recipe for long-term failure.
As for what “very electorally aggressive” would constitute, three things come readily to mind:
1) credibly politically threaten to vote for his Republican challenger. This would mean a web site with names, brief voting history, maybe town and state, and a brief memo as to what prompted such a punishing vote, by the voters intending to do so.
2) credibly politically threatening to vote for Republican challengers in, say, up to 5-10% of Dem incumbent seats (total), where you pick your 5-10% from Dems who go along with Obama.
3) aggressively educating the public about Obama’s shenanigans (e.g., distributing Hugh’s Obama Scandal List, starting with the black demographic (Obama’s strongest demographic supporters, by far). If this is done, it may make sense to modify 1) to just not voting for Obama, as black voters may interpret 1) and 3) together as a trick to elect a Republican.
Commiserating on a progressive blog will accomplish almost nothing in the real world.
If progressives hadn’t been such wimps and so disorganized, they might have “made Obama do it” earlier on in his Presidency, with less aggressive means. At this point, the cancer has spread.
UPDATE: Apishapa said, “I do not believe many here are able really credibly scare Obama, because you will not follow through. ” To cut down on the bluffing factor, the Dump Obama website would have added to it a followup field, such that each person could check in after election day, and verify that they did, indeed, follow through. I think I’ve recommended that, in the past. I clearly remember recommending throwing a street party, of sorts, where voting bloc members who voted against the incumbent that they were ‘supposed’ to vote for, publicly celebrated the fact that they had followed through on their electoral threat. You definitely want to throw a monkeywrench into the inevitable Republican spin that would mischaracterize progressives’ motives for dishing out a punishing vote.
The main reason I recommend only throwing 5-10% of Dem Congressional incumbents under the bus in any given election (and not 30%-60%, e.g.) is because you want your voting bloc to cohere, and grow, from election cycle to election cycle. If it’s too aggressive, you will not get enough buy-in from voters, from the get-go. Also, while at a site like MyFDL, there’s a good dollop of terminally disaffected ex-Democrats, that doesn’t mean the real world (i.e., non-blogosphere) is like that. Also, if it’s too aggressive, you’re more likely to have a bigger wimp-out factor, of people who will not follow through.
If there’s good success during the initial contrarian, dump Dem election cycles, the participating voting blocs can gradually ratchet up their % target, e.g. to 12.5%, then 15%, then 17.5%, then 20%. By the time your voting bloc is able to credibly threaten 20% of Dem incumbents, it will have put the fear of God into most of the rest. That is why, IMO, you don’t really need to dump the Dem Party, en toto, no matter how disgusted you are with them. With enough citizen influence and control, you force the Dems that haven’t been relieved of their Congressional duties into a more responsive mode of operation. The main reason I support the permanent development of viable 3rd parties is to have a stick to be able to whack both the Dem and Repub parties with, when they obstruct things too much through their respective ballot pathways. But, I believe the evolution of mature voting blocs will make it obvious that citizen’s vote bloc affiliation, and their bloc’s strategies and aggressiveness, are what will matter, not political party.
See reinventingdemocracy.us, and discussions re voting blocs between myself and Nancy Bordier, e.g., at OpenLeft.com