Some call you the elite. I call you my base.”
George W. Bush, October 19, 2000
I’ve been thinking about this post for quite some time. How can I further explain why Barack Obama is not getting my vote? I have tried in various different ways; using plays, lists of ways in which Obama has not kept his promises, and even a petition to show my reasoning. Yet some thoughtful Obama supporters still do not understand where I’m coming from.
I don’t blame them. Sometimes, I can’t believe it myself! After all, everyone who knows me (or reads my blog) knows that a few months ago, I was yelling louder than anyone that ANY Democrat would be better than a Republican in 2009.
Then I realized: I am a PUMA because I don’t have faith in the Democratic brand anymore.
All my life, I have voted Democratic when I could. Fiercely partisan and proud of it, only one time did I cast a vote for a Republic, and that was when I allowed myself to be a single-issue voter. (I’ll never make that mistake again.) I believed wholeheartedly in the idea that the Democrats were inherently better than the Republics. Why? Because the Democrats cared about the working class. The Democrats wanted a social safety net and equal opportunity for all. Every enlightened advance made in our society in the last 60 years was forced through by Democrats. And face it – what Democrat would ever say the words I quote above? Embarrassing. Anathema!
Then, along came Barack Obama.
Elitist? You bet. Courting the rightiest right-wingers in our society? Much more than he’s courting liberals! And as for the Democratic base? Who needs ‘em? They’re just racist Republicans, anyway. And as for his policy positions? I don’t trust one word he says.
The only way a politician like Obama can brand himself a Democrat is that the Democratic brand is in desperate trouble. There are two reasons for this: the actions of the VRWC (the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, which did and does exist), and the actions of current Democratic Party leadership.
First, the enemy without.
When Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, the New Conservative Republicans knew that in two years, they would sweep Congress. Their plans to infiltrate the media via teevee and radio punditry, and to take over the local parties at the grassroots level, had gone swimmingly. Now, only those in lockstep with the radical rightwing agenda – mostly social and anti-government in nature – would be able to advance to national office. And thus it came to pass in 1994 that Gingrich’s Congress took power.
As we know, they immediately began investigating the new Democratic President. But what their media wing did is a lesser-known fact: They immediately began divorcing the Clintons from the Democratic brand.
Despite the avalanche of progressive reforms that Clinton attempted from 1992-1994 while he had a somewhat supportive Congress (and many of which, like AmeriCorps, became incredibly successful), the impression began to be created that Bill and Hillary Clinton were not REALLY Democrats. Smears about their characters and “true intentions” began to be published in every newspaper. Sure, they may try to fix health care, but their “true intentions” were to screw the little guy. The term “slick Willy” was affixed to President Clinton with Crazy Glue. Bill was a liar and a cheat. Hillary was cold, calculating, ambitious and gay. They were possibly even murderers (Vince Foster). (For factual backup of all of these occurrences, I highly recommend, once again, David Brock’s amazing book, “Blinded by the Right.”)
How could these people be Democrats? They couldn’t. And neither could their supporters.
Thus, despite Bill’s job approval rating being extremely high when he left office, Democrats were successfully induced to feel that there was something wrong with Bill and Hillary on a personal level. Something unsavory, undesirable, and…Republican.
Fast-forward to 2007, when Barack Obama, the candidate backed by the current Democratic Party Leaders, began his own campaign against Hillary Clinton. Guess what his line of attack was? Her “character” and “judgment.” Ring any bells for ya? He and his surrogates even tried to get the media to focus on the Republics’ greatest hits of the 1990’s, although Hillary put the smackdown on that pretty quickly when Howard Wolfson likened Obama to Ken Starr. And of course, there were the Big “Progressive” Bloggers, who always hated the Clintons, and who were more than happy to allow the most outrageous lies to be propagated as truth in their worlds. (Remember how Hillary “darkened” Obama’s face on a videotape? Or how she was spreading the photo of Obama in Muslim garb – “sourced” by the oh-so-reliable Matt Drudge?)
What’s amazing is that this double-pronged strategy, so successful with Bill Clinton, did not work on Hillary Clinton. Despite taking years of hits from Republicans AND Democrats, she became the first woman to win a national primary, then smashed all records by garnering 18 million popular votes. And as for winning the Democratic base? The more they saw her, the more they realized that the rightwing spin on her was a bunch of hooey. They came out for her in droves – months AFTER she had been pronounced dead by the National Party and the media.
It is my belief that the Clintons, especially Hillary, represent the true face of the Democratic Party, and not the current Party elites and their favored candidate, Barack Obama. That the Democratic brand is now like toothpaste that’s been contaminated by antifreeze – bad for you, and sold-out to the highest bidder. That the only way to save the brand is by distilling out the poison of corruption and elitism, and to get it down to its purest elements – FDR-style populism and emphasis on the working class instead of the rich.
There is no way, no WAY that Barack Obama can do what is necessary to save the brand. He is clearly not inclined to do so, having zero record of any actions backing up his sometimes-liberal rhetoric, and neither are his supporters. They are only interested in creating a Party that more closely reflects their own image of themselves as Teh Kewl Kids Who Drink The Right Kind of Beer and Ousted Those Despicable Clintons. The fact that Obama’s nomination is being made possible only with the most obvious and corrupt Party intervention matters not one whit to them.
What I see now is a choice between two parties that represent the rich, do not care about the will of the voters, and look down on people who need the government’s help to equalize their opportunities.
Now I ask you, why would a representative of either of such parties get my vote – unless it is Hillary Clinton, who has a record of standing for, and delivering on, true Democratic principles?
There is a movement to send torn-up Democratic voter registration cards to the DNC today, with a note that the former Democrat is becoming an Independent. I myself have not taken this step, since I am still hoping that the Party can come to its senses and nominate Hillary at the Convention. But should the DNC and Party leaders persist in nominating Barack Obama despite the will of the people, despite his weakness as a candidate, and despite the fact that he has demonstrated no allegiance whatsoever to core Democratic Party principles, then the brand truly will be dead.
And I will no longer be a Democrat.