Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Coalition Fail

Phonebanking for Martha Coakley has been perhaps the most frustrating and heartbreaking experience of my life. I’ve come to the conclusion, based on this experience, Massachusetts will soon have a Republican senator.

The most striking thing was the complete apathy about the election from younger voters and minorities, both of whom still overwhelmingly approve of President Obama and his policies, and both of whom are barely registering among likely voters in the upcoming Senate election in Mass. Why aren’t they rushing to the polls to keep Ted Kennedy’s seat blue and why aren’t rushing to the polls to protect the agenda they claim to support?

I’m coming to the conclusion that the Obama coalition of young voters and minorities was not a sustainable coalition and Democrats are going to see some bad effects of that coalition staying home now and in November.

I don’t agree with the Jane fucking Hamsher gang that Democrats “not standing up for Democratic values” is the reason for this. Ask any minority or member of my generation and they will likely tell you they think the banks have been nationalized and universal healthcare is coming! Why aren’t they turning out?

I can’t answer that question clearly. I get the sense that maybe Obama was a fad that faded after his election. Kids moved on to something else, minorities went back to not voting. Trying to get my friends in Massachusetts to move on this election has been like herding cats. When pushed on the importance of the election, a few of my friends just shrugged it off. I mentioned a good, loyal Democratic friend of mine in Malden that Ted Kennedy’s seat may go Republican and he laughed and said “oh well, that sucks.” My friend Kim from Tewksbury changed the subject to tell me about her new shoes.

This coalition, of young and minority voters, gave us Obama, but they cannot be counted on to hold up our Democratic majority. They are the ones who most support the Democratic agenda, the progressive agenda, but they won’t show up to vote to sustain it. How are we going to keep change going when the only people showing up at the polls are those who desire the status quo?

The only thing that kept me sane tonight was thinking that once the supermajority is gone and Obama needs Republican votes again, people like Jane fucking Hamsher will lose whatever influence they have and go into marginalization, and after promoting not voting in Massachusetts and the shit she pulled in Arkansas, I can’t wait to see her ass marganialized.  


  1. Obama and a presidential election following the vastly unpopular Bush motivated all sorts of people to get more involved.  There is no such rallying-point now for the Left, while the Right has a momentum of consternation of their own.

    The Coakley approach, from what I have gathered, has been a Doomsday Plan.  Did she really say there was no point in going out to meet strangers?


    American voters say 63 – 25 percent that the government’s anti-terror policies lean too far toward protecting civil rights rather than national security and by 84 – 13 percent back greater use of airport body scanners opposed by privacy advocates because the machines scan a person’s body through their clothing, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

    Support for the war in Afghanistan is up, at 59 – 35 percent, compared to 51 – 41 percent in a December 23 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. But voters disagree with President Obama’s plan to try suspected terrorists in civilian courts, saying 59 – 34 percent they should be tried in military courts. Voters approve 48 – 44 percent of Obama’s handling of terror.

    Public support for health care reform continues to decline, as 34 percent mostly approve, while 54 percent mostly disapprove, compared to 53 – 36 percent disapproval December 22.

    While 44 percent think the proposed health care changes “go too far,” 29 percent say they do not go “far enough” and 17 percent think the health care changes are “about right.” The “not far enough” and “about right” total 46 percent. For the first time, voters trust congressional Republicans as much as President Obama on health care, 42 – 41 percent, compared to a 45 – 40 percent Obama edge December 22. Obama’s “trust” margin July 1 was 53 – 33 percent.

    “Support for President Barack Obama’s health care reform continues to decline marginally and now only about one in three voters say they mostly approve of the pending legislation. Opposition seems mostly driven by those who think the plan under consideration is too ambitious. The whole health care issue showcases the Grand Canyon-like divide opened up among the electorate,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

    “Consider this disparity; 68 percent of Democrats say they back the pending legislation, compared to 9 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of independents,” Brown added.

    Voters say 52 – 44 percent that law enforcement should be able to single out people who look Middle-Eastern for screening and questions, and by 79 – 16 percent they back the recent decision to subject air travelers from 14 designated countries – most of them nations with large Muslim populations – to extra screening.

    “The failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up a flight into Detroit has the American people security conscious. They are more supportive of the Afghan war; they think the government is worrying too much about civil liberties and not enough about security, and they overwhelmingly favor the use of body scanners on air travelers. Apparently, personal safety overrides concerns about modesty,” said Brown. “In addition voters don’t want Guantanamo closed; they don’t want terrorists tried in civilian courts and they back singling out those who look Middle Eastern or travelers from some heavily Muslim nations for extra scrutiny.”

    On the question about whether the government was leaning too far toward civil liberties or national security in its policies, there was relatively small difference by political party: 72 percent of Republicans, 57 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independent voters say government hasn’t done enough to safeguard the country.

    Yet on questions that involve decisions made by the Obama administration, the partisan split was much more noticeable. Only 12 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of independents want Guantanamo closed compared to 51 percent of Democrats. Similarly, 20 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of independents want terrorists tried in civilian courts, compared to 50 percent of Democrats.

  3. …when asked if the French Revolution had worked said…

    It’s a bit early to tell

    It’s a year after Obama’s inauguration. We’ve since been suffering the after effects of the biggest recession since the 30s. Will there be protest votes, apathy, anger and despair?

    You betcha.

    Does this change the fundamentals of your president and your country.

    I don’t think so.

    Remember Iowa. I followed Obama since 2004, and his convention speech. A friend of mine started working at his senate office in 2006. Even then, he was gathering the brightest and the best around him. Very little has changed.

    Very little has changed since 2008. Remember how impossible his candidacy seemed a few months before. He was doomed, in third or fourth place. And then those surges of victory, the delegates, and five months of PA, TX, WV and ‘the American people won’t accept him’. And then there was the math.

    The Math of the Senate isn’t great now. But the realities of a real Republican challenger soon are also dim. This is another dark time, where hope seems thin on the ground. The administration seems characterised by errors, and enemies loom on the left and right.

    But events will take charge. That’s right. Just as events rescued George W’s failing presidency (the highest ratings at this point in the cycle) events will turn around this presidency. I’m convinced of it. Why?

    Because you make your luck. Bush capitalised on fear and a terror attack. Whatever event ends up defining Obama’s presidency, it won’t be one of those. It will be something new. And just as in those long months slugging through the snows of Iowa… or those even longer months calculating superdelegate approvals… you’ve got some of the ablest, smartest people running the country. Whatever their constituencies feel, they will be in the place to make decisions. They will make the luck change in their favour.

    I’ll wager a round of drinks that, in two years time, we’ll be looking at approval ratings and saying; “Where did it all go right.” Come 2012, the Dems will regain any senate seats they lose, and have a filibustering majority there.

    Why not? My rosy scenario is as packed with rational project as is your picture of doom. We make the future happen. And forces are in place that favour optimism, no matter how dark it seems now.

    Keep the faith, bro.  

  4. HappyinVT

    this election for granted.  It’s Teddy’s seat for God’s sake.  How could a Republican pick it up.  Maybe the prez can light a fire on Sunday.

    Just one more thing on his to-do list.

    • Kysen

      but last night on…ummmmm…maybe the Chris Matthews Show….someone said that her campaign was run so poorly that it made Creigh Deeds Campaign look like the Obama Campaign. Ouch!

      I think that the Independent with the last name of Kennedy (who apparently has Teabagger tendencies) might prove to be the wild card. He will not win by any stretch of the imagination…but, his last name may get a lot of votes just out of habit, and some Teabagger sorts whose votes would help Brown will likely go to him instead.

      It all comes down to GOTV at this point.

  5. Charles Lemos

    that a working class party has to address working class issues. That’s why a Democratic candidate has to win a swing states like West Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The Democratic base is those who earn under $75,000 but apart from poor blacks who voted for Obama quite naturally because he was one of their own, Obama didn’t really recreate the old FDR/LBJ coalition. Obama did win every income group in the election but he barely split the $50K to $75 that’s largest income segment (21% of the electorate).

    !’m coming to the conclusion that the Obama coalition of young voters and minorities was not a sustainable coalition and Democrats are going to see some bad effects of that coalition staying home now and in November.

    It is not a sustainable coalition. To be fair to Obama, his nomination winning coalition was composed blacks (he won 90% of them from South Carolina on), the under 30 crowd (75% of those) and white liberals who earned over $75,000 (doing especially well among those who earn more than $250K).

    Moreover the problem really is that it was an Obama coalition and not a Democratic one. Back during the primaries the argument was “well he’s bringing all these new voters into the party.” But young voters, because that’s who made up the lion’s share of new voters that he brought in, are notoriously fickle and Obama has failed to really make Democrats out of them.

    You know perhaps the most important speech in some ways during the primaries was a speech given by Michelle Obama at UCLA just before the CA primary. It was very partisan speech and really I think the most visionary speech I heard from the Obama campaign. Her argument was that Barack Obama was not going to let the country rest, he was going to challenge the country to get involved.

    Michelle’s vision just hasn’t occurred and it is going to cost us. That’s what needed to happen but a month after the election, people went back to their lives. A true revolution requires a change in values. That’s why there is such a thing as a Reagan Revolution. Values did change. I just don’t see this happening under Obama as yet. I haven’t seen him lay out a vision where he wants to take the country.

    One thing that impressed me about Obama is that in 2007 I dismissed him as an empty suit. But he really did grow and mature over the campaign. His answers became more nuanced. He went from someone who wanted to talk to Iran w/o preconditions to setting a framework for engagement. In short, he is a quick study and learns from his mistakes. So that’s the hope. The problem seems to be that he is really a centrist and always seems to want to cut a deal down the middle. Again, I think he’d get more mileage if he were true to his own convictions rather than try to play Gandhi and bring two sides together.  Much of the GOP is based on emotive politics. It’s a religion. They have this faith in free markets that belies the facts. Politics is really about acting on empirical observations. There may be a time for cutting taxes. That time is clearly not now.

    Anther point: the US electorate has short memories. A year of modest achievements is somehow trumped by a decade (really 3 decades) of conservative failure. So voters are looking at the past year seeing a hell of a mess, they blame Obama but overlook the mess he inherited. This is a 30 year crisis in the making. It is the result of a broken (but not failed) economic model.

    The past two weeks my thoughts have been this: Let the GOP return to power. Let the GOP fail at government again. They will double down on stupid and destroy the country again on their watch. Only when such failure (and unfettered unregulated free markets always fail) is clearly demarcated in such a way that the electorate (who ain’t exactly the sharpest tools in the shed witness Sarah Palin) can finally comprehend that what happened in 1929 and 2008 didn’t happen by accident but by design only then will they punish the conservatism at the polls. At this point, only complete failure will destroy conservative ideology once and for all. Even so, the creed of limited government in the US is akin to  religious belief among some so we may never actually banish them from this Earth.

    Of course, the problem with that is who wants to live through a complete economic collapse. But the GOP if it comes back to power, they will destroy the country. A tax cut now and we’re done. We’re a Weimar Republic in the making.

    I honestly believe that we are headed for collapse. Government is broken, the Senate is 18th century institution and so is the Electoral College. Our system of govt overemphasizes rural and conservative interests. The tension that is creating is ever greater. The country may not hold and I don’t necessarily think that is a bad idea.

    As per the folks at FDL, I’ll say this. They seem to think that progressives are a majority. We’re not. The US remains a very deeply conservative country (just look at church attendance, it’s the third highest in the west after Poland and Ireland and then look at which denominations are growing). The other thing is that progressives don’t run for office in sufficient numbers. We need to replicate what the religious right started doing in the 1970s and that is run for school boards and local councils.

    I don’t believe that the ends justify the means. Jane Hamsher apparently does. In her zeal to derail an imperfect healthcare bill, she is willing to kill everything else including the Democratic party. She must think she is a Phoenix.

    Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft is another one. Also came out against Coakley.

    I’ll share this: Bernie Sanders told me last February that one of the problems that he has with progressives is that they can’t see the forest from the trees. They get so wrapped up in single focus issues that if a politician does toe their line on that one issue they discount everything else. It’s a murder-suicide pact really.

  6. DTOzone

    this made me want to cry and bang my heas against the wall at the same time

       I was a very early supporter of Obama. I was living in New Hampshire two years ago. I signed up to go door-to-door to talk to people about his candidacy and in contrast to Hilary. I trudged through feet of snow in the week before the primary. I entered homes and had great discussions with my fellow residents. I went to Claremont, NH and shook Obama’s hand. I rallied the night before the primary in Concord. He lost the state but I knew we were on the right side of history.

       I’m with you in thinking that Obama is the best thing the Democrats have going for them right now. But I also think that in having the supermajority, they actually undercut him. They don’t have to compromise and so they don’t try to. Instead, what passes as legislation is a horrid mismash of corporate interests and traditional, not progressive, balms of the Democratic Party. I know this country can do much, much better. And I think Obama needs a less powerful Democratic party to make it happen, like Clinton did.

       For all the reasons you cite about Coakley, I’m voting for Brown. But let me add a few more.

       I’m a split-the-ballot kind of guy. I don’t think the dominance of the political system by one party is ever good for the country. Too much changes too quickly and without the necessary compromises to slow the pace and make it more realistic. We all agree that the GOP is a mess. But we also all agree that we need a stronger GOP. And despite the rhetoric, I can’t think of a better candidate to help than Scott Brown. He’s not perfect, but if he thinks he can go along with the national GOP and keep the seat in the next election, he’s going to be out of a job. In voting for him, I hope he’ll moderate that party. And that’s what’s funny to me about the rush of support he’s getting from the Right. If a Republican from Massachusetts isn’t a RINO to them, I don’t know who is. It also helps that Brown has already voted for a health care plan with a public option. So to someone like Malkin who was ready to toss away a Congressional seat in NY for “purity”, I now laugh at their support of Brown

       My only hesitation in voting for Brown is how that vote will be spun by the mediots in the Beltway. Let me say emphatically that my vote for Brown isn’t a vote against Obama. It’s a vote against the Democratic Party, and hacks like Coakley, but also a vote to help moderate the GOP. One more New England Republican is necessary. Of all the places the GOP might find it’s path again I hope it’s from where it was born.


  7. nrafter530

    btw, hi, miss ya guys. Haven’t been around in a while

    I just can’t believe this, how did it get so bad over there that Ted Kennedy’s seat is in jeopardy?

    This reminds me of what happened here in Italy two years ago. In 2006, Berlusconi was ousted from power by a broad coalition of centrist and left wing parties led by Romano Prodi, but their election was very narrow and represented more of a repudiation of Berlusconi by the centrists rather than a mandate for their agenda.

    After about a year, little over a year, Prodi had a difficult time passing legislation, one particular one was a labor law that even I considered a little too radical, favored by the neocommunist parties on the left. At the same time, the social liberals pushed for a domestic partnership law that was opposed by the centrist parties. The centrists them rallied around Clemente Mastella, the Justice Minister, who was being investigated for corruption…Italian centrists developed a conspiracy theory…that he was being scapegoated by leftists for opposing the labor and LGBT rights laws, as the centrists had th ear of the Vatican. Eventually Prodi sided with the leftists, naively believing the country would side with the lefitists and it would be the centrists who paid the price.

    Mastella’s party left the coalition and Prodi’s government fell in a vote of no confidence. When elections were held a few months later, not only did Berlusconi regain power, but the Centre-Left, who caused the whole fracas to begin with, GAINED seats, while the far left parties were wiped out, losing all 110 seats. It was a bloodbath for the left, and not even the entire left coalition, just the left of the left. Imagine, if you will, Democrats lose control of the House, but add Blue Dogs while the entire CPC is wiped out…that’s what happened.

    So what of leftists today? They’re dissolutioned, demoralized and devestated. They were killed in a regional election in Sardina a few weeks later. The left took a hit again in this year’s European Union elections and a referendum held in June on electoral reform say am abysmal turnout number. Here, refrendums are not considered valid, no matter the outcome, unless there’s a 50% or more turnout rate. Imagine what that would’ve meant for Prop 8, geez.

    There are still some who think the left was wiped out because the Prodi coalition wasn’t liberal enough, we call them Il Lunatici

    It’s someone satisfying to know Berlusconi is having a hard time getting shit passed because the centrists are targetting him too, but the left doesn’t have much change of even becoming remotely relevant in Italian politics anytime soon.

    I can’t help but look at what’s happening in Massachusetts and think “65% of Independents voting Republican?” This is the “centrists” giving a vote of non confidence to an already centrist government? These people are not centrists. I don’t care what the fuckers on OpenLeft or Firedoglake say, America is a real right wing country.  

  8. creamer

     Maybe this was too much for a country in two wars and a failing economy. It seems the polls show a less than enthusiastic response to HCR. Maybe the process poisoned it. Watching the process play out in the Senate reminded americans how messy and ugly our democracy is. Granstanding senators from small states with big pharma and insurance industrys didn’t help. I live in a district  that is painfully consevative, so somtimes its hard to get a handle on what working people are really thinking. But it would really seem that for those who are not political junkies the process was a clusterf***.

      If we lose Massachusetts, maybe its time to let the GOP defeat healthcare. Make them stand up in the Senate and vote to withhold insurance from millions of Americans. Then spend the next 6 months on jobs bills and hope the unemployment numbers come down. AT that point maybe you can retool a more moderate scaled down Health Care policy.

    • DTOzone

      but they don’t need to be, they create enough of a fevor that even the most formally rational Republicans like Illeana Ros-Lethinen, Mark Kirk, Olympia Snowe, Richard Lugar, and Mary Bono Mack are all so fearful of the climate they created in their parties that they have become irrational themselves.

      In that way, Beck and Limbaugh control the party. What elected Republican do you see standing up to their crazy? Not one.

      NY-23 decided who runs the Republican party. If the party was run by Michael Steele, John Boehner, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Dede Scozzafava would be in Congress right now, but the party is run by Beck, Limbaugh and Palin, and that’s why she’s not.  

  9. From ABC News

    Boston-area TV station WBZ reports voter turnout “appears high” in the Massachusetts special election today. High turnout could be good news for Democrats, who vastly outnumber Republicans in the state. But increased turnout in the right areas could also be good news for Republicans, who are fired up about Scott Brown’s (R) chances to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate.

    Massachusetts Secretary of State Scott Galvin told WBZ “he expects about 40-percent of voters to turn out” today, roughly double the number that voted in the primaries in December.

    Late Update: The Boston Globe reports that “more than 23,000 ballots” had been cast in Boston as of 9 a.m., a “night and day” difference from the primaries. Turnout appears high in liberal precincts, with “roughly the entire turnout for the primary” casting ballots by 11 a.m. in the Democratic stronghold of Jamaica Plan in Boston.

    Later Update: On MSNBC this afternoon, Boston Herald columnist Mike Barnicle shared reports of “long lines” at suburban polling places in Massachusetts today. He said that news is more likely than not a sign that Brown’s voters are turning out in big numbers.

  10. Cheryl Kopec

    The seat is lost. Okay, I have two questions here, and maybe my wonky fellow Moosers can help me with them.

    First, why did the Dems put her up in the first place? A caller to the Ed Schultz radio show today asked why they didn’t put up the next-in-line Kennedy, who has already held legislative office (and I don’t recall his name, sorry, and I was in the car driving so didn’t write it down). That might have been a winner. Coakley just had too many strikes against her (the hot curling iron baby rapist scandal for one, which even gives ME the creeps, and probably hampered my phone efforts — I only made 25 calls instead of the requested 50, and that was while holding my nose).

    Second, could this possibly be an opportunity to completely switch course and pass a bill containing a public option through reconciliation? All we need is one solid victory to get Americans behind progressive causes and candidates.

    I did like this line from Coakley’s concession speech: “Sometimes it’s more important to travel hopefully than to arrive.”

    • They don’t want a viable Republican party, they want a Purity Conservative party.  Which is as likely to happen as a Pure Left Hamster Wheel party taking power.

      I, for one, am fascinated to see how this works out.  I think that the Dems remain ascendant for many years to come while the flankle-biters on both wings swirl around in annoying hordes.  The details of how the more moderate core of the Dems and the GOP handle their rabid outliers should determine who is more successful electorally, and the Dems are in much better shape than the GOP to execute rationally.  The GOP is actually being driven by their extreme wing, while the Dems are only being hounded by their own.

      • Shaun Appleby

        I was probably more carefree when I walked through the front door of the family home feeling a sense of security without an understanding of mortgages and proterty taxes.  But having said that a worried look on my father’s face at the end of the month was probably more disconcerting than it would be if I was able to quantify his dilemma as I would now as an adult.

        It seems to me that a life which enhances one’s awareness of the world in which one lives is a productive life, and it provides a foundation from which to act.  My feeling of delight in being able to understand, however imperfectly, the sweep of history from classical times to the present day is a lifelong treasure which is only now coming to maturity.  It enables me to feel grounded in some kind of reality as I stand here today.  It strikes me that much common ‘ignorance’ is wilfull along the lines of the contract you were considering but in the long run it seems a bad bargin.

        It’s bad enough being frustrated, and yes, angry, at the apparent oppressive ignorance of others from my own narrow point of view without envying them for it.

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