Friday, October 01, 2010

We aren't as blue as they thought we were

The President recently stated that it is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive to stand on the sidelines during this midterm election.

Presumably, when he states "Democrat or progressive" he means all the people who voted to put him and this congress in power.  The problem, though, is that those two groups are not, necessarily, the same.  And what we're finding out more and more is that those two groups--"Democrats and progressives" and "people who voted to put the President and Congress in power"--are not, at all, the same.  Sure, there's some overlap.  Without question.  But to steal the image of a Venn diagram, picture a very large circle that comprises a little more than half the electorate and a much smaller circle within that circle that comprises "Democrat or progressive".  I'm not sure how much smaller that circle is, but it's certainly smaller than the other.

 It would seem as if the powers that be got it in their head that those two circles are one in the same.  That there was some sort of vast, sudden, cultural shift where most of the country stood up and said "you know, all that stupid shit that Nancy Pelosi and the other leftist dems have been saying all this time isn't so stupid after all."  Turns out that wasn't the case at all.

The funniest thing is that this is the same mistake the conservative groups made a few years back.  They mistakenly believed that the small group of very conservative voters and the large group of centrist, moderate voters who actually voted to put them in office were one in the same.  They thought that if they boiled down their conservatism to more and more conservative ideals they would get better and better at what they do.  When, in fact, the opposite happened.  They became SO conservative that they managed to distance themselves from the vast middle of the country that actually voted to put them in office.  It took the Rs from 1994 to right about 2000 or 2002 to really, truly diverge from their right leaning moderate stances.  You know, right about the time they managed to get full control of the executive and legislative branches of the government.  They looked up and said, "hey, everyone must agree with us".  Then the vast middle watched them edge further and further to the right until the left looked closer.

Then, in 2006, the Rs lost control of the legislature.  And in 2008 the Ds, with the help of the vast middle, took over the executive.  And that's when they made the mistake of assuming that everyone agreed with them.

Guess what,

Everyone doesn't.

The vast, vast majority of those who are in the middle, who stood up and helped this President win either a primary or the general election or both, voted for a candidate who is remarkably different than the President we have today.  The candidate who was voted for said things like "there are no republican ideas or democrat ideas, only good ideas and bad ideas, and those ideas come from both parties", but the President we have says things like "only the democrats are offering good ideas while the republicans just obstruct".  The candidate was all about "us", the President is all about "us versus them".  The candidate was his own man.  This President is ruled by his party.

It's very likely that the "democrats and progressives" will not be standing on the sidelines this election term.  But it's also very likely that their numbers are far smaller than what was thought and this election, like so many others, will be decided by the vast middle and not some imagined cultural shift to the fringes of either the left or the right.

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