A Little Help from my Friends

Posted on October 16, 2010 by

Though I’m committed to keeping my mouth shut until the votes are in on November 2, I can’t hold back all my frustration and disappointment.

Of course I endorse the notion that, as democrats, this is the time to close ranks to reduce the damage.

So I’ve been asking my friends to help me tolerate the next few weeks.

There is hope, I’m told, that we’ll hold onto slim majorities in both houses.  That would be a relief I suppose.

But if not, some friends reassure me, the “crazies” will be exposed.

This doesn’t comfort me at all.

You see, I have a very pragmatic view of politics.  Basically, I just keep score.

In 2009, as my more ideological peers became increasingly upset – livid - with this white house and congressional democrats, I counseled patience.

I started to flip a year ago when republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts won the U.S. Senate seat.  While I could put up with Obama not being “progressive” enough, I couldn’t approve of a governing style in which compromise erodes – rather than builds – consensus.

But I’ll stop there.  That’s just enough to let me vent and keep my promise.

I’ve spent my political life deferring to what’s possible in America.  When I was 17, I wore a “McCarthy Supporters for Humphrey” button (I wish I had saved that).  Eight years later I dropped out of a graduate program in psychology to work on the Carter campaign (an interesting turn in the road).  Working in the labor movement in 1992, I watched Bill Clinton win office with democratic congressional majorities.   Then, two years later…

For my fellow travelers, 2010 isn’t easy to swallow.  But hang in there.  We’ll have a lot to talk about on November 3.

Comments (7)


  1. Greg says:

    If the elections go like the Tea Baggers and Ultra Conservatives expect, will we be allowed to talk at all?

  2. While I can’t speak for the organization I represent and these comments don’t represent more than my humble opinion, I believe that what is needed is an electoral front. This concept would include the Democratic Party, but would not be exclusively the Democratic Party. This would include everyone on the “left” that want to participate. This “frente” concept has worked in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ecuador,Paraguay, and for a while in Honduras. The Democratic Party needs to work in coalition with the Greens, Peace & Freedom Party, Worker’s World Party, CPUSA, and organizations like the AFL-CIO, United for Peace & Justice, ANSWER, Labor Against the War, etc. A big electoral front! Bigger than the Tea Party, with a working class agenda. A very simple program: Full employment. Green Jobs. Bring the troops home. End homelessness. Free education from K through university.
    Rebuild America’s infrastructure. Defense of Social Services and Social Security and Medicare. campaign finance reform. Support politicians that support this program. This would be the basis for a new electoral front: America United: On the ballot in as many states as possible. An on-going political project, uniting as many forces as possible around a people’s agenda. We could call this front “America United” or “One America” or something similar. The point is that the democratic cannot do it along anymore. we need to unite as many forces as possible to keep from returning to the politics of the past. The devil is in the details, but with all of the consultants and movers and shakers, it can be done with the leadership of the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party.

    When I was a kid in 1968, Humphrey wasn’t even on the radar. The contest was between the forces of Gene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy. The “progressive ” forces were divided and the reactionary pro-war forces won the Democratic primary. Then, turning history on its head, Nixon became the “peace” candidate. remember “peace with honor?” determined to be tough on communism, Nixon dropped more bombs than had ever been dropped in the history of the world. Incredible weapons were developed while our cities were left in decay. If we had had an electoral front and the democratic forces had been united, we would have had a different outcome. Since that time, I have been a big believer in unity campaigns. They work. People unite around issues and programs that produce tangible results. What do you think about that?

  3. Steph B. says:

    Yes, I’m discouraged. I believe this country gets the administration it deserves pretty consistently. However, rarely does this country get the administration I want. Democrats have rarely pushed the boundaries forward from so-called middle American values, when every indication is that their supporters want them to. Republicans consistently defend the status quo, particularly when money is at stake. Witness the quadrupling of Chamber of Commerce money this election season into attack ads against (mainly) Democrats.
    What is wrong with cradle to grave health care?
    Nothing except that those who own it will lose. (money)
    What is wrong with employees acting in a collective manner to improve the terms and conditions of their employment?
    Nothing, except that the employer will make less money, and say they cannot compete.
    What is wrong with taxing American companies which send good paying American jobs overseas?
    Nothing, except that they’ll complain of of rising costs and that same “competitiveness” gambit.
    What is wrong with limiting credit card interest?
    Nothing, except that they say they can’t make money and people should be entitled to buy things they can’t afford now, so that credit card companys can collect interest for decades on a three thousand dollar debt.
    What is wrong with stopping the 40 year old War on drugs?
    Nothing, except someone on a drug company payroll will complain about making less money.
    What is wrong with creating and fully funding a Pre-k thru collge or vocational school education?
    Nothing, except that education is supposed to enable people to think, and with enough thinkers who have free education, and free health care, and no credit card debt, and can buy American and can obtain good paying jobs, well, all those thinkers just might laugh at the way we “used to do things” here in the good ol’ U.S.A.
    Elections are not about us, “We the People” and hasn’t been for years. It’s all about money. Steph B.

  4. Salvador Sanchez says:

    Those who think that the Dems will keep the house are either crazy or are totally divorced from reality…

  5. Boris G. says:

    I come from the world in which every wish expressed in the conmments was granted: free education from K to U (but you would lose your job or wind up in Gulag for dissenting from the established “truths”). My country had free health care from cradle to grave (but we wound up with the highest mortality rate among industrialized nations). It had free collective bargaining through the largest union system in the world (except that Unions represented no one but collected dues and party acolades) and while we had indirectly taxed people to the hilt the cuntry’s great industries could not feed, house or clad its population.
    The world I was born into crimninalized economic activity, banned individualism, punished initiative and eventually imploded. Do you know why? Because there has never been a subsstitute for individual responsibility. America is an exceptional place because when it thrived on individulaism. Liberal fascism (of one king or another) is doomed and we do not have to live through it again only because it promises to fulfill our wishes (but with a condition that we give up our freedom), I personally hope that November elections will be a watershed and we do not have to be co-erced again into a “bright future for all”.

  6. Aaron says:

    Hi Lou, I am a former student of the labor studies program and have always shared alot of your views and opinions about the past and current political status. I read an article about Obama in the most recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine and suggest everyone read it when you get a chance. In my opinion it really hit the nail on the head and calls out the white house for alot of broken promises (among other things) that were made during the 2008 campaign. However, it also points out the many accomplishments too.

    I think were giving in to right too much and need to take a step back and remember that Obama is a politician and has to make alot of compromises in order to secure certain victories (even if they don’t end up 100% what we want he is still doing it). Remember that Obama is a politician dealing with an inheritance of things he did not create but has to try and fix. Alot of people are expecting Obama to do this within 4-years (Only two left). This mess that was made more than a decade ago cannot be fixed in that amount of time and the right knows it and their trying to capitalize on it by pointing out the failures and were not highlighting the portions of the presidency that have been victorious for the people. For example the healthcare legislation, putting the predatory lenders at bay and holding them accountable, college loans, keeping over 1-million auto workers employed and the big 3 are still in buisness, the over 700 billion bailout has been reduced etc. Regulations are back (Maybe not where it should be but sure better than what it was).

    Anyway, keep up the blogs as it gets everyones juices flowing, stirs up conversation and keeps us all informed.

    Remember, there are more of the left then there are of the right. We proved that when Obama was elected. I just think people are bummed out over the economy not coming back to what it was before and it will take some time. Hopefully within the next two years so we can re-elect him.

    Have a great Week!

  7. Jann says:

    Thanks Lou,

    I needed to hear some of this positive and not so… The thought of more “crazy” horrible politicians in California deciding the fate of my family and I is super scary, so I’m doing my part by… 1) encouraging (forcing some) All my friends and family to vote, luckily many of them look to me to assist in reading their voter info and sample ballots and cracking the whip to get them to the poles. 2) I got up early Saturday morning in the drizzle with a 2 drink hangover and walked precincts for Jerry Brown.

    Get down with Jerry Brown 2010!

    Keep HOPE alive, President Obama needs soldiers on his side out there on the battlefield.

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