Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The sullen left

I recently had an infuriating discussion with members of the professional left that left me confused and depressed. Basically, their argument was, Obama is a failed president whose policies are no better than the last inhabitant of the White House.

As I said to someone after that conversation, "This is why we lose."

I don't usually turn to Tony Blair for insight on the American political scene, but, via Jon Chait, here you go.

Some insightful commentary on this poisonous dynamic was provided by Tony Blair:

Ironically, Blair says, activists on the left often assist their right-wing opponents by piling on the pols who lean their way rather than defending them against a conservative onslaught that he says is "vicious" and begins from "the word 'go.'" Blair says the politics of the day can leave ostensibly left-leaning leaders like President Obama "in an isolated position," with right-wing opponents eager to destroy them and the activist left (more often than not) happy to help.
"I love my own politics and progressives and all the rest of it," Blair told ABC's Christiane Amanpour in an unaired portion of his This Week interview from Sunday. "But if we have a weakness as a class, when the right get after us and attack our progressive leaders, instead of defending them we tend to say, 'Yeah, well, really we've got a lot of complaints about them, too.'"
Blair said that the tendency of the left to pile on rather than defend its own leaders can leave their politicians alone to face the right wing attack machine, which Blair says is merciless.

As I've stated many times, the overwhelming cause of the Democrats' perils is that they held overstretched majorities while taking control of government at the outset of a massive economic crisis. But the inability of the left to handle majority status is an important contributor to the dilemma. It's not surprising that Democrats would lose independent voters, or that Republicans would be wildly enthusiastic, when they control the government and push agressive reforms during an economic calamity. But they sheer sullenness of the liberal base does seem to be avoidable and puzzling.

I don't want to imply that liberals should reside in a criticism-free zone, but the vehemence of their criticism has no match on the right when Republicans hold the majority. It's a major reason why Republicans have generally held the majority since 1980.

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