Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Progressive fantasy

It's days after the Election. President Obama is still President Obama and Citizen Romney is still Citizen Romney. But the analysis of the results, the whining and the smug trumpeting continues. Witness this piece by the editors of The Nation, a news site unabashedly progressive in orientation. Entitled A Progressive Surge, the article advances the idea that Obama's victory represents a rising tide of pro-progressive sentiment (i.e. more people ready to hand over more power to the government in exchange for less personal responsibility and the promise of a few treats):
This right-wing coalition was defeated at the polls by a “rising American electorate,” a coalition of women, African-Americans, Latinos, the young and unionized blue-collar workers in Midwestern battleground states. These voters not only provided Obama with his margin of victory but carried several stalwart progressives in high-profile Senate races to exhilarating wins...
It's an interesting thesis, but hardly supported by post-election data. As I've already detailed, turnout is down as compared to 2008. In fact, as a percentage of VAP, turnout is down compared to 2004 and quite possible 2000, as well. In the most progressive State in the Union--California--Obama tallied 5,871,106 votes in the 2012 Election. In the 2008 Election, he received 7,441,458 votes, over 1.5 million more than this year, the year of the "progressive surge."

The editors of The Nation also cite some specific races as evidence for this non-existent surge, like that in Florida between Alan Grayson and Todd Long:
Democrats would do well to take a cue from Grayson, who lost his seat by eighteen points in 2010 but stormed back in 2012 with a promise to serve as “a congressman who’s going to fight for full employment, a congressman who’s going to fight for universal healthcare, a congressman who will protect Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, a congressman who will fight for health benefits and paid sick leave and paid vacations and the things that we need to be decent human beings in our lives, a congressman who will fight for progressive taxation and make sure that even the filthy rich have to pay their fair share, a congressman who will fight for clean money and clean elections…. a congressman who will fight for justice, equality and peace.”
True enough, Grayson was creamed in 2010. And true enough, he easily won his race against Long in 2012. But here's the thing: it's not the same district as the one Grayson previously represented. In 2010, Grayson lost his seat--for Florida's 8th District--to Daniel Webster. After that election, there was the usual redistricting in Florida, which resulted in an open 9th District and a renumbered 10th District with Webster as the incumbent. Webster ran against Val Demings and defeated her by a margin of less than four points. A somewhat tight race, to be sure, but that was because Demings is a popular figure in the area--far more popular that Grayson--and cooler heads in the DNC realized she had a better chance of unseating Webster.

Thus, Grayson ran for the open 9th District against relatively unknown political newcomer Todd Long. And that was because Grayson went after Long's opponent in the Republican Primary, to insure he (Grayson) would face the weaker man. The RNC provided little support to Long; it knew he had little hope of success.  And given that the 9th District was purposefully drawn to be a primarily Democratic district, this is unsurprising.

So, Grayson didn't "storm back" on the strength of his positions, his platform, he did so via his--and the DNC's--Machiavellian approach to politics, nothing more. Yet the editors of The Nation ignorantly highlight this victory as proof of a progressive surge. And here I thought progressives were opposed to such political manipulations and dirty tricks. Or maybe it's somehow different when their side does it...

Cheers, all.

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