Biden Laments The “Lethargy” of Democratic Voters

Vice President Biden noted yesterday that he hoped that the Tea Party might finally get Democratic and liberal votes out of their “lethargy.” The comment struck a nerve with me since various Democratic leaders have expressed surprise and mild criticism over the lack of enthusiasm by Democratic voters. What is striking is the fact that Biden and others continue to consider their own failure to give voters a reason to become active after years of broken campaign promises and outright betrayals of core values. The best that they can come up with (yet again) is that the other people are worse than we are.

It is unclear why Biden thinks, for example, civil libertarians should be energized after the Obama Administration embraced and expanded Bush-era policies in the war on terror. President Obama has shielded Bush officials from any investigation, let alone prosecution, for torture and has fought to block any cases that would hold companies or agencies responsible for violations of human rights or privacy.

It is unclear why Biden thinks environmentalists should be energized after the Administration opened up pristine areas of the East Coast for oil exploration and, even after the BP disaster, downplayed the spill damage to lift the moratorium.

It is unclear why Biden thinks that peace advocates should be energized after the Administration continued both wars and the gushing of both American blood and treasure.

It is unclear why Biden thinks gay and lesbian activists should be energized after the Obama Administration fought in court to preserve Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and then appealed to limit the major victory enjoining DADT.

For over a decade, the Democratic Party has based its demands for political support not on its own performance but on the “lesser of two evils” argument. They simply cannot understand why voters would be less than enthusiastic in fighting for them to retain power. Indeed, from the very start of this Administration, the clear message to liberals has been “you have no where else to go.” What the Administration and congressional democrats did not consider is that liberals, civil libertarians, and environmentalists could decide to simply go no where and stay at home.

Biden was speaking(at a fundraiser in Chevy Chase, Md. when he noted that “[m[aybe the best thing to happen to us lately is the Tea Party wins. Maybe it’ll shake some of our constituency out of their lethargy.” Biden seems to welcome that there is finally a compelling reason for voters to take to the streets: even worse people are running for office.

How about another option? The Democratic leaders could actually fight on principle over things like torture and give voters a positive reason to care about their future. If you want voters to care, you can start by giving them something to care about — other than the job security of Democratic officeholders. If the Obama Administration did not actually jettison these issues for political convenience, it might not have been more popular, but it would have been more respected and it would have garnered far more enthusiasm from Democratic and liberal voters. Instead, the Democratic leadership has repeatedly conveyed that they are concerned only about retaining their offices and power at any cost — hardly a motivating message for votes.

So here is my suggestion for a new campaign motto: “Fighting Lethargy With Leadership.”

Source: The Hill

266 thoughts on “Biden Laments The “Lethargy” of Democratic Voters”

  1. “The system does not allow the vast majority of people to create and hold wealth.”

    Byron,
    You and I agree on this it’s just that you’ve got your reasoning for it wrong.

  2. Ron Johnson for Senate has a new television ad in opposition to Fiengold. In it he says and writes: Senate 100 senators, 57 lawyers, 0 from manufacturing and 1 from accounting. He says my background is in manufacturing and accounting. I know how to put people to work and I know haw (was it balance a budget or read a budget….?) No parties are mentioned at all in the new ad.

    All Feingold’s television ad does is emphasize his long Senate career. It doesn’t even mention his accomplishments and it says something about being independent of parties.

    Johnson’s ad leaves one with a visual print message memory of the breakdown in Congress. Feingold’s ad wastes its print message on photos of the pledges he wrote on his garage 20 years ago.

    It’s like the entire senate committee on the judiciary left nothing worth announcing….. Maybe I’ll try to read through their announcements looking for something good.

  3. Mike S:

    poverty is cured by wealth creation and nothing else. Contrary to Marx, Proudhon, Fourier, et. al.

    The system does not allow the vast majority of people to create and hold wealth. Reduce or eliminate the restrictions on wealth creation and you can eliminate poverty.

    Getting rid of the Federal Reserve and having a small flat tax would be good first steps.

    Allow the poor to earn as much as they can without restrictions to monthly benefits and allow them to keep every penny they earn, i.e. no SS, federal, state or local taxes taken out of their earnings. Allow them to invest that money tax free and not in IRA’s or 401k’s but in whatever investment vehicle they choose.

    Talk about the worker owning the means of production. 🙂

  4. Slarti,

    Here’s an excerpt from a post by Glenn Greenwald at salon.com. Is this what you were thinking about?

    *****

    WH messaging about its base

    By Glenn Greenwald (9/28/2010)
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/09/28/obama/index.html

    Excerpt:
    What’s going on here seems clear. Each time there is a Democratic loss on the horizon, White House officials find someone to blame other than Obama; that happened with Martha Coakley, Creigh Deeds, and a whole slew of other Democratic defeats. By incessantly complaining now about the “irresponsible” “whiners” who aren’t sufficiently grateful to the Obama White House, they seem to be setting up in advance a nice excuse for Democratic defeat in November: it wasn’t anything we did to cause this; it was the fault of those whiny, unrealistic irresponsible liberals who didn’t cheerlead loudly enough. What seems to matter most is that Obama be exonerated for the Democrats’ electoral woes, even though he clearly bears substantial responsibility for much of it.

    **********

    BTW,

    I live in Massachusetts. Take it from me–Martha Coakley was a TERRIBLE campaigner. I don’t blame her loss on Obama.

  5. The Democratic Party is controlled by the corporate oligarchy although not by the looniest fringe thereof, it wants to move further to the right and wants to lose seats so that it can claim that it needs to move further rightward to attract votes away from the Republicans.

    The truth is human nature is complicated, possibly neither of us understand it sufficiently to determine Obama and Biden’s real motives. The truth may be different from either of our hypotheses.

  6. Carlyle,

    I highly doubt that President Obama sees himself as having failed to implement what he promised – I base this on what he’s said in recent speeches (also, the argument can be made that he’s delivered on many things – the stimulus, financial reform, heath insurance reform, ending combat operations in Iraq, etc.). I was merely suggesting an interpretation of his rationale that seems more reasonable to me (unless you can suggest a reason why he would want to lose seats). As I have said before, I think black and white analyses of things as complicated as our government are naive at best – remember that no one (or at least very few people) are villains in their own minds. The idea that people are wrong or make mistakes is much more persuasive to me than the idea that they are totally corrupt. Another thing that you (and others) seem to ignore is that all politics are local – many Democrats would lose badly if they were as progressive as, say, Anthony Weiner. Does this mean that they should be run out of the party for voting the way a majority of their constituents want? I am of the opinion that the results of electing Democrats will be greatly better (in both the short and long term) that the results of electing Republicans and no one (be they pundits or posters on this blog) has made any kind of compelling argument to the contrary.

  7. Slartibartfast.

    Do you mean that Obama et al are deliberately insulting voters so that they can say that the reason we have lost seats is that we insulted the voters and not that we failed to implement what we promised?

  8. Slartibartfast.

    Different people may do the same thing from different motives and some people may act from multiple motives, so your hypothesis has merit. However I find it hard to believe that Obama, Biden and Robert Gibbs are so stupid as to fail to see that insulting their base will have a negative effect on votes, or that there are not others around them who can inform them of basic human nature.

  9. Carlyle,

    I think your proposition that the ‘party elite’ want to lose seats is ridiculous. A much more reasonable explanation (suggested by someone – I forget who – on MSNBC) is that the president is preparing an excuse for the party losing seats in the midterms. While such an explanation is not to the administration’s credit, in my opinion it makes much more sense than yours…

  10. Elaine M.

    You are a rational person and so are not going to let pique at the insults from your favored party’s representative class stop you voting for the lesser evil, however a large proportion of Democratic voters are going to react emotionally and stay home and the Democrats are going to lose seats which is what the party elite actually want.

  11. Elaine M.

    With regard to your reply to Mike Spindell’s comment.

    Well said. I also think a message opposite of the intended one would likely be sent to Democrats and and Republicans alike–that the voters want to move the country further to the right.

    Democrats are not capable of receiving any message that tells them to move left since they have their tiny little hearts set on following Republicans to the extreme right. The reason that the Democratic Party elite are going out of the way to insult “their” voter base is to encourage them not not to vote. When they comply this elite will say that they are not sufficiently centrist to attract Republican leaning voters, they will never admit that it is their intentional insults and failure to implement promised policies.

  12. Swarthmore mom,

    Maybe some scientific research should be curtailed. After all, we don’t want more mice with fully functioning human brains skittering around.

    🙂

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAPGHf0n7x4&fs=1&hl=en_US]

  13. Blouise, Mike S and Elaine I agree. Another point is that the health of Americans will suffer not only through cutting off benefits but also by denying global warming and ending scientific research on cures for diseases.

  14. Mike S.,

    “This rather long lead-in leads me to the debate at hand, where some, like Tony C. believe that by punishing recalcitrant Democrats, it will lead to the rise of a more progressive party. Further, it is his feeling that the masses will not be hurt by this, since the Republican’s will not dare cut the already shredded benefit network. He is wrong in this and people least able to bear the burden will face harm, with the middle classes also feeling the sharp sting. While I agree with much of what Tony says, I think that he has a blind spot in this case. The Democrats stink, but the Republican spread rot with all their aims.”

    Well said. I also think a message opposite of the intended one would likely be sent to Democrats and and Republicans alike–that the voters want to move the country further to the right.

  15. The arguments for not voting for Democrats this year bring to mind a small piece of history in which I played a minor role, back in the late 60’s.

    Piven and Cloward, two Professors of liberal celebrity wrote a book called “Regulating the Poor” which detailed how the welfare system was actually used to keep people poor and not as a source to assist them. Their solution was to have Welfare Clients militantly demand all of the benefits to which they were entitled and which in truth they weren’t being given. This would supposedly destroy the system and lead to a better method for helping the poor.

    This led to the formation of the National Welfare Rights Organization under a man named Wiley, with the ample support of wealthy liberal backing. Their methods were typically to enter Welfare Centers,”en masse,” take them over and force officials and politicians to supply further benefits to prevent riots. I was a Union Shop Steward at one of the first of these Centers in Brooklyn and two months before the clients stormed the Center had met with Wiley and a Union vice President to plan how the Union could cooperate with the client/protestors. Being radical and 24 years old naiave, I was enthusiastic and cooperative.

    Ah, but then the Law of Unintended Consequences struck and the protestors were viewed indignantly by the general public and the fawning politicians. Welfare rules became tightened, more entrenched and less beneficial. The public in general which had felt empathy for the poor, began to feel hatred for those who would demand that which was perceived as charity. Things became worse for the poor. Piven and Cloward, however, gained further celebrity and they became icons in their field. I came to regret my small role in moving this forward.

    This rather long lead-in leads me to the debate at hand, where some, like Tony C. believe that by punishing recalcitrant Democrats, it will lead to the rise of a more progressive party. Further, it is his feeling that the masses will not be hurt by this, since the Republican’s will not dare cut the already shredded benefit network. He is wrong in this and people least able to bear the burden will face harm, with the middle classes also feeling the sharp sting. While I agree with much of what Tony says, I think that he has a blind spot in this case. The Democrats stink, but the Republican spread rot with all their aims.

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