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