The Democratic Blame Game

by lizard

After Democrats experienced an electoral smack-down Tuesday, will there be any soul-searching? Or is it time to play the blame game? If it’s the latter, millennials are clearly the first scapegoat being pointed at. Here is one article, titled The Young And The Useless: How Millennials Left Democrats Hanging On Election Day. From the link:

Young voters in particular declined to show up for Democrats. The exit poll shows that voters between the ages of 18 and 29 supported Democrats by a strong 54 to 43 percent margin. But they made up just 12 percent of the electorate — down 7 percent from 2012, and equal to their dismal turnout from 2010.

By contrast, 37 percent of midterm voters were 60 or older — and these voters backed the Republicans by more than 15 percent.

While Millennial turn out was low, voters across the nation did support a wide variety of progressive ballot measures, like increasing minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, paid sick time, and expanding background checks for gun sales. In contrast, two personhood ballot initiatives were defeated by large margins.

It’s a confounding disconnect.

A better scapegoat could be the baggage of the Obama presidency. Six years of broken promises and capitulation to the destructive tendencies of America’s imperial ambitions have rendered an electorate disgusted with both parties. Dave Lindorff explains that Tuesday wasn’t a GOP victory, it was a Democratic rout:

The blame is being placed on President Obama for this drubbing, and he richly deserves it. Basically, his presidency has been one long string of disappointments to and outright betrayal of those who voted for him “hoping for change,” as Obama has caved on or compromised away virtually every progressive promise he made during his two campaigns.

As a constitutional scholar, he had promised to restore respect for the law to the presidency, and instead has made end runs around every law imaginable, refusing to prosecute the war criminals of the Bush/Cheney presidency, the CIA, and the military, refusing to prosecute the FBI for violating the Patriot Act, refusing to prosecute the bankers whose crimes brought the US and the global economy to a grinding halt and left the US crippled going on six years now.

He has run the most secretive administration in history, even employing the 1917 Espionage Act against leakers and whistleblowers, and threatening journalists with jail for publishing those leaks. Under his watch, too, the Homeland Security Department secretly orchestrated the nationwide crushing of the Occupy movement by local police departments, while the White House, all the while, offered homilies about the sanctity of the right to protest. (His HSD’s Office of Threat Assessment actually labelled this publication a “threat” for publishing an article exposing that role — a discovery which we now proudly display on our masthead above.)

Claiming to have been a “community organizer,” Obama hung the labor movement that had backed his campaign for president out to dry, declining to push for a promised and desperately needed reform of the National Labor Relations Act that would have ended the interminable and easily delayed process of requiring a secret ballot election to form a union, by reverting to the old system of obtaining a majority of signed cards from workers.

On climate change, which he had once called the issue of our time, his administration actually actively worked behind the scenes, with the help of the National Security Agency, to subvert efforts by international leaders to reach an international consensus on action in 2009 in Denmark. This Obama treachery allowed the world to lurch on towards a climate-change armageddon.

After promising to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama first drew out the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, leading to further chaos there and ultimately to the current disaster where the country is being torn apart by an invasion by the former Baathist military leaders who were earlier turned out by the Bush/Cheney invasion and occupation. Then he expanded the war in Afghanistan, dragging out that conflict to make it, at 13 years and running, the longest war in US history. And after spending hundreds of billions of dollars on pointless war and killing thousands of more Afghans and American soldiers too, he has left a nation in tatters which will revert to Taliban control again probably within months of the last US soldier leaving on the last troop transport.

No wonder the public was pissed this Election Day.

Climate change is one of the issues I think Democrats will have the most problems with going forward because it pits environmentalists against labor interests. Ochenski had a good piece on Monday about the tangible impacts of climate change on Montana’s hunting tradition and the failure of Lewis and Curtis to distinguish themselves from Daines and Zinke. From the link:

While many lament the falling number of hunters in recent years, it’s quite possible they are failing to connect the dots between our warming climate and fewer hunters. Not too tough to figure out, though, that if you go hunting and return without having seen or shot an elk year after year, one might just decide to hang up the elk rifle after a while.

A stunning affirmation of the current conditions was made plain when a good friend, who is a backcountry cook for an outfitter, said out of the nearly two months of wilderness rifle season so far, they had only taken one elk out of their Bob Marshall Wilderness camp. One elk.

Considering the cost for a week’s outfitted hunt runs about $5,000-$6,000 per individual, it’s not hard to predict that those who paid so much for a treasured Montana elk hunt only to find no tracking snow and no elk will be far less likely to do so in the future.

Yet, Montana’s politicians continue to embrace “all of the above” energy policies that only exacerbate global climate change. Keystone XL pipeline? They all support it. Mining more coal to ship to China? You bet. Cutting down more forests that actually take carbon dioxide out of the air? Oh yeah, let’s congressionally mandate even higher harvest levels. And of course more drilling and fracking garners universal applause from Republicans and Democrats.

But none of this happens in a vacuum. So how much of Montana’s hunting tradition – and economy – are our politicians willing to sacrifice to ever more energy production and consumption?

The Keystone XL pipeline will probably be one of the first showdowns between a Congress that hasn’t been this Republican since 1929 and Democrats. This won’t be an easy issue for Democrats, considering many support the pipeline and the ones who don’t haven’t been all that vocal in opposition because of labor’s advocacy and the fear of being tar and feathered as anti-jobs.

All in all, we are in for a frustrating two years of gridlock, shutdown and polarization over the wedge issues that dominate our political conversation in this country while the consensus of perpetual war keeps pushing us to the brink of WWIII.

And so it goes.

  1. lizard19

    I’m going to add that the low turnout of millennials was predictable. I’ve written about Democrats taking them for granted, and it appears those warnings were accurate. so Mother Jones (and local politicians) can tweet and retweet all they want about millennials not showing up, but the problem isn’t with the millennials. I’m listening to NPR right now talking about how to “reengage” with young people. yeah, develop all the outreach strategies you want, but it’s the actions (or inaction) of the Democratic party that really matters, until that’s addressed, any attempt at outreach will be seen as the bullshit pandering that it will inevitably be.

    that Mother Jones article is titled If Millennials Had Voted, Last Night Would Have Looked Very Different but it’s pretty devoid of substance, a reflection of the problem perhaps?

  2. The Greenies got walloped.

    “Despite millions spent to make climate change a wedge issue during the midterms, environmentally friendly candidates didn’t fare well on Election Day.

    Green groups funneled an unprecedented amount of money into top Senate races that determined control of the upper chamber but fell short.

    The nation’s top environmental groups including the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate spent at least $85 million on six Senate races.

    Out of those six races, only two candidates willing to take action on climate change won their races.
    In Michigan, Rep. Gary Peters (D) won, and in New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) held on to her seat. But Republicans picked up crucial Senate seats in Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina.”-The Hill

    • Hey Mark, that $85M, good money or bad?

    • So you’re telling me that I should have supported Democrats as greenies, despite my knowledge that that party is in bed with the resource exploitation corporation.

      So you haven’t a clue of the rift between environmentists and the Big Green groups.

      It’s all because you can’t read, Swede.

      • Your quote, “The only thing of American politics that is true is a relentless rightward push generated by money, and operating on both parties.”

        Not true, the left pushes too, relentless to the left. Soros, Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, the groups mentioned above, and others.

        • That’s part of the problem, that right wingers are perceived as the left too, full spectrum dominance. These men you name are oligarchs. Nothing more.

          • Couldn’t you say Nader was a oligarch want-to-be?

            Oligarchs don’t have to be mega rich, just powerful, able to wield influence.

          • Swede, you always have the advantage in debate because your are so impenetrable. People take time to reason, but you don’t (can’t?) read, and cannot process information. Ergo, as Rob Kailey said, you always win by default.

            Anyway, your Nader comment: Stupid.

          • Your impenetrability is based on the fallacy that corporations numbering in the 100’s of thousands pose a greater threat to life liberty and happiness than an all powerful centralized government.

            Nader would just so happen to relish that power.

            • The idea that huge pockets of concentrated wealth in the hands of a few executives are a danger to democratic governance is not a fallacy. They have already taken over government, own our media, control our military. They own your mind. CIA works at their behest, murder incorporated.

              Tell me now again how Nader, who could not afford TV advertising, and only spoke at large public gatherings, threatened our illusory freedoms. I am all ears.

    • JC

      So, some “green” money was spent on senate races, and from that you conclude… they got walloped?

      How about the Koch bros.? They spent over a $100 million on the election (at least trackable money), and their laundering service, AFP, spent $77 million on “competitive” races. La-de-f*cking-da.

      So what’s your point, besides the fact that TV, Radio, and print enterprises make out like bandits during elections?

      We’ve gotten the best Congress that money can buy. Too bad it doesn’t come with a warranty when it fails to produce.

  3. Turner

    I’m not sure what a millennial is, but I interact with quite a few young people of voting age. Most are entirely detached from the electoral process. Their lack of enthusiasm for voting seems to have little to do with disenchantment with either party, Obama’s failures, or international events. They’re bored with analysis and are indifferent to issues.

    Just before the election I spoke with a young woman in a coffee shop and asked her how she intended to vote. She said she didn’t know because she hadn’t spoken with her uncle yet. He always tells her whom to vote for.

    Other young people I’ve spoken with weren’t even aware that there would soon be an election. They seemed surprised when I told them there would be.

    I think many, maybe most, of our young people are like Peter Pan. They don’t want to grow up. They want to remain children forever. They just want to go play.

    Hours of reality TV, computer games, and being plugged in to whatever the latest pop music service delivery system is have effectively puerilized them. They’re insulated from the world of adults. They’re annoyed when it breaks in on their happy children’s worlds.

    So, Liz, your sense of disengagement from a political process that you’ve grown to despise for reasons you can defend is quite different from young people’s sense of disengagement. If you start talking with them about your dislike of our political system and its failings, their eyes will quickly glaze over. They’d rather go play than listen to you.

    I think we’re dealing with almost a new species of human being now.

    • lizard19

      how am I disengaged from the political process? I educate myself, write almost daily here to educate others, and I voted. no, I’m not knocking doors or donating money, but I think it’s quite a stretch to depict me as politically disengaged.

      I do think there is some truth to the lack of maturity among young people. the 20’s is a decade of deferred adulthood for many. it was for me, though I still managed to vote and try to understand the issues of the day.

      maybe young people today have internalized the uselessness of the political process for the issues they face, like student debt and lack of job opportunities. upward mobility has been demolished and the upcoming generation will probably be the first to do worse than their parents generation.

      do candidates understand they need to make an effort to reach out to this population, or will they continue to write them off as hopelessly apathetic, like you have done with your comment? taking the youth vote for granted is something Democrats should probably stop doing, because it did have an impact this year.

    • JC

      “They’re bored with analysis and are indifferent to issues.”

      Right where the oligarchs want them to be.

      “I think many, maybe most, of our young people are like Peter Pan. They don’t want to grow up. They want to remain children forever. They just want to go play.”

      I’ve been watching a series of documentaries released in the last decade or so of the Isle of Wight concerts in ’68-’70. Largest concerts ever (600,000 people in 1970). I’m going to re-watch the materials from Woodstock.

      What I see and read in documentaries and biographies of the hippy movement, and what I “remember” myself, is not much different than Turner’s statement. But I see that as a “feature” of growing up. Not a “bug.”

      It’s not about the Millennials, the Beats, the Hippies, or the Punks. It’s about every generation having to do its own soul-searching. And it is hard to find one’s self if one buys into the dominant paradigm of its time.

      So, yeah. Disillusionment with the political process? Check. Fear of what the future brings? Check. Trying to find meaning in one’s life outside of just being a round peg in a round hole? Check. Today’s youth are no different than those of any other modern generation. Nor will be the next generation, the so-called “Indigos.”

      Unfortunately the Depression era kids got conscripted to be fodder in WWII, and never had the opportunity to do any navel-gazing or authority-questioning, and that gave us white picket fences and Father Knows Best, and a B actor president to remind us that sacrifice coming out of depression and war always leads us to the best of socio-economic conditions. Trust the oligarchs and trickle down when they piss on you.

      Back to Turner’s and my opening quote in this comment: If the oligarchs have their way, it will be depression -> WWIII -> and back to the white picket fences of socio-economic repression.

  4. steve kelly

    No power changed hands, just new packaging to hide the contents — less for a higher price. Both parties are losers and a growing number of eliglble voters will no longer agree to cooperate with the obvious fraud.

  5. steve kelly

    One person, one vote gives individuals freedom to express personal thought, choice. The majority has spoken, clearly. If elected representatives refuse to listen, well, I fail to see that as a ligitimate reason to denonounce individual choice — whatever it may be..

    There are plenty of better ideas, just little to no opportunity. That{s what money buys. Corruption, plain and simple.

    • We are paralyzed with this notion that our only outlet for political expression is the vote. There is virtually no connection between words spoken during campaigns and performance in office. It’s a waste of time.

      • Mark, I seem to remember that several cities voted to up their minimum wage, several states voted to defend same-day registration for voting, a couple of states and the capital district voted to decriminalize or legalize cannabis, Washington decided to actually look into gun buyers and see if they are flaming wackos and reproductive rights were defended in two states, sadly not a third. These things came about by citizen driven vote. I submit to you that we are not paralyzed by the vote, but enabled by it. Your critique of candidates is probably fair. That isn’t the only option afforded by the ballot, is it?

        • This reminds me of the list syndrome, where when challenged with Obama’s pathetic performance in office, just due to the sheer volume of issues that come up Democrats are able to pick ten or fifteen minor items and make them appear to be an impressive list of accomplishments. Meanwhile, all if the massive failures and deceptions are ignored.

          That’s all you did here. It is nothing more that a debate tactic.

          • That’s just dismissive rationalization. Aren’t you the one preaching that the only way people can stand against the Oligarchy is “to organize”? How better to organize than around the ballot in which we have direct control? Are you just that eager for shotguns and pitchforks that you have to deny very real citizen victories? Or are you so convinced of our slavery that you’ve given up?

          • I can think a dozen better ways to organize.

            Here are some effective organized movements from the past: Environmentalists, who use the courts to hold lawbreaking agencies accountable. They are currently under attack by both parties.p because they are effective against big party donors. Labor unions, historically the most effective counter-oligarchic force ever assembled. One party despises them openly, the other privately. NRA, gun rights, effective grassroots tactics keep politicians afraid.Senior citizens have managed, to some degree, to preserve Social Security and Medicare from open attacks by one party, and stealth by the other.

            That’s how organizing works. It doesn’t push a ballots issue here and there. It keeps powerful people pissed off and scared.

            • Mark, the very first two ‘organizational schema” you bring up are at extreme odds with each other. I submit and suggest to you that in such cases there comes a time that you have to choose. I know my criteria for choice. Do you?

              The funny thing about your other examples is that they all control the Oligarchs through ballot and voting. That’s pretty much what I said. I have been arguing for some time that citizen access to the vote is exactly what scares and pisses off the powerful people. They can’t take it away from us, yet. So that strikes me as the perfect pole around which we should dance, pun intended.

            • Voting is merely a currency, but not in and of itself power if there is no organization behind it. Labor had FDR’s back, gave him power. Yeah, they voted, but the essential element is that they were organized.

              Democrats are not an organized force, no matter how many vote or do not vote because they do not hold people accountable.

              Environmentalists are a force because they are organized. Note that they are not a significant voting bloc. They are merely organized and effective, which pisses powerful people off.

  6. The idea that not voting is an effective statement about politics made by those who don’t vote is illogical as hell. To assume so involves premises that are not true (the idea that not voting will change ANYTHING) or (the idea that in aggregate, non-voters are not voting to prove a point). We have evidence that voting does change things, as Rob pointed out.

    The large amounts of people who don’t vote May very well be doing so for a littany of reasons, whether that be disgust with politics In general, a lack of causes to rally around,candidates, Etc.

    To explain why non-voting is occurring more often is one thing. But to defend it is foolish, and is a sorry justification for a tragedy of the commons- speaking more to the fact that in aggregate, voters and non-voters may not be that rational.

    The lesser of two evils is a tired argument, but if you look at it that way it is still “less evil” -which is preferable. Sometimes voting can bum you out, and feels like nothing more than an exercise in harm reduction. So it goes .

    • Who ever said that “not voting is an effective statement about politics”?

      You’re twisting the argument. Better stated, it is as follows: Not voting exposes the fact that there is nothing positive to be achieved by voting.

      Orr stated another way by someone else: If God wanted us to vote, he’d have given us candidates.

      Are Democrats capable of looking in the mirror? Have any said “It’s our fault. We are uninspiring, ineffective, bought, and need to clean our house.”


  7. lizard19

    I really appreciate all the great comments, thank you.

    Rob at Cowgirl made some important points about some of the local impacts, like Brad Johnson elected to the PSC. the real damage of these midterm elections will be felt at the state level with Republicans controlling a majority of state legislatures. the Democrat money machine doesn’t seem all that interested in paying to defend lower profile state seats.

  8. steve kelly

    There is nothing irrational about an individual making a personal decision to not vote, given the corrupt state of our political process. Some people refuse to shop at WalMart, some refuse to buy lottery tickets. Others will not participate in a corrupt, rigged election system. These individual decisions are personal. The fact that neither party is interested in what 2/3 of eliglble voters are thinking reinforces the trend toward more non-voting.

    Individuals are often misunderstood. The key to understanding is to ask a few questions. I have, and have found that young people are very interested in protecting our environment.

    As long as environmental quality is dismissed as unimportant (a “pet” issue), I believe the trend will continue.

    • Young people are incredibly naive. They fall for the lie that pipelines is the worst form of transporting fluids.

      “America depends on a network of more than 185,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines, nearly 320,000 miles of gas transmission pipelines, and more than 2 million miles of gas distribution pipelines to safely and efficiently move energy and raw materials to fuel our nation’s economic engine.”

      Next time you run across a young voter ask them how they would move oil/gas safely. Along thousands of miles of railroads which parallel watersheds or beneath the ground crossing rivers and streams once.

      • you have greatly oversimplified this issue. Things need to be made as simple as possible, but not more so. Who said that?

        Just one aspect that went by you: The products to be moved in the pipeline are for export. Americans do not benefit other than some temporary employment during construction. It’s for the benefit owners of Canadian crude and their foreign customers. Please deal with that.

        • You’re the one being simple minded. We import we export, live with it. Every item we export benefits our trade deficit. Every gallon of crude we don’t have to buy from US haters benefits us with the option to tell them to go pound sand we’ll refine our own.

          KXL does not transport Canadian products exclusively but will transport 100,000 barrels a day of Bakken crude.

        • Where are long-term benefits for Americans, American wealth creation, American jobs? As far as I can tell, it’s just a doormat operation for some multinationals to avoid Canadian opposition. Their preference is by sea via Vancouver.

          Bakken, as far as I can tell, is a flash in the pan.

          • JC

            Bakken is going to dry up faster than… well, I’ll be PC here… dry up fast as the price of oil gets pushed down by Obama & his Saudi buddies. Why are they pushing oil prices down? To hit the Russian government where it hurts: oil revenues. It’s just another salvo in Cold War 2.0.

            And neocons and neolibs could care less if oil development/production in the Bakken becomes collateral damage in the new cold war.

        • I should add, on Bakken, there are huge production costs, a need for intense drilling to stay ahead of steep decline curves. ConocoPhillips could not justify a pipeline, backed away, as JH tells me. He said all the money to be made is above ground, I.e., promoters.

      • JC

        KXL opposition has nothing to do with the pipeline vs. rail/truck debate. Nor is it about where is the oil transported to.

        Simply said, KXL opposition is about whether or not we can convince the powers-that-be that a continued reliance upon carbon-based fuels contributes to energy or national security.

        As long as the U.S. can wield oil as an economic weapon (and we currently are using it as a weapon against Russia), then a transition away from oil is one way to reduce american hegemony.

        And another main goal of KXL opposition is to inhibit the cultural and environmental damage to aboriginal lands and indigenous culture in Canada.

        Any other diatribes against those who oppose KXL are just straw men and red herrings.

  9. By the way, here’s a system of campaign finance used in other countries (there are no magic bullets for the problem of corruption, but this is a mild elixir):

    After reaching a threshold of support, say 5% in a primary, candidates receive basic funds from government. They have access to TV for Debates, but cannot run professional ads, which are manipulative and subversive. Newspaper advertising is limited to statement of policy positions. Party designation is up to the candidate, that is, the fact that s/he belongs to this or that party is information only, otherwise ignored. Parties are not allowed to fund candidates.

    As to more funding, it is a refundable tax item, and there are limits in place, and of course, only real people can do it. Corporation or any other legal fiction do not participate. Say there is a $1,000 limit on general election contributions. I give that amount to my favorite candidate, and on my tax return I take a refundable credit in that amount. (I think Canada does 80%.)

    There you have it: elimination of advertising lies, universal access via public debates, individually-directed public financing. Government pays the bill, but does not decide who gets funded beyond a very basic level.

  10. steve kelly


    You push whatever AM-radio agenda you like on “naive” young people. Skip everything important, and drill right smack into the middle of Heritage’s manufactured environmental (energy actually) controversy du jour. Young people are much smarter than you estimate. Propaganda for old, white males has little impact — except to put them on the run. And run from this election they did, in droves.

    Please note, you and Democrats Lewis and Curtis are singing the same tune on Canadian Tar Sands exports.

    • Idiots who can’t debate throw outs insults such as “Heritage” or “Rush” or “Right Wing Think Tank”.

      They never discuss the substance of what is said, only their biased dissolution of what they are.

      • I am not an idiot, nor is Steve, far from it. That’s really lame. I used to subscribe to Heritage’s magazine and ate all that stuff up, but I was young, Swede, and I outgrew it, just like Atlas Shrigged. It’s for juveniles. You are in cement, never questioning your own ideas. You need for move forward.

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