Are Democrats Deceiving Their Supporters, The Nation, Or Themselves?


I don’t want to pick on the Democrats in their hour of crisis, but I can’t let this pass.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair the Democratic National Committee, sent a video message to party loyalists stating in part,

“Your dedication is at the heart and soul of who we are as a party — but our party has a problem. We know we’re right on the issues. The American people believe in the causes we’re fighting for. But the electoral success we have when our presidential nominee is able to make the case to the country as a whole doesn’t translate in other elections. That’s why we lost in 2010, and it’s why we lost on Tuesday. We’ve got to do better.”


1. “A problem”?

2. How can anyone “know they are right” on “the issues” ? All issues? It is enough that advocates believe they are right. Saying one knows one is right presumes a level of omniscience that is the mark of the arrogant and immodest—no wonder the parties won’t compromise with each other. The opponents of the religious right mock those who base their opposition to evolution, abortion and same-sex marriage on unshakable certainty based on faith. What’s the Democratic faith that justifies similar certainty?

3. “The American people believe in the causes we’re fighting for.” This is just factually false. The majority of the public thinks climate change is a crock. The majority wants tougher immigration enforcement, not less of it. The majority wants litigation reform, which the Democrats fight to preserve trial lawyer fees. Obamacare is wildly unpopular. So is affirmative action. The majority of the public thinks that there is an I.R.S. cover-up. The majority thinks Barack Obama is a weak and feckless President. The majority of Americans think there should be some limitations on abortion, and don’t want to pay for other people’s birth control. Six in 10 American think guns make homes safer, rather than, as the Democrats see it, endangering children.

Yes, the public is in favor of raising the minimum wage, and always is. It will be in favor of raising the minimum wage one minute after the minimum wage is finally raised. The public doesn’t understand the minimum wage, and never has, which is why it is always low hanging fruit for Democrats. If that is the “cause” Schultz is referring to—and since the President mentioned it first among his priorities in multiple speeches, who knows? It might be—see #1 above—then this really is a low ebb in Democratic fortunes. I just heard a liberal radio talk-show host talk about how progressives should be excited that some states approved a higher minimum wage. That’s not “progressive,” that’s traditional.

4. Who are “the American people”? All Americans? A majority? A clear majority? When the majority of Americans didn’t believe in integration, did that make the Democratic position in favor of the Civil Rights Act wrong?

5. “But the electoral success we have when our presidential nominee is able to make the case to the country as a whole doesn’t translate in other elections.” Schultz is talking in generalities, when at best she was referring to one election, if that. A majority of the voters didn’t vote in 2008 and 2012 either: the country “as a whole” never votes. John Kerry ran for President against an unpopular GOP President and lost. No case made there, or electoral success either.  Al Gore should have waltzed to election in 2000 in the wake of a Democratic President with over 60% job approval, and the best he could get was a popular vote tie and an electoral loss. Clinton never cracked 50% when he was running. Carter and Mondale lost. Democrats did fine in the 2006 mid-term elections without a presidential candidate.

What Schultz really means is that members of the Democratic base who knew who the Presidential candidate was in 2008 and 2012 but who can’t name their Representatives and Senators and have no idea what they do—you know, those “stupid voters” Jon Gruber was talking about—won’t show up to vote when they have no idea what they are doing. Republicans have such voters too—“you know, morons.” Is Schultz saying that Democrats have more stupid voters than Republicans? It sure sounds like it. Surely she wouldn’t be calling the African-American base stupid, would she?—those reliable, easily satisfied citizens who would vote 88% for a chew toy to be President, if there was a “D” next to his name, and almost 100%  if that candidate is a black human being, based on “group identification,” a nice word for racial bias.

6. The argument that any party loses any election because a double-secret group of supporters that would have reversed the tide is facile and intellectually dishonest. (I know, this is Debby Wasserman Schultz.)  Any candidate can make that argument, just as validly and invalidly, unless 100% of the eligible electorate votes. But 100% of the electorate doesn’t want to vote, isn’t qualified to vote, or won’t make the effort to vote, and nobody should want them to, unless they are engaged and informed on the candidates and issues. This isn’t unique to Democrats, unless, as I noted already, the party chair is suggesting that more Democrats are ignorant of candidates and current events, and vote only when certain dog-whistles are blown at the right pitch.

7. A non-vote is essentially a negative verdict on both candidates, on both parties, and on the system itself. When the President said “I hear you” to the non-voters in his press conference, he appeared to be saying that he heard  the opposite  message from them than the Republican “wave” of actual voters conveyed, and his party chairman confirmed this convenient delusion. There is no justification for this interpretation. There never is.

51 thoughts on “Are Democrats Deceiving Their Supporters, The Nation, Or Themselves?

  1. Surely she wouldn’t be calling the African-American base stupid, would she?—those reliable, easily satisfied citizens who would vote 88% for a chew toy to be President, if there was a “D” next to his name, and almost 100% if that candidate is a black human being, based on “group identification,” a nice word for racial bias.

    Just to be clear, African-Americans tend to vote reliably Democratic, not necessarily reliably black candidate. Case in point? Tim Scott, African-American Republican from South Carolina.

    But Scott, who is the first African-American senator in the Deep South since Reconstruction, only landed about 10 percent of black voters. His opponent, Democrat Joyce Dickerson, fared well with liberal and moderate voters, and did better among black women (91 percent) than black men (83 percent).

    • I agree, Democratic fear-mongering ensures that party tops group ID. Of course, Progressives deride conservative blacks as traitors to their race, and put out scare pieces like those in Georgia, NC and elsewhere linking Trayvon Martin and Ferguson to Republicans. I think it continues to hold the base, as cynically disrespectful of that base as it is. Black voters wanting to vote Republican are conflicted.

      10% sure is low, though.

      • I agree, Democratic fear-mongering ensures that party tops group ID.

        Not just Democratic fear-mongering, but past Republican behavior and tactics as well. I think it will take a very long time to change the hearts and minds of African-American voters by being in play for Republicans. It has happened before, and will probably happen again at some point, but I think a lot of Republican policy stances will need to be modified for that to happen.

        • Don’t forget media distortion of republican behaviors. Remember when they showed a gun toting tea partier and deliberately edited out the fact that he was black, and then proceeded to comment on how scary that would be for blacks?

            • Deery believes that since the Dems have control of the black population via handouts and scaremongering and conferring selection advantages that the Republicans need to do the same, even though none of those items are healthy for the “benefitted” group nor the greater society. That’s what I suspect she means by that.

              • It worked with the American Indians first.. That big patch of blue in the election maps of Arizona and New Mexico is proof of it. The price, of course, has been the loss of their liberty, their culture and their self-respect. The Ward of the State Curse happened to them, first. Damn shame whenever it happens. Well past time to undo it.

        • The GOP deserves to pay a long, hard price for courting racism for so long. Unfortunately, that means Democrats don’t have to be serious about policies that will really help the problems unique to black communities…and that they benefit by exacerbating racial divisions rather than trying to heal them. I didn’t expect Obama to keep up that deplorable practice, and instead he and Holder escalated it.

          • I didn’t expect Obama to keep up that deplorable practice, and instead he and Holder escalated it.

            And what long, hard price should the Democrats pay for this practice?

            They might have paid a price.


            BTW, the kind of identity politics that support the author’s reasoning is part of why Democrats are losing the white vote. When you spend your time calling the GOP the “white male party”, as if “white male” was an insult, and calling for all minorities to assemble behind the Democratic party, how can you act surprised and throw a tantrum when white men and the women who love them vote for the GOP. YOU TOLD THEM TO! You told them that this was their party, and that they weren’t welcome in your party.

            The GOP doesn’t need to run the Southern Strategy anymore, the faux-left activists will do it for them!

  2. I don’t see anything wrong with this particular quote — it’s meant to rally the base, and the Republicans said the same thing when Romney lost about being right on the issues. Both sides are allowed to give speeches like this Jack.

    And I will take a stab of defending this statement on the merits (although I am not a Schultz fan). First, polls are meaningless. I see results all the time that can only be chalked up to that people are lying. (Otherwise, we live in country where a high percentage of people actually think Obama is the anti-christ and even I don’t think Americans are THAT dumb.) Those same polls only call people with landlines. I don’t think I know anyone younger than me that has a landline anymore — and we are seriously considering getting rid of ours. So any polls are in and of themselves unreliable as they skew to an older generation and/or people who bother responding to them.

    As for what the population wants? Well, certainly the Dems need to regroup and figure out why their base didn’t show up to vote last Tuesday. They obviously screwed up big time. But our electoral process is wacky. I strongly feel that we need proportional representation in Congress. It would get rid of gerrymandering and would allow a person’s vote to count regardless if he lives in a majority Democrat or Republican district. I.e., if a state gets 15 Representatives, then the top 15 vote-getters in that State would go to Congress, regardless of political party. Maybe, under that system, we would get a better feel for what the people really want. And maybe, under such a system, more people actually would show up to vote.

    • 1. They are allowed to lie. They shouldn’t lie. And W-S can hardly open her mouth without lying.
      2. Show me the Romney-related quote “like this” and I’ll post it on the same page. If any Republican spokesperson said “the American Public supports our positions” and “there are two electorates” I’d like to see it.
      3. OK, polls are meaningless. She still has no basis to say the public supports what it doesn’t.
      4. No problem with real proportional representation, except that I fear it’s impossible. And I’d advocate random, computer drawn, identical, square districts, neighborhoods be damned. Sure, some would be more fair than others, but it would eliminate manipulation. Again—it will never happen, so it’s not worth discussing for long.

      • Just about every major Republican speech contains “we are the party of American values.” Every one Jack — it’s even in the GOP platform. Thus, if you are not voting for the Republican, you are against American values.

        Again, both parties are allowed to engage in posturing. I don’t care personally. But I think it is funny that you think that the Democrats are the only ones who do it.

        • Saying you are the party of American values is a legitimate claim—meaning traditional American values, and the Democrats can say the same, meaning a different set of American values. That’s not “Americans agree with our positions” at all. Nor does it suggest that those who vote Democratic are against American values. Elections are about a lot of things. I WISH election were about values, but they aren’t.

          DON’T put words in my mouth, Beth. I did not say Democrats are the only ones who do it. I said that the Democrats just did it, and are doing it in a particularly egregious way. I didn’t mention the other party at all.

          But on your suggestion, I searched for GOP post mortems after 2012. None of what I found was outright lying—wishful thinking at the time, perhaps, but not outrageous spin:

          “The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

          On “CBS This Morning” today, newly-elected Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz argued that “the values in the Hispanic community are fundamentally conservative, but you’ve got to have candidates that connect with that community in a real and genuine way and communicate that the values between the candidate and the community are one and the same.”

          “It makes me wonder who my fellow citizens are,” said Marianne Doherty of Boston. “I’ve got to be honest, I feel like I’ve lost touch with what the identity of America is right now. I really do.”

          “Barack Obama was able to define Mitt Romney before Mitt Romney defined Mitt Romney,” Luntz explained. “The people in places like Ohio had decided that Mitt Romney was not a decent guy before they realized that he actually was a decent guy. [The campaign] didn’t respond. These ads crushed them, and they were on week after week with no response from the Romney campaign.”

          Do you see a “we would have won if everybody voted” claim in there, or anywhere? That’s a very special Democratic theme right now. Go ahead, find the equivalent in 2012. I’ve looked, maybe I’ve missed it.

      • They are allowed to lie. They shouldn’t lie. And W-S can hardly open her mouth without lying.

        You call that a lie?
        This is a lie.

        No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”

        There will be no surprises and no excuses from a Coalition Government

        The last thing you are going to see from me are sudden backflips, sudden changes of heart.

        I want to see car-making survive in this country, not just survive but flourish

        Since those promises were made, just 12 months ago…

        Education cut, Health cut, Pensions cut, ABC/SBS funding cut, GST not increased yet, but will be in a few months, Auto industry deliberately destroyed with no car-makers left.

        And the government claims that there’s been no promises broken.

          • Her point was that Tony Abbot got elected by lying to the public. Her point is absolutely indistinguishable form the one jack is making, except Abbot is a conservative (even if in Australia, which is miles away from American conservatism). In order to be intellectually honest, you have to condemn the behavior just as eagerly as you condemn America’s democrats.

        • Out of curiosity Zoe, are the cuts which took place really just decreases in rate of growth? Sadly, the definition of “cut” is a bit disputed at least here, so he may have a technicality to stand on.

  3. I like how the press is spinning the Gruber video. They are stating that he is saying that he thinks the American people were stupid for believing what they said. I think he was counting on his supporters stupidity and designed his approach to take advantage of it. I see this as the same thing.

    It really frustrates me when I see the garbage arguments that politicians use and that the public (and the press) let them get away with. I read an article recently where a liberal pundit wrote that the high natural gas prices in the northeast were due to natural gas prices being too low. He said if people wanted gas to get cheaper, it would have to get more expensive. This was his argument to counter the claim that the high prices were due to government policies. This is the quality of argument we get from our ‘deep thinkers’ today and we let it pass or we applaud them.

    • Got a link for that article? I consider it far more likely that his words were misinterpreted than that someone actually stated it the way you described. It’s not impossible, but I’m not willing to believe it without verification (followed by a brain aneurysm trying to comprehend it probably)

      • I tried to find it, but it was on Yahoo! news feed several weeks ago. No, he didn’t come out and say that, he used a lot more words. But when I broke it down, he claimed the root cause of the high prices in the Northeast were that gas prices were unusually low. He claimed that gas sellers can only charge a certain % over their costs to deliver the gas, so they don’t want to bother with selling to the Northeast (because ???), this then makes it more expensive. The real problem is the shortage of pipeline capacity in the Northeast. It is difficulty to increase the capacity for the increased population because of government regulations (you try to get those permits).

  4. Here is a wallop for you:

    The article highlights a private Canadian citizen who is shaming Americans for not supporting Obama, and praising Obama for statistics not fully under his control. Yahoo News then posts this little line of commentary: “When it comes to supporting the US President, Canadians, you might say, are a more loyal bunch than Americans” (as if we the people who are are actually accountable for Obama’s election and the potential election of his allies are bound by blind loyalty to support him).

    • How can a Canadian “shame” American voters with an ignorant, silly, embarrassing piece like that? Obama “dug” the U.S. out of the mess Bush caused in Iraq by prematurely pulling the troops out, destabilizing the region, and letting ISIS get a foothold? That Richard Brunt is an idiot, and desperate, bitter-ender progressives who would doubtless be happier in Canada are circulating it to make themselves feel better. Very sad, and embarrassing for them, him, Obama and Canada.

      • This really is the zenith of presumptuousness. This clown doesn’t live here; he has no US heritage or values; he doesn’t understand the culture. Who cares what he thinks? I think I’ll let Iceland know how it should run its government.

    • Why does Brunt being Canadian matter? Canadians as a whole should not be as educated on American Politics as American Citizens are, and a poorly written plea to popular liberalism doesn’t change my mind on that. A Canadian might know more, but giving weight to a piece simply because someone is Canadian, is absolutely daft.

    • But I seem to remember liberals talking about leaving the US for Canada when Bush was elected. Was that to show their loyalty? I don’t remember conservatives doing the same when Obama was elected. I guess the point is that Americans only need to unilaterally support liberal presidents.

      • Can you think of a country more conservative than America? Liberals say they’ll go to Canada because Canada as a whole is further to the left on the political spectrum. Conservatives don’t really have a place to go.

          • I was about to point out that Authoritative Totalitarian and Conservative really aren’t the same thing… But then I thought about it. Fiscal conservatism. Check. Social Conservatism. Check. And if you don’t like it, they’ll kill ya. You aren’t wrong.

            • Big difference, Humble. It’s the difference between a Christian and an Islamic based culture. We don’t want to kill you, violate your children or take away your rights under the Constitution. That’s what leftists and Islamists can, will and have done. In this, you are your own worst enemy.

              • You look at say… Indonesia, which is a Islamic majority nation, (and the most populace) and while they still have their problems, they have more akin with a Western Democracy than fundamentalist religious state. And then if you look at say… Ethiopia, which is a majority Christian nation with a female genital mutilation prevalence of 90% I’d say they have a little more in common with religious fundamentalisms than Western Democracies. Having Christianity present really doesn’t protect the culture from anything, especially with factors like tribalism and poverty present. You’re looking at the situation in the vacuum of wealthy, established cultures, and it’s not honest.

                • That was a nice surface impression you gave us, Humble. The reality beneath is different. Indonesia is seething with anti-Christian hatred, as they’ve proved in numerous attacks on Western tourists and in their aggression against East Timor, a former Portuguese territory and majority Christian area. Their “democracy” is actually a corrupt oligarchy. Ethiopia may be majority Christian, but their government hardly reflects it… any more than America’s does! It’s been absolute chaos there since a communist coup overthrew the monarchy, Eritrea seceded and jihadist bandits from Sudan and Somalia began ravaging the countryside.

            • Fiscal conservatism? (And social conservatism is a moving target) Don’t be ridiculous. So unrestrained, irresponsible and financially ruinous spending is “democratic”? Do you really want to agree that it is “liberal”? Think again.

              • I have to admit, you may have caught me, I’m not entirely versed on the political workings of Iran, I was going off the assumption that you were serious and they reinforced my preconceptions of a wealthy oil exporting, religiously fundamental country.

          • What? Not if the key American characteristic of conservatism is a general belief in a Free Market. Iran does not have this. Nor do I see social conservatism as the iron clad definer of American conservatism either.

        • I cannot think of any country which is across the board more liberal or conservative than the US, so it becomes a question of which countries more closely mirror any individual conservative’s conservatism. It depends on individual priorities, if something like restricting late term abortion is high on your individual conservative issue priority list then Canada is considerably more conservative than the US. Heck for that matter Canada’s healthcare system overall is closer to the ‘conservative’ ideal than the mess the US currently has, to conservatives (not libertarians but conservatives, not sure which a libertarian would prefer) a straight up nationalized system is much better than the technically private system controlled by the government in best fascist style..

          Personally, in terms of ideological match only, among industrialized nations Poland & Ireland are much better fits politically to my conservative biased preferences than the US. While there are practical considerations which argue against my moving to either of those countries (Russia under Putin does not make Poland attractive), in the end it comes down to personal comfort. My conscience would nag at me for not trying to improve the world by keeping America from becoming a more progressive nation albeit only by whatever infinitesimal amount I can, and the pain of a nagging conscience far outweighs the small pleasure of living in country aligned to my political ideals. And yes, I do believe that the world would be better off with an America that doesn’t move further in the direction progressives are moving it.

  5. Oh, the “raise the minimum wage” proponents give me a headache. As you state there is no understanding of the issue. The negative impact on non-profits across the US would be dramatic. When someone touts a $15 minimum wage I ask which of my college student employees are to be let go. We cannot raise prices or cut dividends. Yes, that book you checked out is now twice as much: 0 x 2 = 0.

    • I always simplify it:

      The market can afford $10,000 worth of plumbing. There are 50 plumbers demanding $200 each. Everyone is happy. Except Johnny liberal. He thinks it isn’t fair to pay them $200, so he mandates they be paid $250. Only the market still only can afford $10,000 of work…

      Damn, that means only 40 plumbers get paid…

      Gosh but they get paid more!! To bad for the 10 without work now…

      • Oh and the flip side, the best part, the lower income brackets who could afford $200 plumbers now can’t afford them at $250…

        Guess it doesn’t help out…

        EVEN better!!!!

        When Johnny low-skill is mandated a minimum wage increase, Freddie slightly-more-skilled demands a commensurate pay raise, because it’s unfair that a lower skill worker be paid the same as he. Aha, now Sammy medium-skill wants a pay raise because that isn’t fair!

        Once the tertiary effects are complete and all the companies had to raise prices to accommodate, suddenly cost of living increases and minimum wagers begin crying again!

        Oh I’m sick of you minimum wage increasers.

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