Friday, December 19, 2008

The myth of electoral accountability

DailyKos and Open Left especially have been making an issue of "progressive accountability", or ways to ensure progressive priorities on the campaign trail are translated into action. This typically takes one of two forms- first, by complaining that Democrats as a party tend to be overly willing to accede to demands of the Republican (minority) party (see here, here, and here for examples), or secondly by seeking strategies to ensure that Democrats are forced to be more responsive to progressives (see here and here).

This type of discussion has usually been restricted to progressive dissatisfaction with Obama's cabinet selections, which makes sense given that he has yet to advance any specific policy positions. However, in the wake of Obama's decision to have Rick Warren offer the invocation at the inauguration, the issue appears to be at a boiling point. Rachel Maddow called it "a lose-lose proposition" and "the first big mistake of his post-election politicking." However, Obama has defended his selection as his attempt to "create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans." This attitude seems to match well with that of his White House Chief of Staff selection, Rahm Emanuel, whose attitude seems to be that it's OK to piss off the progressives since it makes the new administration "look bipartisan."

What the progressive commenters here are missing is the same thing that they've been missing all along. Namely, that neither of the two major parties will ever be more interested in what progressives say than what big business says. Markos at the DailyKos even disparaged Nader supporters, saying

Fuck Ralph Nader, and fuck his supporters. If the past eight years hasn't smacked any sense into their addled brains, then nothing will. This site caters to the reality-based community. No one else need apply.
So at what point do you start to question your repeated (and failed) attempts to pursue your strategy, Markos? Well, it appears he's on the right track:
So you either tear your hair out and go mad at the rank idiocy of it all, or you laugh. And let me tell you, the number of times we've gone through this crap makes laughing about it increasingly difficult.
Welcome to the true reality-based community here, Markos. Maybe you have a few more years of disappointment ahead before some sense gets smacked into your addled brain, but I think sooner or later you'll come around.

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