In the aftermath of the debt ceiling debacle, I found myself wondering how exactly we came to the point where the Republican Party answered to the “Tea Party” contingent within the GOP, while Democrats largely shunned their progressive base in order to barter a turd of a deal that gave Republican House Speaker John Boehner 98% of what he wanted in the form of spending cuts, while Democrats got absolutely no revenue increases on their end of the “deal.”
Political and digital media consultant Peter Daou imagines how things might have been if Democrats treated their liberal base with the same respect Republicans showed: to the Tea Party.
Imagine a scenario where Democrats, instead of marginalizing the netroots, treated them with the same awe and respect the Tea Party engenders on the GOP side. Imagine an Obama presidency where the health care debate started with a fierce fight for single-payer; where Gitmo had been closed; where gay rights were unequivocally supported; where Bush and Cheney were investigated for sanctioning torture; where climate change was a top priority; where Bush’s civil liberties violations were prosecuted rather than reinforced; where the Bush tax cuts expired; where the stimulus was much bigger; where programs for the poor, for research, jobs, infrastructure, science, education, were enhanced at the expense of war and profits for the wealthy; where the Republican assault on women’s rights was met with furious resistance. I could go on and on.
In short, imagine an America where the Democratic establishment loudly proclaimed that they were unshakable champions of core progressive values and that they would work hand in hand with their base to convince America that their ideas were superior to the right’s.
Of course, that’s a fantasy. The unwillingness of Democratic leaders and strategists to do anything remotely close to that has virtually guaranteed that the triangle isn’t formed on the left. Obama’s supporters are fond of pointing to the GOP House and complaining that his hands are tied because of the 2010 midterms. But it’s precisely the Democratic establishment’s decrepitude that enabled the rise of the Tea Party and the 2010 defeat.