But I do think I am ready now to make a baby-step in the direction of a concession to the haters.
It is one thing to worry that the pace of possible reform may be inadequate in the face of the reality of climate change or weapons proliferation or corporate-militarism -- that's a legitimate concern, and I think people of good will may choose revolution over reform as their best judgment dictates, even though I cast my own lot with the heartbreaking path of slow and steady reform, such as it is. However, it has been my greatest fear and frustration with the Obama-disparagement brigade that they refuse actually to own up to the demands and costs of an actually revolutionary orientation, but thereupon invest altogether unrealistic demands and hopes on reform that were provoking disproportionate despair in ways that would be demoralizing and self-defeating to that reform on its own terms.
Primary contests so far have been assuaging these fears of mine somewhat. Although folks are still making big noises about the enthusiasm gap that separates Republican and Democratic voters, it is becoming clearer that:
One: As happened continuously during the healthcare debates of last year, it is highly misleading to treat opposition to progressive reform from the right as monolithically of a piece with opposition to its inadequacy from the left. Few who are disappointed with reform and want more are disappointed enough to prefer nothing to anything, and hence the aftermath of that reform tends to be far more demoralizing for those to whom, to the contrary, anything in the way of reform feels like the loss of everything they were struggling to prevent (and that demoralization tends to be amplified the longer their defeat fails to materialize in the catastrophes the fear of which drove their resistance to reform in the first place). The Republican retreat from "running on repeal" of reformist accomplishment testifies to the dynamics of this difference.
Two: As Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling notes,
most poll answering Democrats who say they're unexcited about voting are still doing so in the races we've had thus far this cycle, so getting too excited about large Republican leads with highly enthused voters when the overall numbers tell a different story is somewhat misleading. An unexcited vote counts just the same as a very excited one.
That is to say, if frustrated Democrats are still voting, then their frustration is as much a strength as a threat. Democrats outnumber Republicans and when we vote we win. Democratic representatives may not be as progressive as their constituencies but they are usually incomparably more progressive than are the Republican alternatives, and the more Democrats in office the more of a voice the more progressive members of the caucus can have, especially when the Democratic base is alert, engaged, and pushing. Democrats do need to be pressured from the left against the inertial forces of incumbency and authoritarian tendencies of prevailing corporate-militarism.
While I still celebrate Obama as likely the most progressive President since FDR this is far from a celebration of all of his separate appointments and policies, many of which I disapprove of as strongly as and for the same reasons as many do who then go on to condemn Obama in the direst terms, which I definitely do not (I truly wonder how much people can actually know of FDR who seem to find this to be a paradoxical attitude for me to take), and so I do cheerfully concede that it is vitally important that fighting liberals and radical democrats provide a countervailing power to the inertial and authoritarian forces of incumbency always already in play. I would like to think I add my own voice to that countervailing power on many issues (lgbt issues, military issues, etc.), despite being dismissed as an uncritical Obamabot by some critics in the Moot.
While I still think there is plenty to disagree with on a case to case basis with many of the most strident attacks on Obama and the Democrats one hears, given what seem to me to be the actually-existing constraining realities at hand, I am becoming less worried that these attacks are crystallizing as a general demoralization that would keep people away from the polls and out of the streets and hence defeat the purpose of radical critique altogether. And hence I am feeling a bit less hostile to the haters for the time being. Especially given how many of them are vegetarian hippy pinko pacifist queers and punks and bleeding hearts like me, when all is said and done.