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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2014 Mid-Terms Will Not Be A Re-Run of 2010

In the lead-up to the 2010 midterm shellacking, "Death Panel Summer" endlessly amplified right-wing lies as an organizing tool. Of course, it was always obvious that the Koch Brothers invested vast sums of money and Fox News devoted enormous amounts of air-time to create and to promote the so-called "grass-roots" "populist" Tea Party movement and its welter of anti-Obamacare websites, mailers, rallies, events, supplying buses to ship the rubes to rail in front of the right cameras. All of that elite-incumbent investment canalized and articulated a seething reservoir of anxiety and resentment about the billionaire bailouts of 2008 and the still-ongoing unemployment crisis into a mass suicide pact to get the chief victims to vote for their own worst enemies, Republicans devoted to austerity and billionaire tax-cuts and all too willing to obstruct problem-solving into total dysfunction.

Of course, lots of wingnuts across the country and even in office are high on their own supply and are behaving as if Obamacare really is totalitarianism -- rather than simply a private enterprise friendly expansion of the already popular and effective medicaid program to millions of Americans and then the regulation of the worst, most unjust, most wasteful private insurance practices paid off with a magnificent bribe of a mandate to buy private insurance for millions more Americans who can afford it. (It should go without saying that like every sane informed person I advocate a single-payer healthcare system, and hope further Medicaid expansions, early Medicare buy-in, pilot state-level single-payer experiments, and increased support for non-profit healthcare collectives move us from where we are to where we need to be going next.) Be that as it may, for those unfortunates who fear kenyamuslifascisocialism, a botched few weeks of a website demonstrated Obamacare's inevitable fatality, and they still seem to expect that anti-Obamacare messages will create a re-run of the 2010 mid-terms for Republicans, or at any rate preserve the reactionary firewall erected by 2010. (If not, I suppose they will always have Paris, er, Benghazi!)

Gerrymandering, voter disenfranchisement drives, and the co-incident bad math of Democratic exposure in the Senate have created a formidable environment for Democrats in 2014, but there are few signs of a re-run of 2010 for those who are not pining for them or given over to paranoiac panicking over them. Right now in the lead-up to the 2014 midterms, exposures of white-racist patriarchal plutocracy amplify very different narratives and organize very different constituencies than the ones Republicans depend on. Observing the success of Obama's presidential campaign organizing two times in a row, Democrats seem finally to be turning away from the long-crippling conventional wisdom of wishy-washily appealing to so-called independent "moderates" (who either do not exist or are mostly just Republicans too uncomfortable with the bald racism and dysfunction of public Republicans to admit to their Republicanism in public) and are focusing instead on motivating their own base voters, or more interestingly still, expanding that base by investing in highly selective voter education, registration, mobilization strategies to overcome traditional mid-term turnout deficits.

There are months to go and the vicissitudes of politics will throw up who knows how many occasions for Republicans to exploit to demoralize the jittery always fractious left -- and of course the demographic pluralizing and secularizing of American culture will continue to create perverse benefits for conservatives right up to the point they force a radical conservative re-invention, because this plural and secular reality can mobilize defensive discipline on the right while at once reassuring the left into complacency -- nothing is guaranteed and the goal of winning back many Governor's mansions and both keeping the Senate and regaining the House remains a fraught, fragile hope even if everybody plays their cards right, but those counting on or dreaming about or having nightmares over a 2010 re-run are in for a real surprise.

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