Why Obama’s budget causes problems for Democrats - screwing the brand

Posted in Around The Nation at 1:51 pm by wcnews

I had a friend of mine, a few years after Bush was elected in 2000, who was fairly apolitical told me once that he usually winds up voting for the Democrat. I asked him why? And he said, “because they are usually for the little guy, like me”. That’s what is so wrong with Obama’s budget, it screws the little people, aka poor, working and middle class Americans.

The Democratic brand, going back to the New Deal, is about helping those in need and creating a vast middle class. And that’s exactly what Obama’s budget won’t do. This from Rick Perlstein explains it pretty well.

What should the Democrats’ consistent, long-term message consist of? I will avoid prescribing what it should be, other than to note that for reasons of history and structure it must tend to the work of economic equality. There are really two reasons to stay away from details. First, they would distract from the real point of this essay, which is not about programs but about structure. Second, there are lots of possibilities for programs, and it would be misleading to focus on some favored set. It could be universal single-payer health care. It could be free college education or universal pre-kindergarten or both. It could be a program to make the government the employer of last resort, putting the underemployed to work rebuilding infrastructure. It is not the work of a day, a month, or even a year to settle on what the course should be. I argue here only that there must be a course.

Why must these programs tend to the work of economic equality? One reason is structural (or “path-dependent,” as the social scientists say): the modern Democratic Party’s strongest store of cultural identity, of value built over time—its “brand identity,” as the marketers put it—is in its work to producing economic equality. Abandoning it makes as much sense as McDonald’s deciding to drop the hamburgers and remake itself into a chain of pancake joints.

Another reason is more simple—numbskull simple. Any marketing executive will tell you that you can’t build a brand out of stuff the people say they don’t want. And what do Americans say they want? According to the pollsters, exactly what the Democratic Party was once famous for giving them: economic populism.

But this via Digby, QOTD: Corey Robin, is pretty good as well.

Liberals often have a difficult time making sense of these [anti-tax] movements – don’t taxes support good things? – because they don’t see how little the American state directly provides to its citizens, relative to their economic circumstances. Since the early 1970s, with a few brief exceptions, workers’ wages have stagnated. What has the state offered in response? Public transport is virtually non-existent. Even with Obama’s reforms, the state does not provide healthcare or insurance to most people. Outside wealthy communities, state schools often fail to deliver a real education. In such circumstances, is it any wonder ordinary citizens want their taxes cut? That at least is change they can believe in.

And last but not least, Democrats, this isn’t going well. (sigh).

This isn’t going well, and Democrats are in charge. 2014.

That’s what our folks in Washington need to understand. That is going to be the overwhelming assessment we get from the public unless we turn this shit around and at least appear to be fighting for the average person. Because in 2014, nobody is going to give a shit that we didn’t change the Senate rules or failed to reform campaign finance or that chess moves are being planned out for 20 years from now. All they’re going to know is this shit isn’t going well and Democrats are in charge.

So, to the White House and the Senate leadership: You all are about to get creamed. Again. I know the GOP will obstruct everything. Good. Use that as your springboard. Just dismiss this foolishness of trying to craft a bipartisan legislative agenda and go for the full on political combat. So just get rid of the filibuster, stop fucking around trying to balance the budget, and just start doing shit for regular people who are broke.

Do shit for regular people who are broke.




  1. BlueBoomerHD said,

    April 21, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    …”and Democrats are in charge.”


    The Democratic Progressive caucus in the US House created the best budget proposal so far, the Back to Work Plan, and it will NOT be able to pass in the US House (Remember the Republican majority?).

    The President’s budget proposal will also fail to pass in the US House, because it asks for increased revenue; the NO! (formerly known as Republicans) can’t take yes for answer.

    Neither will pass in the Senate, because this is where the Democratic majority leader failed to correct the problematic filibuster rules. This is where the Democrat’s majority should work, and doesn’t; our own fault!

    Understand this! Communicate this! Register and vote in 2014!

  2. wcnews said,

    April 21, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I agree with you 100% but we can’t get there with the leader of our party putting forth a budget (to the right of Nixon) that cuts Social Security.

  3. BlueBoomerHD said,

    April 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Nixon was a socialist, by the tea potty’s wing-nut standards (EPA and Clean water Act plus opened diplomatic relations with Communist China, etc…), but Pres. Obama’s budget is still to the left of Tricky Dicky!

    Obama has, IMO, made too many efforts at bi-partisan progress, but he is (after all) everybody’s president.

    If we want to make progressive progress (redundancy intended) we need to vote in a Democratic majority in the US House, and a 60 vote majority in the Senate (in case the leadership blinks again). Then we must push things in the direction of our choice!

    Give Hope and Change a Chance… and a PUSH!!!

  4. BlueBoomerHD said,

    April 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm


    I will probably run for US House again in 2014; district TBD.

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