Unsatisfied: Why Liberals Are Never Happy with Democratic Presidents

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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17 Responses

  1. Ted Herman says:

    Which is why for the radical left, the current two-party system is of no use.Report

  2. Steve S. says:

    “For almost all of the past 60 years, liberals…”

    Chait of course doesn’t mean “liberals”, he means the lefty left.  Y’all know who they are, right?  They’re the fanatics who get their core issues addressed only cursorily but bear some cosmic requirement to support the center-center-center-center-center-left Dems nonetheless.

    I just don’t get it.  Either give the lefties some of what they want or quit the goddamned whining.  What are they, 5% of the population, maybe?  Who needs ’em!  I’d rather see America swirl down the Nader Lavatory into the Buchanon Sewer of Eternal Fascism than listen to Chaitian whining the rest of my days.  Can’t swing a Public Option?  I mean, you can’t even give “liberals” a 49 cent Snicker bar of policy?  Then write ’em off and shut your cakeholes.  Forget the lefties and go fight a cage match over the entire population of Missouri if that’s your idea of Valhalla.  Jesus, you’d think Chait/Booman/Obama was our dad and we just told him we want to grow up to be a hairdresser.  “It’s okay with me if you’re into dudes, but please get married and pretend to like chicks.  For the sake of your grandmother, you understand.”Report

  3. James K says:

    I agree completely, even if you prefer one candidate over another that places you under no obligation to be overjoyed if your candidate wins.  You can dislike one guy and utterly hate the other.

    In fact, I’d suggest Obama is a symptom of how the dysfunction of the Republicans is harming the Democrats.  Since the Democrats are the Only Sane Game in Town right now, they can get away with being pretty crummy because what are gonna do, vote Republican?

    Lack of competition breeds stasis and complacency.  Each party is supposed to keep the other honest, but the Republicans are too busy shouting slogans and indulging in conspiracy theory to hold the Democrats to account.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to James K says:

      Migod, JamesK, what media do you consume down there?  Don’t answer; I have a pretty good idea.  I keep up on the Anglosphere.  😉

      Here in the US, ground zero, the Republicans made historic congressional gains in 2010 elections, and the 2011 “by-elections” were inconclusive.

      Just because Obama might survive against a mediocre GOP candidate doesn’t mean the Reps are “dysfunctional.”  The Dems are the ones who look like end-era Blair’s “New Labour,” corrupt and clueless—liable to [rightfully] be voted out just for that, not ideology.

      You haven’t even heard the least of it yet.Report

      • James K in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        At the moment Intrade gives Obama a 51% chance of being reeelcted; given the state of the economy and Obama’s actual performance it should be more like 20%.  Why is that?  Look at his competition: Romney’s a protean android and the other leading candidates: Perry, Cain and Bachmann are completely nuts.  Paul, Johnson and Huntsman would all offer interesting alternatives to Obama (though Paul is still problematic), but they’ll never get nominated.

        I don’t like the Democrats, but the Republicans are no fit challenger, I can’t see them making things better even if they do unseat Obama.Report

        • Kim in reply to James K says:

          538 clocked intrade as being a manipulated market. please don’t use it for making arguments that aren’t about who the Rich And Powerful want to win.Report

          • James K in reply to Kim says:

            Manipulation of prediction markets is effectively impossible. Attempts to do so are inevitably reversed in very little time once the trading volume gets to a reasonable size.Report

      • Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        defending the party that brought black helicopters to the level of congressional investigation?

        … pretty pathetic, ain’t it?Report

  4. <i>But more than that, it’s because Democratic Presidents govern like Democrats, not liberals; and there’s a real difference.</i>

    A more succinct and accurate expression of the structural causes for so much leftist discontent in American politics I’ve never read. Bravo, Elias, bravo.Report

    • Kim in reply to Russell Arben Fox says:

      kos and company did a simple realignment — vote with your pocketbook, and vote for the people you like. if you wanna socialist, send some cash to Bernie. Further, it’s about making it so that the president doesn’t need to be the only face of the movement.

      (did you see Webb’s response to the State of the Union that year? That’s what happens when you let a writer into the chickencoop.)Report

  5. Just as a point of order, at least from my perspective the American Right is not as homogenous as liberals want to believe. We just happen to be a lot better at circling the wagons in order to get what we want.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      I don’t think most people would disagree that there are as many factions within the GOP than there are within the DNC. The difference is, that aside from a few wacky libertarians who only really make up 8-10% of the party anyway, most Republican’s agree on the big picture stuff (taxes must be cut, defense spending must be big, abortion and gay marriage must be banned), it’s just a question of priorities.

      On the other hand, the factions within the DNC truly are factions. There is a center-right portion of the Democratic Party that truly wants to cut taxes, spending, and isn’t the biggest fan of gay rights. There is a portion of the DNC that is friendly to environmental and gay rights, but most ambivalent on labor. And so on.Report

      • So then I guess my question is, what is the glue that holds them all together?Report

        • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

          Because this is a two-party system and even somebody like Ben Nelson doesn’t want to destroy Medicare and Social Security completely. Prior to the last few years, there were also weird geographic oddities that still exist at the local level. For example, the Arkansas Democratic Party still run the state despite losing power at the federal level (Senator’s, Presidential vote.)

          In my personal opinion, if we turned into an IRV/PR system, I think the GOP would largely stay intact. You’d have a Libertarian Party getting 8-10% of the vote, a hardcore right-wing social conservative party getting 3-5% of the vote, but the modern GOP would still hold on to most of their voters because most of their voters agree on the big planks.

          On the other hand, you’d likely have three distinct parties split among the DNC. You’d have a true left-wing Social Democratic Party, a center-right DLC-type party, and then a more Labor-ish/Christian Democratic Party that would rise up.Report

        • So then I guess my question is, what is the glue that holds them all together?

          Nothing much, really, beyond, as Jesse says, it being a two party system, and them being closer to each other than to the median voter of the other party.  But the lack of glue is why Democrats have a harder time with voter turnout than Republicans.  It’s hard to get all their disparate groups to rally around a single candidate.Report

    • Kim in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      Circling the wagons? don’t make me laugh. The right, as always, is better at acting like a bunch of thugs, for whom there is only one head. (the left, in contrast, acts like a happy shiny “new age” family where everyone — bar none, even the baby, votes on what happens next.)Report

  6. Chris says:

    Yeah, “liberals” is probably the wrong word, as Steve S. points out. Surveys consistently show that Obama’s approval rating/satisfied with his performance rating among self-identified liberals is over 80%. Unlike Steve S., however, I don’t think Chait just means the “lefty left.” The “lefty left” never liked Obama, and we never will. We might vote for him, if we vote (a lot of us don’t), because the alternative, pace TvD’s myopic assessment, is way, way worse, but we don’t self-identify as liberal anyway, so we don’t get measured in such polls. In this case, Republicans aren’t helping Obama by being crazy, even if they are (and the House combined with the presidential pool suggests that they are), but simply by being Republicans. Democrats have to give at least a nod to labor, and they’ve generally been further to the left (where further to the left means firmly in the center to center-right) on the environment, health care, reproductive rights, and the other issues that the “lefty left” actually cares about. Republicans don.tReport