The left and the left of left are at each other’s throats, locked in a battle of high minded principles versus bread and butter pragmatism. Divided over whether President Obama is a skilled negotiator who had to make a bad deal in order to protect the unemployed and the middle class, or a weak leader who caved in to hostage takers.
If there was ever a time when we could use a common enemy, it’s now. Oh sure, Sarah Palin is still out there, fluttering and twittering around. But with her book sales flagging and her reality show ratings down, she just isn’t the polarizing figure we need right now.
What we need is a good Tea Party rally, with gun-toting protestors carrying poorly spelled signs: “DREEM Act is Ammnesty!” “Don’t Ask to Clime in my Fox Hole and I Won’t Tell you to Go to Hell!” “Obama’s Death Tax is Sochialism!”
We need a crowd of about 5000 middle-aged white men dressed in tights and wigs, or with tea bags dangling in front of their faces. We need all-day coverage from Fox News, reporting that there were at least 100,000 in attendance.
We need Gretchen positing in her innocent voice “I just wonder how many of these protesters are actually Democrats? I mean, that’s what some people are saying and I just wonder if that’s true?” And then later Sean will report “There are reports that at least half of the 250,000 in attendance are angry Democrats, fleeing Obama in droves.” And then Glenn Beck will explain that Barack Obama split his base on purpose to purify the Democratic party, and he’ll adraw on his blackboard to show how this was George Soros’ true plan all along, since the day that Barack Obama was born in a far off land and Soros sent his minions to Hawaii to plant a false birth certificate.
But alas, the Tea Party has been laying low since the mid-term elections. Maybe they’re waiting to see whether the pets they helped elect to office are going to follow through on their Commitment to America. Maybe they’re meeting in secret, grumbling to each other about promises already broken – high power lobbyists being hired, pork barrel spending being sought, back room deals being struck with the secret Muslim Kenyan illegitimate president. Or maybe they are finding out that they were just a tool of a few billionaires and the GOP establishment, and now the funding has disappeared until the next election cycle.
So without a common enemy, we are left to work our differences out together. Those who are angry that the President negotiated with the GOP hostage takers are still angry. But the anger is less focused. Some of it is being directed at members of Congress, who had two years with a majority in both houses when they could have done something about the Bush tax cuts. And as with any form of energy, when anger is diffused it loses strength.
Those who believe the President did what he had to do, who believe that unemployment benefits and tax cuts for the working class couldn’t be risked, are beginning to speak up instead of quietly fuming in resentment. And they have found some common ground with the angry left in their admiration of Bernie Sanders’ heroic – though entirely symbolic – filibuster. And they are watching out of the corner of their eyes as House and Senate leaders quietly go to work to make sure that the President’s bill will be passed, or maybe something even better.
And through it all the real base of the Democratic Party has been simply been going on about their lives. Getting up for work every day, or getting up to look for work. Shopping for holiday gifts, or explaining to the children why there won’t be many gifts this holiday. Grocery shopping, or visiting the local food bank. Putting a little gas in the car, replacing lost mittens and scarves, sitting for hours in an emergency room because they don’t have insurance. Counting down the days until the foreclosure sale, or sucking up to the boss one more time, because they can’t afford to lose this job. And occasionally catching the news that “Obama is losing his base” and wondering who the hell the base is, if not them.
The Democratic Party will survive. President Obama will survive. We will come together to work for his reelection, and for the reelection of those members of Congress who should have extended unemployment benefits, passed the DREAM Act, repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and ended millionaire tax cuts before the mid-terms. The Democratic party will continue to refuse to adopt the lock-step tactics of the GOP, and will continue to fight a battle between high principles and bread and butter issues. We are by nature a diverse group, but also a tolerant and forgiving group. And we WILL survive.