Last evening, whilst supping on outstanding Egyptian fare, the Palace was informed that long-time Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) had just lost a primary challenge to some teabagger named Richard Mourdock. The fallen Lugar had been tied for the longest-serving Republican in the Senate with Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.
There are two reasons I am informing loyal readers about this particular turn of events: one serious, and one hilarious. First the fun.
Mourdock was backed by the usual troops of right-wing apes, like the NRA and the Club for Growth. But it was a comment by Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth, that nearly had me choking on my cous-cous:
“Richard Mourdock’s victory truly sends a message to the liberals in the Republican Party: voters are rejecting the policies that led to record debt and diminished economic freedom, and they will continue to be rejected in elections throughout America.”
That’s not a misprint: Mr. Chocola thinks that there are liberals in the Republican Party! Bwahahahaha! I hate to break it to him, but one can count on one hand the liberals in the Democratic Party. And there are exactly zero liberals in the Democratic Party leadership: those @$$holes are to the right of poor Senator Lugar! OMFG LMAO. Lookie:
Obama, whose friendship with Lugar was regularly used against the senator, expressed regret that his “friend” had lost.
Barack Obama, of course, is a conservative—just like his “friend” Senator Lugar.
Now for the serious part. The same WaPo article where we see Mr. Chocola’s fevered derangement on full display notes the following:
[I]n 2010, tea party candidates upended establishment favorites in Senate races in Colorado, Delaware and Nevada, and went on to lose all three races in the general election.
There is much for the left to learn from these lessons. Unfortunately, the left will probably learn exactly nothing (unless we redefine “learn” to mean “keep doing exactly the same things over and over and hoping for a different result”). But I will spell a few things out anyway.
Primaries matter. Even if a progressive primary challenger ultimately loses to the corrupt, corporate, conservative Democrat, it forces the corrupt, corporate, conservative Democrat Party leadership to spend money defending what they believed was a safe seat—thus disempowering, however slightly, the very factions who are the source of the rot.
The left is not a credible threat—yet. The teabaggers present a serious, credible threat to the Republican Party’s status quo. Teabaggers are well aware that even when they throw elections to the dreaded Democrats, the net effect is that the Republican Party takes their issues seriously. There is literally no price to pay for Democratic candidates ignoring, marginalizing and mocking liberals. Liberals can be called ungrateful fucking retarded drug addicts with impugnity, because liberals fall for the same trick every. single. time. Better vote for the corrupt, corporate, conservative Democrat! Otherwise OMFG Michelle Bachmann! Until that dynamic changes, the Democratic party will continue on its ever-rightward trajectory. The fact is that we need the Democratic Party leadership to be more afraid of losing a seat to a Michelle Bachmann than we are.
It’s not just teabaggers who make such excellent use of teabagger tactics. As I pointed out here, there is another battlefield where conservative corpses lie: gay rights. (Notwithstanding North Carolina’s flaming asshattery yesterday.)
The factors that led to meaningful victories at the federal level are many and complex, but it would be foolish in the extreme to ignore the tactics that ultimately proved successful in pressuring Democrats, including Obama, to deliver for that constituency. Here’s [Dan] Savage:
Well, I think my feelings began to evolve after the midterms in 2010. I think the Democrats saw the writing on the wall, with the percentage of the gay vote going to Republicans [doubling] to 30 percent; donations from gays — gay groups, gay orgs, gay people — to Democrats plummeting; that they realized they could no longer just fob us off with speeches and the occasional appearance with the Human Rights Campaign — that they had to deliver. It wasn’t until after that, that we got “don’t ask, don’t tell” [effectively ended], that they stopped the DOMA appeal. Anyone that argues that this was the plan all along, to pass the DADT repeal at the 11th hour in a lame duck session, a hail-mary pass thrown by Joe fucking Lieberman, is an apologist and an idiot. But we got those things because we began to push back and play hardball.
Let us ponder this for a moment: in the 2010 midterms, the percentage of the gay vote going to Republicans doubled, to 30%, and donations to Democrats, who talked a good game but did not deliver, dried up. In case you have been in a coma for a few years, let me take this opportunity to remind you that the national Republican platform (pdf) is explicitly anti-gay marriage:
Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives.
The national Republican platform (pdf) also states, flat-out, that gays and lesbians should not serve in the military:
To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that Americaís Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.
And yet, after the Democrats lost the House in the 2010 midterms, DADT (“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which precludes gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military) was repealed, and the Obama administration stopped pressing the federal appeal in support of DOMA (“Defense Of Marriage Act,” which bars same-sex marriage recognition at the federal level). Let’s see: Democrats lose funding and elections, as a result of a backlash from their gay and lesbian constituents whose votes they have long taken for granted without representing their interests in any meaningful way. That gay and lesbian constituency voted for Republicans, who certainly would do nothing to advance their interests and would in fact work against them. The Democrats got the message loud and clear: represent our interests, or lose, motherfuckers.
Again, here’s Savage:
And the gay vote is bigger than the Jewish vote. It’s bigger than the Miami-Cuban vote. And Jews and Miami Cubans get everything they want. Tremendously powerful blocs. And it was after the November 2010 midterms that we suddenly, in the eyes of the Democrats, overnight morphed into Jewish Miami-Cuban cocksuckers who couldn’t be taken for granted anymore.
I don’t doubt we wouldn’t have seen these things, that these things would not have been delivered, if we didn’t make it clear there would be a price to pay if they weren’t.
It’s a scary prospect. I realize that. I do not want my country to descend into a Dickensian nightmare any more than you do. If there were any other way leftward, I would advocate for it.
As far as I can tell, there is not.
(Liberals in the Republican Party! Bwahahahahaha!)