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The SEVERE problem with relying only on the "base" in elections:

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RBInMaine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 01:14 PM
Original message
The SEVERE problem with relying only on the "base" in elections:
It is very important to activate the base, but you run serious risk when you rely only on the "base." This has been a major Dem/Progressive problem. To win NATIONALLY (and in many smaller races) you need a foundation but also EXPANSION into swing voter territory. Yes, Obama in 08 had the base revved up especially after 8 long years of Bush. BUT, they WON because they won the Indy vote, and that is the plain truth. In many races, the SWING voters are just that: they swing the election. Srong NATIONAL parties are DOOMED if they are narrow ideologically and rely only on the "base." Independents are the plurality in the nation. You have to win them, and even cut into some of the opponents' territory.

2 Cases In Point From Maine: In '06 a VERY liberal Kucinich supporter, Jean Hay Bright, BARELY won her primary, and then spent her last Saturday before the election at a peace rally. I think she had that "base" pretty much locked up. I had personally urged her to develop a message that could appeal to independents. She replied to me personally by email saying she would never do that. She was crushed, even though she did win her hard core far left "base." In 08 Tom Allen ran for Senate, sewed up his "base" in the 1st Maine District, but his campaign in the more moderate/conservative 2nd district was horrid. This guy from the very liberal Portland area, a 10-year congressman, got only 41% of the general election vote in a state that voted for Obama by 58%. He should have been able to at least pull 47%. Tom's courted only the "base" liberals, and that is about all he got.

Some races do rely more heavily on the "base," (i.e. certain districts, special elections etc.) but to win, you often have to both govern and appeal beyond the "base." That is pure realiy.
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Craftsman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 01:18 PM
Response to Original message
1. In MA there are a lot of independents
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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
2. The real base knows that too
And consistently shows up - it does not abandon the party for not rewarding them as to their individual desires. This is politics and we can't get what we want or demand it. Once governing, the real opposition is still there and has power. So your base has to be the people who steadily stay on and support and work with you to get what you can while in power.
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anonymous171 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 01:23 PM
Response to Original message
3. What we need to do is shift the center to the left.
Independents and moderates are generally idiots who are frightened of political extremes. The only way to make them go left is to shift the political spectrum way leftward, so that the center is farther left. We need a leftist Ronald Reagan.
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OHdem10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
4. It should not be either or. You cannot win without your base.
Independents are just that Independents. Therefore they
are not dependable voters. These are a lot of the people
who do not vote. If the base is not excited and ready to
vote, the Independents probably do not even know there
is an election.

Trying to play to Independents is like playing to a mirage.
Independents are people who were once Democrats or Republicans.
Some are people who have an aversion to joining a party.
Others simply do not like the beliefs of left or of the Right.
(Primarily the cultural beliefs turn them off).
Recent example: The Terri Schiavo Case was such a turn off
that this was the beginning of the GOP's fall from Grace, so
to speak. Their polls began to turn downward and never stopped.
Each side can overdo it with the cultural issues. Independents
for the most part would be just as happy if these issues
were never discussed. Independents either lean left or lean right.
There is not some mythical group of people who sitting in
the middle someplace having profound thoughts about this country.
Lou Dobbs is a right leaning Independent who has broken the mold
and takes stands. This is not the typical Independent. How
many people on this very sight have decided their best means
of coping with the situation is to change to Independent. They
do not have to be so emotionally drained from disappointment.
The waitress where you stop for coffee has never seen the value
of being in a political party. This is another type of Independent.

The Media uses the term Independents with an agenda. Watch
and listen. The Independents will not like this. The Independents
will get upset. The Media have this pipe dream of the
country joining hands and singing "cum by ya". A dream of
all us Dems and Republicans living harmoniously --no conflict.
all bipartisanship. Playing in sand box and no fighting.
They missed something in their education. Politics is
an honorable process. Hey, we would never have had our Constitution
without hard fought political battles. Politics brought us
our Country as we know it. Todays Journalists hear "spin"
and call this politics, giving Politics a bad name. They
could do the country much good if when Dems or Repubs are
spinning, call it that. "Hey, America, he/she is spinning
you." Further, they use "Independents" to try to reign in the \
parties.---You know the game, Those mystical "Independents"
will not like it.

Our Party tries to use it to move us to the Right and
pretty much they are accomplishing their goal. If you
think this is a good thing, then by all means ignore
the base and play to those Independents. Hope you can
find them.

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RBInMaine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. But in BIG elections with broad electorates, you CAN'T win without indies and mods. Sorry, but that
is just the hard truth. I am not saying discount the base, just that you can't ONLY court the base these days. You need to expand out.
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ClassWarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 02:05 PM
Response to Original message
5. It's not a matter of "relying" on anyone. It's a matter of acting on progressive values.
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 02:06 PM by ClassWarrior
No Center, No Centrists
By George Lakoff
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor

Wednesday 15 August 2007

"Centrism" is the creation of an inaccurate, self-serving metaphor, and it is time to bury it.

There is no left-to-right linear spectrum in the American political life. There are two systems of values and modes of thought - call them progressive and conservative (or nurturant and strict, as I have). There are total progressives, who use a progressive mode of thought on all issues. And total conservatives. And there are lots of folks who are what I've called "biconceptuals": progressive on certain issue areas and conservative on others. But they don't form a linear scale. They are all over the place: progressive on domestic policy, conservative on foreign policy; conservative on economic policy, progressive on foreign policy and social issues; conservative on religion, but progressive on social issues and foreign policy, and on and on. No linear scale. No single set of values defining a "center." Indeed, many such folks are not moderate in their views; they can be quite passionate about both their progressive and conservative views.

Barack Obama has it right: Get rid of the very idea of the right and the left and the center. American ideas are fundamentally progressive ideas - the ideas on which this country was founded and which carry forth that spirit. Progressives care about people and the earth, and act with responsibility and strength on that care...


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Go2Peace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 02:47 PM
Response to Original message
6. Oh, yea, just like neo con ideology, just keep believing what never works
Centrism looks good, because in the very short term a few elections can be won, but in the long term it ends up watering down the principles of the party.

People follow leadership. Hopefully someday the democratic party will realize that they just need to come out as strong progressive populists and LEAD. Most of the population are like Sheep, they follow, even more so someone with good ideas! Learn Social movement Psychology 101
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 02:56 PM
Response to Original message
7. In "purple" states, the progressive base is essential to turning out the discouraged Dem voter.
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 03:04 PM by leveymg
Democrats don't win elections in purple toss-up states, like VA, without both. What happened earlier this year in the disastrous VA election for governor is that progressive party activists became disillusioned. The candidate was too far to the Right, and there was massive dissatisfaction with the party's handling of national issues, particularly HCR. While most of the party activists voted, we just didn't work hard enough to turn out disaffected Democrats, poor people and minorities. It was this latter group that didn't turn out to vote for Craig Deeds, the Blue Dog candidate. Obama won VA 53/46. Less than a year later, Deeds lost 60/40. That was a loss of nearly historical dimensions. The difference was segments of the Democratic constituency -- amounting to about 400,000 votes -- stayed home, while the GOP turned out in about the same numbers as they had in the '08 Presidential race.

The GOP has done one smart thing. They've kept their message consistent and their base mobilized. Once they got to Washington, Democrats lost sight of progressive issues and Center-Left campaign promises, and have governed from the Center-Right. This has had a devastating impact on morale among the rank and file party workers, and turned off disaffected Democratic voters, as well. You just don't win elections that way.
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