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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

 
Translating The Message

by digby

The other day I wrote a post about what would happen if people decided to vote for Republicans to send a message that the Democrats shouldn't take their base for granted. I said this:

Many people believe that the only thing Democrats understand is pain and so the thing that will change this dynamic will be to deliver them a loss of their majority and perhaps the presidency to show the consequences of failure to fulfill the progressive agenda. That certainly sounds right, except you can't ever know exactly what lesson will be taken from this sort of pain and if history is any guide, the likeliest one is the simplest and most obvious: they lost because people preferred what the other side had to offer. Obviously, that's not necessarily the case, but it isn't illogical for them to believe that. And the exit polls or whatever other data may be available rarely clearly show that it was base demobilization that caused a turnover. Often people don't even know why they failed to vote and you can't exit poll those who didn't bother.

More importantly, you have the ongoing, pernicious problem of the conservative Democrats who will always pimp the anti-liberal line and their friends in the media who pull the old "this is a conservative country" narrative off the shelf by reflex.

So Howard Dean goes on Hardball today and points out that today's DFA poll shows that of all the people who voted for both Obama and Brown, three out of five voted for Brown because they had wanted a public option and of the Obama voters who stayed home, 80% wanted a public option.

Here's what followed:

Matthews: There's two facts on the table right now. The Democratic candidate was for the public option. She was very aggressive, very progressive. She was much more progressive than the president. She stuck to the line, "I want an individual mandate and I want a public option." Period. She said it right to the end and never broke from that. So she took the position you're advocating right now. The other guy said I'm going to kill it in its bed. The voters voted for the guy who said he was going to kill it. So the voters had a choice between the public option candidate and kill it and they voted to kill it. So how do you explain that?

Dean: The voters were sending a message to Washington. They asked for change and they haven't gotten change...

Matthews: But she said "I want to give you a public option" and they said no to her...

Dean: They've had a year of dealing with every interst group, the banks ...

Matthews: Governor, you're whistling past the graveyard here. She ran for the public option.

Dean: Our polling shows what it shows.

Matthews: But she's for the public option and got blown away.

Dean: People who are for the public option ...

Matthews: Why didn't they vote for the public option?

Dean: because they wanted to send a message to Washington of real change ...

Matthews: How about voting for a candidate who's more progressive. Wouldn't that have done it?

Dean: You know voters as well as I do and the voters ....

Matthews: I'm just saying that "I'm more progressive than the president, vote for me" and that was Martha Coakley's position and they said no. And the other guy comes along and says, forget about it all, I'm voting to kill it." Ok. He's calling himself Mr 41. This guy, Scott Brown is walking around signing his name, "Scott Brown 41" I'll be the 41st guy who votes for the filibuster.

Dean: There are a lot of people outside Washington who don't thiunk that bill ought to pass because it's too watered down...

Matthews: Not Martha Coakley...she was all the way for a pogressive, public option.

Dean: You're being silly Chris because you know very well what voters do. Voters were sending a message to Washington: we don't want business as usual. That's what they were sending the message about.

Matthews: How do you know that?

Dean: Because we polled

Matthews: But the poll that was taken yesterday, the official poll where people had to go into the booth and vote, they had a choice between a public option candidate and a no candidate. How do you explain that position.

Dean: You can't know what people do in the booth unless you ask them. And we asked them overnight. And we found out that of the Obama supporters who either stayed home or voted for Scott Brown, they overwhlemingly wanted to do more on health care, not less.

matthews: So they were more progressive than the president.

Dean: That's right.

matthews: So on all the issues raised inthe campaign, debt, taxes, the arrogance of the democratic party in Massachusetts, where were the voters?

Dean: the voters were upset by Washington as usual, dealing with special interests, writing a bill that was great for the insurance industry, not doing much about the bankers.

Matthews: That's your position!

Dean: That's not my position that's the voters of Massachusetts.

Matthews: You say the voters of Massachusetts agree with you but they voted republican. Tthat makes no sense.

Dean: It does make sense...

Matthews: You've been in the voting booth. Would you have voted for Scott Brown?

Dean: Of course not.

Matthews: So you rationally would not have voted for the Republican because he's against health care. But you say the voters are irrational. They somehow send smoke signals in their vote. They vote for a conservative Republican who's totally against health care to tell the country they want a progressive health care program. That's crazy.

Are voters crazy? Are voters crazy?

Dean: Chris, there's only one crazy person around here and if I hold up- a mirror you may see him.

Matthews: Voters vote right wing Republican to express progressive values...

[...]

Matthews: Why do you believe that Martha Coakley's defeat meant people wanted a more progressive health care bill?

Dean: I think people are sending a strong message to Washington they want strong leadership, they want real change, and they don't want to accomodate the special intersts. And they think for the last year that the democrats have accomodated special interests. Not just in health care, but in the banking industry and Wall Street, and these other areas as well.

Matthews: So, if you're Scott Brown, and he's listening to this program, and he's learning from you that what he really ought to do is back a public option because people who voted for him were really secretly for the progressive position not for him.

Dean; i'd say you are being silly and you know they're not saying ...

Matthews: Are you saying he should vote for a public option now that he's in the senate?

Dean: You know he's not going to do that. let's be ...

Matthews: Dut you said your polling showed they were for that ...

Dean: Let's be real about this for a minute. the public option is dead this year...

Matthews: But it would be in his political self-interest to vote for the public option you're saying ...

Dean: What I think we ought to do is look forward from this ...

Matthews: But you said the polling said pthe people were for the public option ...

Dean: I said this is silly, we're not getting anywhere. Do we want to move forward ...

Matthews: No you're being silly. You're saying that no matter who wins an election, your argument wins.

Dean: What I'm saying is, we need a health care bill...

Somehow, I don't think Matthews or any other villager was convinced by Dean's argument. They just don't think that way. Therefore, electing a Republican will never result in the political establishment and the media understanding that it was because the Democrat wasn't liberal enough. Best not to get too fine with this stuff and just send them a message they can understand.


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