Togane, Japan
December 31
I'm teaching English in foreign countries as a way to see the world. I lived in Germany for three years and have been in Japan since August of 2011.


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JUNE 11, 2010 7:22AM

You shouldn't have voted for Blanche Lincoln

Rate: 11 Flag

It’s time to kick-off another weekend of political blogging.  I want to start by getting this Blanche Lincoln business out of the way, as while it’s a relatively small story in itself I think it speaks to the larger issue of the divide among democrats so to who the real enemy is.


Blanche Lincoln is a senator from Arkansas, a state where democrats have always needed to be a little more conservative than most in order to get elected.  Blanche Lincoln played the part of “conservadem” quite skillfully, siding with the Democratic Party most of the time but occasionally taking sides against them to boost her conservative credibility.  Last year, when opponents of health care reform were at their most vocal, she decided it would be to her political benefit to play “moderate” and oppose the public option which would have broken the stranglehold of private insurance companies over our health care system but was being characterized by the right as a massive government takeover.  Of course, the fact that she received more than $325,000 in campaign contributions from private health insurance companies might have also influenced her decision.


And so Blanche Lincoln decided to not only vote against the bill, but to join republicans in a filibuster until the public option was removed.  Together with Ben Nelson and Joe-the-cold-blooded-murderer Lieberman, she killed the most important part of health care reform, effectively causing millions of Americans to suffer physical and financial harm that they would not have otherwise had to suffer.


Progressives made the right move and launched a primary challenge against her with candidate Bill Halter, who seemed to be ready and willing to stand up against corporate power.  Halter got a lot of national support and appeared poised to win a victory that would have sent a clear message to the rest of the conservadems, but a slight majority of Arkansas democrats decided that Lincoln was the safer bet to win the general election and keep a ‘D’ in the seat.


Arkansas democrats, you made the wrong choice.  We were going to send a message that you can’t side with the corporations against the public interest and expect to get away with it, but instead you sent the opposite message: Go ahead and sell us out.  We’d still rather have you than a republican.


Too many voters still seem to see things in terms of the same old right vs. left paradigm.  Politics, to many people, is like a team sport.  Their team—whether it’s the democrats or republicans—may make a bad move and piss them off from time to time but when all is said and done what matters most is that their team is winning, that they have the majority.  And so if it looks like Blanche Lincoln stands a better chance of winning in November than Bill Halter, they vote for Blanche Lincoln even if they don’t like her.


But we can’t afford to play that game anymore.  We need to shift the political battlefield, to adopt a new paradigm of corporatists vs. populists.  We need to kick out the corporatists from both parties one at a time with primary challenges and replace them with candidates who pledge not to take donations from Wall Street, giant energy companies, or any other behemoths who profit from our flawed and broken system.  If we lose a couple of seats here and there, so be it.  What’s important is not the short-term victories but sending a message over the long-term that we’re not going to accept compromises that work 5% in our favor and 95% in the corporations’ favor.  Democrats aren’t doing very much with their giant majorities anyway.  They’ll have to lose some seats before they realize that the game has changed and it’s no longer politically feasible to cater exclusively to big corporations and expect to keep their jobs.


I’m not talking about ideological purity tests.  I’m simply talking about insisting on a track record of voting for real change, real reform, real fighting for the public good even if it means losing corporate backing.  Having the support of the establishment should not be enough to win an election anymore—in fact it should work against you.


And to those who would say that following this strategy would be disastrous for democrats, I say to hell with the democrats.  These are critical times we’re living in, with all of the wealth and power being funneled to a small handful of giant companies with only their own selfish interests in mind.  All other battles must be secondary to this one.  I’d rather have an anti-abortion, anti-gay-rights republican as my senator than a pro-choice, pro-gay-rights democrat if the republican refuses to accept corporate money while the democrat is bought by BP.


Whether you’re a democrat or a republican, take a good hard look at the team you’re on and decide if it’s really worth rooting for.  There’s another game going on—one much more important than the culture war—and the vast majority of Americans are all on the same team in this one: the public team.  People like Blanche Lincoln are on the corporate team.  Democrats who voted for her were kicking the ball through our own goal-posts and scoring a point for the other side.


So expect more giveaways to big corporations at the public’s expense now that they’ve demonstrated to politicians that you can do that and suffer no electoral consequences.  Progressives may have give Lincoln a run for her money, but the only thing that matters in politics is the victory.  The message they’ve sent is that in America, you can still sell out your constituents and survive.  At this moment, that’s the worst possible message we could be sending.

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Right on target again, Kemstone. I couldn't agree more, which is why I have gone back to calling myself an Independent. Another excellent writing sample, K.

Good post. I wish there were more anticoporate Republicans. You find them once in a while, like Mike Huckabee, but they're few and far between. Unfortunately, so are Democrats these days.
Kemstone, so eloquent and truthful, all of the things I wanted to say, but was unable! R
Have you found a non corporatist Republican in the last 10-15 years? Do you know of any non corporatist Republicans who will buck their party? Are you aware of any Republicans who would not empower the rest of the lunatics in that party?

Sorry. Like her or not, Blanche is a much better choice than a generic Republican.
There's an undiscovered story going on in Arkansas about the role that Boss Clinton played in screwing the pooch in the election. Halter was up in the last opinion polls by up to 5%, which is at the fringe of error. This no doubt terrified the establishment that saw a lefty winning in the South.

In the last few days there was a massive voter suppression strategy with several (pro-Halter) counties suddenly downsizing the number of polling stations from 17 down to 2, thus making Halter supporters travel many miles to vote, whereas before the polling stations were in their neighborhoods.

And it would be interesting to see if there was any cleansing of voter rolls in pro-Halter areas in the last few days of the election. In any event, the election in Arkansas was not a fair election, and it was systematically skewed in the direction of Blanche Lincoln. The only person with enough knowledge and clout to make this happen was Bill Clinton.

Somewhere in Arkansas there is a very juicy news item for some local investigative reporter waiting to be discovered.
Apparently, Obama and Clinton would prefer a Republican to Halter, because that is what they'll likely get. Halter did better in polls (though not ahead, a win was conceivable) than Lincoln against Boozman among likely fall voters. You'd think that'd be a sign for Obama and Clinton to keep out of the primaries and let nature run its course, but because they are trying to win over the same people that supply the cash flow to Republicans, they figured that backing an anti-union candidate and pretty much seal the deal on a Republican taking the Arkansas Senate seat was better than the option.
Corporatists. Yep, that's the problem. Them, and everyone who falls for their B.S. B.T.C.
OS should have a mechanism for readers to report spam, like the ones on this blog.

I don't know what to think about Lincoln's win. I am a moderate Democrat and have lived in Arkansas. I don't think a progressive has any chance whatsoever of winning in that conservative state. I am not familiar with her record but voting against the public option shouldn't be a litmus test for progressives.
Sorry, folks for the spam attack. We're working on it, I promise you. Thank you always for your patience.

Awesome, awesome post, by the way, Kemstone.
Good call. Too many people see it as a zero-sum game between the two parties and keep voting for the lesser of two evils to keep the greater evil out. That guarantees an evil outcome. It's also a short-term view. Yes, if you break away from the lesser evil to vote for someone you might actually agree with, the greater evil may win this round. But if the lesser evil party looses because they lose votes to the party that you agree with, they just might figure it out after losing enough elections. If not, they deserve to go the way of the Whigs.
Good post. It's terrible that she won. Still we can hope for a silver lining. Pols that get primary challenges often get the message that they can no longer take their base for granted and they fall into line. That is not always the case, but it usually is. Lincoln knows that she could face a primary challenge in the future, and you can bet that Ben Nelson is taking notice.

Primary challenges don't always have to succeed to have the desired effect.
Excellent! I have some suspicions about the outcome of the race and keep wondering why an investigation has not been launched regarding the closing of almost all of the polling places except two. I smell a rat, but apparently I'm the only one who does.
Andy, I hope you're right that the other conservadems will get the message just from the fact that Lincoln was ALMOST defeated, but too often in politics the media decides that everything the winner did was right and everything the loser did was wrong. There was so much talk after the 2008 election about all the brilliant moves Obama made and the terrible moves McCain made, but had McCain won they would have been criticing Obama and praising McCain for the very things they criticized him for (e.g. "Choosing Palin was a brilliant move!") Since Lincoln won, they might be thinking, "I guess killing the public option was the right move."

Fay, I smell a rat too, but politicians see it as political suicide to persue claims of election fraud. They're afraid they'll just be seen as sore losers.
You should maybe invest in a political dictionary if you're going to blog about politics; neither corporatist nor populist mean what you think they mean. No doubt you can get away with it forever, though, in the wasteland of the American public debate, where 'liberal' is allowed to mean all forms of left-wing thought.
Why don't you enlighten me, Noodle? What are "corporatist" and "populist" (and "liberal" for that matter) supposed to mean? And who writes the political dictionary? Not to sound too snarky. I do appreciate constructive criticism but your criticism wasn't constructive at all.
Political scientists collaborate to write political dictionaries, they provide intellectually rigorous consensus definitions. Corporatism is a view of human society that uses the analogy of the interdependent systems of a biological entity; it was a key component of fascism. Populism is a "people vs. elites" form of discourse that is also a key component of fascism; it's how Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh rev up their followers. Liberalism is the body of intellectual thought that arose in the 17th and 18th centuries that privileges individual freedom and development, and informed both the French and American Revolutions. The confusion in American discourse of liberalism with progressivism and the left-wing stems from the moderation of classical liberalism with the social liberalism of such thinkers as T.H. Greene, that emphasises equal opportunity as well as equal rights. This led to policy goals in common with democratic socialists, creating the left of American politics as it exists today. These aren't things I'm making up.

Personally I think having your mistakes called out in public is pretty good constructive criticism; it's all too easy to take a softly-softly approach the way you want to, whereas there's nothing like being caught with your intellectual pants down to make you more vigilant in future.

It's a very common mistake for autodidacts to add an -ist or -ism to whatever root word to make their point; I've done the same thing myself once or twice. The only thing is, most of those words are already taken and have solid definitions attached. You're a good writer, you just need to embrace research and be more intellectually stringent.
Thanks, Noodle. I've been using the terms in the way I hear other bloggers/pundits/talk-show hosts using them. It's amazing how many people mis-use them. I'll try to avoid it in the future, but that leaves me needing other terms for "people who believe corporations should be in control" and "people who believe that most political power should be held by the electorate".
Well, people who approve of the current international economic system, are for multinational corporations and believe everyone benefits most when they're allowed free reign can be broadly referred to as 'neoliberal'. However, corrupt bought-and-paid-for advocacy is so common in US politics, ideological terms are probably inappropriate - they're just self-interested realists. The desire to reign in corporate power for the broader social benefit is social democratic or social liberalism - although it's more than possible for a committed classic liberal, neoliberal or conservative to recognise that corporations are corrupting the electoral process.

The problem with US politics, as I see it, is that both political parties are little more than corporations themselves, in the business of winning power to obtain the benefits of incumbency. Democrats win power by appealing to the desires of particular demographics with promises they have no intent on delivering; Republicans now essentially manufacture their own demographic, by creating outrage through their vast propoganda wing.
That's a very interesting way of looking at it--thinking of the political parties as corporations themselves. I'll have to spend some time considering that, and possibly include the idea in future blog entries.

And again, thanks for the pointers on terminology. You've been very helpful.
i live here in arkansas and i did not vote for that ol hussy and im being nice putting it that way for i can not see any way in any point she has helped this state in any form or fashion
by the way i didnt vote for that ..(beep..beep beep beep) presdient neather im not racest..i just don't care to like any one all the same..