The Obama campaign strategy to harness the voters who support the movements generally regarded as the core of the Democratic base, liberals, labor, feminists, environmentalists has been revealed. An unnamed Democratic strategist spilled the beans to David Corn in this article at Mother Jones (the online title was changed and the quote below expanded “for greater clarity” from his magazine article subtitled Can Jim Messina win back Obama’s base and get his boss reelected? about the deputy Chief of Staff under Rahm Emanuel and now campaign manager, in the current issue, July/August 2012).
As the White House’s ambassador to Washington liberals — unions, abortion rights groups, environmental organizations, and general advocacy shops — Messina organized regular Tuesday meetings known as the Common Purpose Project to discuss White House plans, priorities, and messages with these groups. The goal was to coordinate White House strategy with the organizing activities of these outfits. But some of the outside participants considered the meetings mostly sessions where the administration tossed out talking points and marching orders. “Common Purpose was put together to manage the outside groups,” says a Democratic strategist involved in its formation. “To keep them under control as much as possible. It aimed at manipulation more than organizing. Here was Jim Messina, the deputy chief of staff, coming to meetings, and people would be docile because they were getting access to the White House.”*
I inquired as to the identity of this candid strategist, but Mr. Corn has not bothered to acknowledge my request, so I presume this person wishes to remain unidentified. Too bad; now I may have to attempt pestering Mr. Messina or the White House for comment. I imagine I would get the same kind of stock non-response I got to my request for comment on A Case Against Obama Nation. Did people think the Democratic Party gave a damn about the movements comprising its base? No, they are to be managed, manipulated, kept under control as much as possible!
I thank David Corn, as I did in my request for the identity of his source, for providing confirmation from an insider source of this peculiar relationship between the Democratic Party and the movements upon whose votes it depends. Such an attitude has been alleged by many critics of that party, myself included, for many a year, but I do not recall seeing it so callously spelled out by a campaign insider, as if this is just the way the political game is played, people are docile sheep to be led around by their noses while that precious access to power granted to leaders of some groups means little or nothing. I hope this attitude infuriates people as much as it does me. Who the hell do these party strategists like Jim Messina and this unnamed deputy think they are? They know what is best for the sheeple? The Free Soil Party says, throw all the bums out! They are public servants; the public is not supposed to serve them. If the reader wants to be part of a feminist revolution, send the Democrats a message they will never forget! Change your registration, or if you are inspired to, think about running for office! It is never too late to make a statement, and unlike a protest, a large number of changed voter registrations cannot be ignored by the powers that be. That is the writing on the wall, an unmistakable warning that voters are fed up and declaring independence. Many have already declared themselves independent, but that can be ignored, dismissed, or patronized as long as independents are unaffiliated, disorganized, without candidates or a clear vision of alternative possibilities.
Perhaps this is just what one should expect from the Democrats. Jim Messina used to work for Max Baucus, who as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee infamously declared a single payer health plan off the table, and seems to consider him as well as Emanuel mentors. If Obama has pinned his hopes for reelection on the likes of him, what does that say about the President? I ask the reader, how does it feel to have a President who thinks of you as needing to be managed, manipulated, kept under control? It is people in positions of power who need to be kept under control. That is why this republic was founded, and why the Constitution created a system of checks and balances, a government of limited authority. That did not change on September 11, 2001, but the limits on that authority have been stretched so far, they have lost almost all meaning. When the government arrogates the authority to kill or detain anyone indefinitely without charge or trial, the boundaries of a police state have been crossed. Anyone who hoped Obama would live up to his promise to review and repeal unconstitutional expansions of executive power was led around by the nose. That is one issue. I could cite hundreds like that, where what people hoped Obama might do has little or no resemblance to what he has done, which is largely in continuity with the disastrous policies of his predecessors, including George W. Bush. Is this not business and politics as usual? Since when have the interests of the people mattered to the powers that be?
Ms. Magazine may be a prime example of feminist organizations successfully manipulated. It ran a cover story on the War on Women, page 26 in the current issue, spring/summer 2012, by Beth Baker, full of Democratic talking points, but making not one mention of how Democrats have betrayed feminists. The article is not available online at present. For instance, Ms. Baker mentions VAWA is at risk, since the House came up with its own version, which she claims would “deny support to LGBT survivors of domestic violence.” This is the peculiar Democratic twist on the Republican reaction to new language introduced by the Senate which would deny federal funds to domestic violence shelters that want to maintain a female-only policy, at the behest of gay and transgender activists, since gay men and transwomen have been complaining that such shelters have been denying them services. As I understand, there is no problem of lesbian or bisexual females being turned away, so LGBT is at best imprecise, at worst disguising that this language is an attack by Democrats on behalf of non-females on shelters for battered females.
The language I reference in the Senate bill is this section of the law, on page 205 of the Government Printing Office PDF of the bill text:
13 ‘‘(13) CIVIL RIGHTS.—
14 ‘‘(A) NONDISCRIMINATION.—No person in
15 the United States shall, on the basis of actual or
16 perceived race, color, religion, national origin,
17 sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph
18 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual
19 orientation, or disability, be excluded from par-
20 ticipation in, be denied the benefits of, or be sub-
21 jected to discrimination under any program or
22 activity funded in whole or in part with funds
23 made available under the Violence Against
24 Women Act of 1994…
The Republican version took out gender identity and sexual orientation, but did not take out sex, so I do not know what all the fuss is about; a female-only policy will still violate the new law. The explicit language allowing gay men and transwomen to claim the right to access is not in the Republican version, but since a female-only policy excludes both on the basis of sex or perceived sex, shelters for females only will not be getting federal funds either way. I can understand the Democratic Party twisting this as part of the Republican War on Women, but what is up with Ms. Magazine going along with that distortion?
Along similar lines, Ms. Baker also claims the Affordable Care Act “forbids sex discrimination in health insurance pricing,” but as National Organization for Women has pointed out, this is a myth.
This is from the Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill on the passage of that bill over two years ago:
Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill
March 21, 2010
As a longtime proponent of health care reform, I truly wish that the National Organization for Women could join in celebrating the historic passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It pains me to have to stand against what many see as a major achievement. But feminist, progressive principles are in direct conflict with many of the compromises built into and tacked onto this legislation.
The health care reform bill passed by Congress today offers a number of good solutions to our nation’s critical health care problems, but it also fails in many important respects. After a full year of controversy and compromise, the result is a highly flawed, diminished piece of legislation that continues reliance on a failing, profit-driven private insurance system and rewards those who have been abusive of their customers. With more than 45,000 unnecessary deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies each year due to medical bills, this bill is only a timid first step toward meaningful reform.
Fact: The bill contains a sweeping anti-abortion provision. Contrary to the talking points circulated by congressional leaders, the bill passed today ultimately achieves the same outcome as the infamous Stupak-Pitts Amendment, namely the likely elimination of all private as well as public insurance coverage for abortion. It imposes a bizarre requirement on insurance plan enrollees who buy coverage through the health insurance exchanges to write two monthly checks (one for an abortion care rider and one for all other health care). Even employers will have to write two separate checks for each of their employees requesting the abortion rider.
This burdensome, elaborate system must be eliminated. It is there because the Catholic bishops and extremist abortion rights opponents know that it will result in greatly restricting access to abortion care, currently one of the most common medical procedures for women.
Fact: President Obama made an eleventh-hour agreement to issue an executive order lending the weight of his office to the anti-abortion measures included in the bill. This move was designed to appease a handful of anti-choice Democrats who have held up health care reform in an effort to restrict women’s access to abortion. This executive order helps to cement the misconception that the Hyde Amendment is settled law rather than what it really is — an illegitimate tack-on to an annual must-pass appropriations bill. It also sends the outrageous message that it is acceptable to negotiate health care reform on the backs of women.
Fact: The bill permits age-rating, the practice of imposing higher premiums on older people. This practice has a disproportionate impact on women, whose incomes and savings are lower due to a lifetime of systematic wage discrimination.
Fact: The bill also permits gender-rating, the practice of charging women higher premiums simply because they are women. Some are under the mistaken impression that gender-rating has been prohibited, but that is only true in the individual and small-group markets. Larger group plans (more than 100 employees) sold through the exchanges will be permitted to discriminate against women — having an especially harmful impact in workplaces where women predominate.
We know why those gender- and age-rating provisions are in the bill: because insurers insisted on them, as they will generate billions of dollars in profits for the companies. Such discriminatory rating must be completely eliminated.
Why, in a story in Ms. Magazine called Fighting the War on Women, is there no mention of any of this? Could it be that supposedly so independent magazine has been successfully manipulated, controlled, managed? Or has defeating Republicans become so important Democrats can betray feminism with impunity, while feminist leaders and writers disregard their dirty tricks? The larger environmental, peace, labor, and gay rights movement groups ought to ponder the same questions. Obama has caught some flak for his betrayals on those fronts, but it is beneath his attention; he wants the swing voters, so his disgruntled liberal base must go along with political reality; to keep Romney out of office they will have to vote for Obama, no matter what he does to demonstrate his independence from his base. When the choice is between the lesser of two evils, no substance is necessary or even expected; the expressed principles and ideas can be all a sham, just for showing off how different they want people to think they are. I am not saying these guys do not believe what they are saying, but what it means to them may not be what it means to the general public. That is deliberate; they speak in code. The public is not expected to understand the machinations of running the country. I do not refer to legalese, rather key phrases, such as national security, working families, middle class; these are all code phrases that evoke a picture of the American way of life, which is one of the key illusions that allow business to go on as usual.
I will have much more to say on the sorry state of politics soon.