Don’t blame me, I voted for Hillary

Matt Stoller

Matt Stoller at Nekkid Capitalism:

Wisconsin Recap: Thanks to Obama, American Left Lies in Smoldering Wreckage

On Tuesday, Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker humiliated his Democratic opponent, Tom Barrett, by easily turning back a popular recall attempt sponsored by unions and liberal activists. The numbers in the election, which were supposed to be close, were ugly, in favor of the Republican. But this wasn’t just any Republican, Scott Walker is THE Republican, the politician who made his governorship a referendum on a hard right agenda, in a blue state. Walker waged a direct and very public attack on the major constituencies of the Democratic Party, rolling back rights for women, the working class, and the young with measures such as ending collective bargaining for state employees, privatizing state assets, and repealing Wisconson’s equal pay provisions for women. His agenda provoked a fierce reaction – – Wisconsin citizens occupied the Statehouse for months – and then a recall.

Yesterday, Walker’s agenda was ratified by the voters of Wisconsin, the state where public sector unions were born. It’s hard to overstate how bad this is – Wisconsin is now on the road to becoming a right-to-work state, in what is likely to become a right-to-work country. Right-to-work laws are provisions that allow individual employees to withdraw from unions, and they make it much harder for unions to organize.

And the deeper you look into the race, the worse it looks. By calling for a recall instead of a general strike after Walker stripped collective bargaining rights and cut benefits for workers, labor and Democratic leadership in the state diverted and then subverted populist energy, channeling it into an electoral process (at least one union, one very active in the occupation of the Capitol, stood apart from the electoral stupidity). Then, Barrett, an anti-labor centrist, won the Democratic primary by crushing his labor-backed opponent, Kathleen Falk. Finally, Barrett himself was destroyed by Scott Walker, who outspent Barrett 7-1 with corporate money. In other words, first, liberals lost a policy battle, then they failed to strike, then they lost a primary election, then they lost a general election to the most high-profile effective reactionary policy-maker in the country. The conservative beat the moderate who beat the liberal. And had Barrett won, he wouldn’t even have rolled back Walker’s agenda. Somehow, in a no-win electoral situation, Democrats and labor managed to lose as badly as they possibly could.

What happened?

I wish I could say I had a new insight, but it’s basically the same problem I’ve been writing about for years. Put simply, it’s that Obama’s policy framework is now the policy framework of the Democratic Party, liberals, and unionism. Up and down the ticket, Democrats are operating under the shadow of the President, associated with unpopular policies that make the lives of voters worse and show government to be an incompetent, corrupt handmaiden to big business. So they keep losing.

It should be obvious that if you foreclose on your voters, cut their pay, and legalize theft of their wealth by Wall Street oligarchs, they won’t be your voters anymore. Somehow, Democratic activists continue to operate as if policy doesn’t matter to voters, or that policy evaluation is a Chinese menu of different stuff, some of which you like and some of which you don’t, as in “Oh I’ll take a pro-choice moderate, with a bailout, and gay rights. And a Pepsi”. But that’s not how it works – voters’ lives get better, or they don’t. And under Obama, stuff has gotten worse. Obama’s economic policies have made economic inequality sharper than it was under Bush, due to his bailout of banks and concurrent elimination of the main source of wealth of most Americans, home equity. With these policy choices, Obama destroyed the Democratic Party and liberalism – under Obama’s first two years, the fastest growing demographic party label was “former Democrat.” Liberalism demands that people pay for a government, but why should anyone want to pay taxes for the terrible governance Obama has implemented?

We saw Democrats lose elections badly in 2009 and 2010 because of this dynamic. They didn’t self-correct, instead doubling down on Obama. Then, in Illinois and Maryland in April, liberal labor-backed candidates were absolutely wrecked in primaries. I noted at the time in a piece titled “Why Is the Left Slice of the Democrats Getting Crushed?” that this is a consequence of Obama’s policies and a general discrediting of liberalism. In Wisconsin, the stage was much more high-profile, but the dynamics were the same. This quote could just as easily apply to either contest.

“I’m flabbergasted. I’m embarrassed. This is the biggest screw-up electorally that I’ve ever been involved in,” said one progressive activist still sorting through the wreckage.


But it’s not complete to say this is just Obama’s doing. Obama has done everything he’s done with the support of labor leaders, Democratic supportive groups like Moveon, foundations, liberal pundits, African-American church networks, feminist groups, LGBT groups, and technology interests. Any of these could have stopped him by withdrawing support and overtly attacking him, but only the LBGT community fought for their rights. This American labor bureaucracy, which simply does not strike and therefore has no leverage against capital, operates largely as a group of fragmented business unionists.

Matt Stoller was one of the founders of the Hillary-hating, Obama-fluffing Open Left blog. I see that Matthew has parlayed his incompetence as a political analyst into a paying job at the Roosevelt Institute. Since I am still a lowly unpaid blogger I feel absolutely no shame or guilt for savoring the schadenfreude.

Four years ago I was one of the people running around Left Blogistan with my hair on fire, warning people that Barack Obama was going to turn the American left into a smouldering wreck. All I got out of it was burn scars on my head and the dubious honor of being one of the first members of the fastest growing demographic party label.

How bad is Matt’s analysis?

Imagine if the public employee unions in Wisconsin went on strike like he proposes. In the middle of a recession with high unemployment, teachers walk out of their classrooms rather than agree to pay a little more for their medical and pension benefits. How much sympathy would the average voter feel for someone striking over a deal that would still leave them with a better salary and benefit package than the voters themselves?

What Matt Stoller and many of his “creative class” buddies don’t realize is that people just ain’t buying what they’re selling. They are using rhetoric of union “workers” versus greedy “owners” when it’s really civil servants versus the elected representatives of the people.

If you’re making $20,000 a year with shitty benefits, a job that pays $50,000 a year with great benefits sounds pretty damn good. But if you’re being asked to pay higher taxes in order to pay the salary of someone who makes more than twice what you do, it doesn’t sound quite so hot. It’s hard to get the proles to rally to your defense when you claim to be oppressed but you make more than the proles.

When the autoworkers go on strike, you still have a car to drive. If not a single new car or truck rolled off the line for a year most Americans would not be affected, even if the Japanese and Koreans didn’t pick up the slack.

Government provides essential services – in most cases it has a monopoly on them. If government workers go on strike, everyone is affected. When the air traffic controllers (PATCO) went on strike back in 1981 it disrupted air travel around the world.

But just because you’re essential doesn’t mean you are irreplaceable. There are lots of people out there who would love to be teachers, cops and firefighters. If you ever applied for one of those jobs you know what I’m talking about. There are often hundreds of applicants for a handful of openings. Most of those applicants would still be there even if the salary and benefits for those jobs was substantially reduced.

Democrats made a big mistake in drawing a line in the sand over public employees. In their defense, they didn’t have much choice. Public employee unions are a powerful constituency. Therein lies the rub.

Democratic officeholders kowtow to PEU’s because they need their support. But they are using taxpayer money to satisfy the PEU’s demands. It works for a while, but eventually the taxpayers rebel.

It’s not just the Democrats either. Here in California the most powerful PEU is the prison guards. For decades the GOP kept advocating building more and more prisons, and inventing new crimes and increasing penalties for the old ones in order to keep those prisons full.

I’m not blaming the public employees. Individually they are good people doing important work. But you start making a certain amount of money and you get used to it. You even start feeling entitled to it.

Public employees have been mostly immune to economic downturns. They don’t have to worry about layoffs and closings. They usually get annual raises. Over the years the income and benefits disparity between the public and private sector has grown larger and larger.

All around the country we see local, state and federal budget problems. Public employee benefits are no longer a sacred cow:

Pension reform measure watched nationally

San Jose voters Tuesday handed Mayor Chuck Reed a crucial victory with his nationally watched pension reform measure passing by an almost 70 percent margin.

It was a big night for pension reform, with a San Diego measure also winning by a wide margin. City employee unions who argued the measures are illegal were expected to challenge both in court.

But voter approval of San Jose’s Measure B puts Reed and the city in the vanguard of efforts to shrink taxpayer bills for generous government pension plans. Passage also strengthens Reed’s hand as he and his city council allies work to enact the measure’s reforms with a vote next week to reduce pensions for new hires.


The San Jose and San Diego votes drew interest around the country as a gauge of voter support for reforming pensions at the ballot box. Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension reform proposals have gained little headway in the Legislature.

Voters like Howard Delano of Willow Glen were tired of watching their city shovel more and more tax money into government pensions far more generous than their own retirement.

“It’s out of control,” Delano, 60, said after dropping off his ballot. “Nobody gives me a pension.”


Reed proposed Measure B a year ago after his efforts from championing new tax measures to imposing 10 percent pay cuts on city employees failed to erase budgetary red ink that has soaked the city ledger for a decade. Though the city projects a modest $9 million surplus in the upcoming budget, thanks largely to the pay cuts and hundreds of job cuts, a $22.5 million shortfall is expected the year after.

A key deficit driver has been the yearly pension bill that has more than tripled from $73 million to $245 million in a decade, far outpacing the 20 percent revenue growth and gobbling more than a fifth of the city’s general fund. A city audit blamed the rise on a combination of benefit increases, flawed cost assumptions and investment losses.

City audits and news reports also assailed a system in which the city’s police and firefighters take tax-free disability retirements at rates far exceeding those in other big cities.

70% is the kind of number in politics you don’t want to be on the wrong side of. Democrats can dig in their heels and leave this issue for the GOP. Or they can be smart.

BTW – Chuck Reed is a Democrat.


I realize what I am saying will be considered heresy by some people. But dismissing things you don’t like as “right-wing talking points” is stupid.

This entry was posted in 2012 Elections, Barack Obama, Clinton Derangement Syndrome, Disingenuous Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Obamanation, SCOAMF and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Don’t blame me, I voted for Hillary

  1. jinbaltimore says:

    remembering in 08 wanting a bumper sticker that would read “Don’t blame me. I voted H.R.C.”

    • Oswald says:

      They told me if I voted for McCain/Palin it would be an economic disaster.

      They were right.

  2. Matt misses the mark by a MILE!

    Somehow, Democratic activists continue to operate as if policy doesn’t matter to voters,

    Actually, it became very very clear in 2008 that Democrat(ic) activists operate as if the VOTERS don’t matter. Votes don’t count, delegates can be “redistributed” so TBTB get their desired outcome, cheating and fraud are the name of the game.
    Until the Matt’s of the world get THAT through their heads, they will continue to spew nonsense.

    • Oswald says:

      They need to realize that you can’t impose policy, you have to sell it.

      If you can’t sell it, then people don’t want it.

      • Exactly why all of the caterwauling on the left about the Citizen’s United money turns me cold. If the Democrats had good ideas, people would invest in them. Seems simple to me…….

        • myiq2xu says:

          Money was a good thing when Obama was raking it in.

        • WMCB says:

          I consistently confuse the whiners on this, because almost all of them have not thought it through at all. It goes like this:

          So, you think that NO ONE should be allowed to buy airtime, do ads, fund GOTV efforts, print flyers, or engage in any political speech at all, except the campaigns themselves (which still do have direct contribution limits.)?

          Well, no…. but it’s not right that big corporations can do that.

          So which corporations are you going to limit? Because there are a lot of them, on both sides. Including unions, Greenpeace, NPR, MSNBC, the NYT, Google, and

          Okay, then exclude the press and non-profits. They can. Any for-profit corporation can’t!

          Hmmm. Okaaay. Did you know that Citizens United was a non-profit? As is the Heritage Foundation. And TeaParty Express. And Americans For Prosperity. And many religious groups and conservative think tanks.

          NO! None of those groups! They are funded by Big Business!

          Um…..yeah. And many groups like MoveOn and NOW and Emily’s List and ThinkProgress and the Tides Foundation and others are funded by donations from Big Businesses too. They just happen to be businesses whose CEO’s are liberal.


          Inevitably it boils down to the person basically admitting that they want no political speech for those they disagree with, but all the political speech/ad buys/political activity in the world for those they deem “correct”. They don’t really want the money out of politics. They want the money cut off for the other side.

          • myiq2xu says:

            When my daughter was 5 years old she invented a card game she named after herself. The only rule to “Courteney” was “Courteney always wins.”

        • WMCB says:

          I can actually have some respect for those who genuinely want it ALL cut off – publicly funded campaigns, and no outside ad buys etc for ANYONE within X days of an election.

          But most lefties I talk to don’t want that. They just want the other side shut up.

    • WMCB says:

      You said it better, and shorter, than my long screed below.

  3. Oswald says:

    I realize what I am saying will be considered heresy by some people.

    That’s an admission of guilt.

    • DandyTiger says:

      For some reason, I’m enjoying all of this and feel no guilt whatsoever.

      • WMCB says:

        I’m having a grand time with my guilt-free popcorn! 😀

      • angienc says:

        Me too, Dandy. People still trying to pretend that the “other side” is the “bad” one or even the “more evil one” after May 31, 2008 are delusional, stupid or both. I’m long past caring what they think about anything.

  4. WMCB says:

    The first thing I thought of when I saw your headline was “Um… and just WHO ran around with our hair on fire for over a year telling the Matts of the world that Obama was going to destroy the liberal/Dem brand for years to come?”

    First you convince the voting public that something is a good thing, THEN win, and THEN you have to deliver. The Left has spent many years now telling themselves that the entire country is just like them except for some tiny minority of old has-been losers and freaky extremist conservatives. Therefore there is no need to talk nice to or convince those people or deliver them anything at all – we can just steamroll over them. “Everyone hates our ideas, but they are just stupid, and our ideas are better, so….. WE WIN!” is a recipe for electoral disaster.

    You can’t steamroll over half the country. And you certainly can’t steamroll over 70% of the country. Running around the country assuring the middle class and the taxpayers and the average Joe that you speak for them does not magically translate to you actually speaking for them. “Shut up, I am speaking for you, you moron” is more likely to enrage Joe than make him grateful. Yet that is the course of action that Matt and his buddies are bent on pursuing.

    Portraying the PEU’s as being the poor downtrodden who need extra protection is laughable on its face.

    The Democratic party, and the left, is not going to recover until they face the reality that they are being rejected for a reason. Not because voters are dumb, or because they got all dazzled by evil Koch money or Fox News. But because they look around at this country and disagree with the solutions, or lack thereof, that the Left is selling.. Getting rid of Obama isn’t going to fix it, though that’s a good step. Getting rid of the attitudes and hubris that led them to elect Obama is where they need to start.

  5. myiq2xu says:

    She’s right for the wrong reasons:

    Obama is killing the Democratic Party

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      I do love watching progressive’s heads explode on every column she writes, though. I always spend a few minutes stoking the flames over there. You should have seen them go off when I commented that we’d have been much better off with Hillary, but we got Obama, so I’m voting for Romney now. They even pulled the burka card!

  6. Lola-at-Large says:

    OT, but surely headed for the top of the Meme list:

    Joan Walsh, who was never required to register for any draft ever, smears Romney on his deferments. Her readers are already pushing back. Comments are awesome.

    • myiq2xu says:

      The statute of limitations on draft-dodging ran out in 1992

      • Lola-at-Large says:

        That’s the heart of the push back. She was so worried by the pushback that she came into comments to say she was impugning his lies, not his draft dodging. So perfect. I pointed out that she earns the salary of a 1%er to write this tripe. 😀

  7. Lola-at-Large says:

    Matt Stollers psychology is easy enough to read from one salient fact: He turned 18 in 1996, at the height of the Wars on the Clintons. He was too young and ill-informed to tell what was really going on, so he accepted and invited all that hate into his heart, where it lives to this day. That fact represents the boundary of his ability to think creatively. He’s a broken soul and he’s carried his diseased heart Democratic politics.

  8. Lulu says:

    There are also articles saying the Democrats now realize that Obama could loose is also spin. What they are now thinking is that he most probably will loose. And because he has been such an utter disaster in all areas, they are going to try to pin some of it on unions. So unions can join everyone else under the bus. The White House fully instigated and cheered the unions on in their idiocy in Wisconsin and now it is all their fault. Yeah right.

  9. Lola-at-Large says:

    LMAO! From the Stoller thread, QotD!:

    Better tighten that nipple ring.

  10. DandyTiger says:

    I should feel guilty for having so much fun with the Dem party collapsing, but I don’t.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      I don’t either. I do worry that it’s premature to celebrate, but that’s it. I keep celebrating because the noise machine requires it. It’s all about depressing proglodytes and dampening their ability turn out now.

  11. Lola-at-Large says:

    FYI: Stoller also missed the fact that the GLB community is not the only constituency that is successfully challenging Dems. He complete floated over the fact that the gender gap disappeared entirely in 2010. I can’t wait to see the numbers this year.

    • WMCB says:

      Women = NOW and Ms. Magazine to Stoller. All of us actual vaginas out here don’t count. Women can’t speak for women. Only our approved spokespersons can.

  12. myiq2xu says:

    I did want to talk about this:

    Wisconsin is now on the road to becoming a right-to-work state, in what is likely to become a right-to-work country. Right-to-work laws are provisions that allow individual employees to withdraw from unions, and they make it much harder for unions to organize.

    According to Stoller, employees should be required to join unions and their dues should be taken directly from their pay.

    No possibility of abuse there.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Authoritarian much.

    • WMCB says:

      “Much harder” = such draconian provisions as secret ballots and announcing a union vote at least 30 days ahead of time.

      I’m all for workers unionizing if they want to. I am dead set against coercing and forcing them to do so. And frankly, this is not 1935, and the strong-arm tactics come from the union side a hell of a lot more often than they come from the employer side anymore.

      Once again, we are left with the simple reality: Want people to believe your way is better for them? Go fucking convince them. It’s not a hard concept.

  13. HELENK says:

    someone tried to breach the election night computer in San Diego. the system worked and no damage was done

  14. HELENK says:

    cabinet members traveling the country for political reasons.
    Hatch Act

  15. FembotsForObama says:

    WOW – the blame is finally being laid where it is due, at Obama’s feet.

    • cj says:

      I know, shocking. I thought we’d have to wait until he was out of office to hear any of this.

  16. Erica says:

    Here’s an update on write-in candidates for president in California:

    Counties have until July 6 to report the results of write-in votes to the SOS, and the SOS has until July 13th to certify the election. So, sometime between the 6th to the 14th of July, we should see our write in votes showing up on the SOS website.

    • WMCB says:

      Thanks for the update. I’d keep checking if I were you.

      • Erica says:

        You’re welcome. I’m like a dog on a bone with this kind of thing. After what happened in Florida and Michigan, not to mention all the caucus fraud in 2008, no way am I going to let this drop.

  17. threewickets says:

    Here’s breakdown of union contributions to Obama’s campaign.

    Service Employees International Union $84,792,534.00
    United Auto Workers $13,370,148.00
    Service Employees Intl Union Local 1999 $11,280,105.00
    American Fedn of St/Cnty/Munic Employees $6,815,652.00
    American Federation of Teachers $6,022,125.00
    Service Employees International Union $2,671,398.00
    International Assn of Fire Fighters $2,564,769.00
    United Food & Commercial Workers Union $2,034,927.00
    Plumbers/Pipefitters Union $1,575,933.00
    UNITEHERE $1,367,535.00
    Laborers Union $1,247,373.00
    Culinary Workers Union Local 226 $1,188,567.00
    National Education Assn $1,186,929.00
    Teamsters Union $1,029,465.00

  18. foxyladi14 says:

    I’m enjoying all of this 😆

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