You're Very Stupid; Now Vote for Me.

Yesterday, I mentioned that President Obama was launching a campaign to get the youth vote reenergized for the midterm elections. Well, he started with a conference call yesterday with college media, the audio and transcript of which is here.

Reading/listening to it, the first thing one notes is how earnest and engaged the young journalists on the call are. Which is what makes this admonishment from Obama, as part of his answer as to why he chose Wisconsin as a stop for his GOTV tour, even more contemptible:
Now, I've been in office for two years; we've been in the midst of this big financial crisis. I've been having all these fights with the Republicans to make progress on a whole bunch of these issues. And during that time, naturally, some of the excitement and enthusiasm started to drain away because people felt like, gosh, all we're reading about are constant arguments in Washington and things haven't changed as much as we would like as quickly as we'd like — even though the health care bill got passed, and financial regulatory bill got passed, and we've brought an end to our combat mission in Iraq. But still it seems as if a lot of the old politics is still operating in Washington.

And what I want to do is just to go speak to young people directly and remind them of what I said during the campaign, which was change is always hard in this country. It doesn't happen overnight. You take two steps forward, you take one step back. This is a big, complicated democracy. It's contentious. It's not always fun and games. A lot of times, to bring about big changes like, for example, in our energy policy, you're taking on a lot of special interests — the oil companies and utilities. And some of them may not want to see the kinds of changes that would lead to a strong green economy.

And the point is, though, you can't sit it out. You can't suddenly just check in once every 10 years or so, on an exciting presidential election, and then not pay attention during big midterm elections where we've got a real big choice between Democrats and Republicans.

…And so even though this may not be as exciting as a presidential election, it's going to make a huge difference in terms of whether we're going to be able to move our agenda forward over the next couple of years.

And I just want to remind young people, they've got to get reengaged in this process. And they're going to have to vote in these midterms elections. You've got to take the time to find out where does your congressional candidate stand on various issues, where does your Senate candidate stand on various issues and make an educated decision and participate in this process — because democracy is never a one-and-done proposition. It's something that requires sustained engagement and sustained involvement. And I just want to remind everybody of that.
That is some condescending shit, right there.

Young people are not disengaging from politics because it's "not exciting" or "not fun," or because they don't understand the gravity of elections, or because they're suffering from the misapprehension that politics is easy.

They're disengaging from politics for the same reasons that older people are: Because they're disillusioned. Because they've been betrayed.

Young people aren't stupid. Telling them their "enthusiasm drained away" because of all the fighting with Republicans doesn't make it so. (Try: Because of all the capitulation to conservative policies.) Telling them "Politics is not always fun and games," as if they're fucking dipshits who don't understand that our democracy is "big and complicated" doesn't change the fact that people are pissed because they know what you're doing and don't like it, not because they're clueless rubes with sponges in their brainpans designed to soak up patronizing rhetoric.

The Obama administration continues to act mystified by the proposition that progressives could have anything less than undiluted enthusiasm for their agenda and accomplishments, despite the fact that they are continuing many of the Bush administration policies progressives explicitly rejected. (No less after campaigning on a message of "hope and change.") And their official response continues to be berating disgruntled progressives for being too goddamn stupid to understand the sophisticated game of twelve-dimensional chess being played, and too goddamn ungrateful to appreciate everything being done for us.

Obama campaigned on the promise to bring back accountability to Washington, but he refuses to even entertain the possibility that his administration is accountable for the endemic disappointment among the voters who helped elect him.

Peter Daou sums it up thus: It's the moral authority, stupid.
The astounding collapse of Democrats and the rightwing resurgence of 2009 and 2010 is a direct result of the squandered moral authority of Barack Obama and Democratic leaders. I say "squandered" because it is something Obama possessed during the campaign and something Democrats prioritized as the antidote to Bush and Cheney's radicalism.

Pundits put forth myriad reasons to explain the GOP wave (jobs and the economy topping the list), but they invariably overlook the biggest one: that Obama and Democrats have undermined their own moral authority by continuing some of Bush's most egregious policies.

...Everything flows from the public’s belief that you stand for something.
He adds: "From gay rights to executive power to war to the environment, the left increasingly believes the Obama White House lacks the moral courage to undo Bush's radicalism. If anything, the Aulaqi case is an indication Obama will go further than Bush to 'prove' his strength."

Dude, it's not us; it's you.

And berating us as stupid ingrates, or casting us as naïve simpletons, or accusing of us losing interest in anything that isn't "fun," or whatever other defensive approach that deflects back onto us the sole responsibility for this yawning chasm of enthusiasm, isn't helping. Put down the shovel.

You're not entitled to our support. You have to earn it.

And if you don't understand how failing to vociferously champion the repeal of DADT, and asserting "that presidential assassination orders of American citizens should be treated as a state secret, and thus not reviewable by any court anywhere," and erasing choice from the party platform, and utterly failing to defend Roe for years, as but a few examples, aren't the sorts of policies that earn progressives' votes, then you've really got some nerve implying we're the daft ones who don't understand how politics works.

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