There has been a lot of hand wringing lately over the percieved ineffectiveness of the Democratic Party to live up to the expectations of those that elected it.
This is evident in the dropping poll numbers of democrats across the board.
Many democratic voters from 2008 plan to sit out the election in 2010. I think this is understandable but ultimately ineffective as a strategy for pushing the democratic party left.
That said, I hae few solutions.
My take on the situation is this:
While media has little actual impact on the public in general (actual viewership for cable news is quite low) it does seem to be influential in the Village (insider speak for Washington Establishment media, consultants,etc) Much like CNBC isn't really a finance new network but rather a big talk-show that caters to and is mostly watched by the finance types it covers, the news networks (and talk radio) tend to be exercises in affirmation rather than programs seeking to deliver new information. Unfortunately, the Village seems to be vested in the idea that this is a center-right country and that any loss of support is by definition from the right.
This is despite the clear, factual evidence that most of the loss of support for Democrats across the board is actually from the left. In otherwards, the evidence is that we are in fact a center-left country with a very strong right wind. I count as evidence both polls as well as elections. Take the recent batch of special elections. The media would tell you it was great for Republicans, yet the total number of democrats in Congress increased by 2. And more to the point, the 2 big Republican wins were against Democrats running as centrists
, aka Center-right politicians. And when you look at the democrats who are blocking healthcare reform it's Centrists. What's interesting is that they are also the democrats who are dragging down the generic democrat ballot. In otherwards, while they tack right their poll numbers *drop*.
The goal for progressives isn't to see Republicans win, but rather to see more Progressive senators and congressmen elected to replace the existing ones, Democrat or Republican. The catch 22 for progressive voters is that sitting out the election will likely be seen as a rebuke *from the right*. Firthermore, since Senate terms are 6 years electing a Republican to punish the democrats is not likely to result in a more progressive candidate in the near term because 6 years is.. well the long term in political years.
And while it's easy to be diappointed in Centrist democrats lets not make a false equivelence. Democrats are frustrating because they could do more. 10% unemployment sucks because we could do more. But not doing enough is a very different world from actually making things worse. Health Care will pass and it will be a painful bill that leaves a lot of important changes on the table. But the republicans wouldn't have any reform at all other than deregulation and givng more power to the bad actors.
I agree with Yglesias that the most effective way to improve the responsiveness of our politicians would be to a) elliminate the fillibuster (which was never used to block bills like it is by Republicans and creates a defacto 60% super majority requirement) and b) implement instant run-off voting.