More on the Return of Terror Politics

September 30, 2014 7:39 a.m.

TPM Reader PT has some thoughts on the less immediately obvious impacts of the return of terror politics …

I certainly see your point on the return of terror politics. I’d like to add a couple of things, though:

First, I think there’s another component of the return of terror politics which you didn’t explicitly mention, which is the effect it has on Democratic Party base voters. Speaking for myself, when the whole “we’re gonna bomb ISIS” thing happened, my own thoughts / feelings were, “Great, here we go again, only this time with Obama instead of Bush.”

I found myself disheartened that we were once again going into an armed conflict in the Middle East which promised (literally!) to be long, which had relatively vague goals, and which left-of-center thought leaders were skeptical of (both the goals and the viability of achieving them with the plans the Obama administration laid out).

The second thing was the administration’s decision to postpone (again) any sort of practical steps on immigration reform. At the time I remember savvy commentators noting, in their savvy way, that this was a good idea because after all the only battleground race in 2014 with a substantial Latino component was Colorado. Well, here we are a few weeks later, poised to lose Colorado. At another level, though, I think that the savvy commentators underestimated the impact this move would have across the entirety of the party’s base. Immigration reform isn’t a “Latino issue” any more than access to birth control is a “women’s issue.” It’s an issue of social justice, which is important to the entirety of the Democratic Party base. As if that wasn’t enough, this is an issue which the administration declared was a priority, something needed to be done, and then — they backed down. For everyone who agreed that this was important, it played out as the administration throwing its base under the bus in pursuit of a transient and unattainable political advantage. Once again, there was the “here we go again” reaction.

Put these two things together — walking away from a party priority and embracing a military conflict in the Middle East — and it’s like we’re back to the bad old days of the 2002-2003 era. I can’t blame the Democratic base for feeling discouraged and not particularly motivated to support these candidates, since that’s the way I feel.

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