yeah right (image: Cornell University Library/flickr)

One of the most appealing things about being a liberal is that, in general, one is allowed to think for oneself.  Unfortunately, such flexibility ends up being not so wonderful when it comes to electoral politics in our warped, money-driven system.  Actual liberals, who could be counted on two hands in the congress, are always in danger of being swamped under a tsunami of money (see Grayson, Alan), and “centrist” Democrats (see Obama, Barack) tend to offer little or no reason for anyone to vote for them.

Just the fact that the 2012 elections are going to be close is a depressing illustration of this.  Though Mitt Romney is a colorless plutocrat disliked by nearly everyone, including Republicans, and offers nothing but a more extreme version of the program of the Worst President in American History, he still might plausibly win.  Though his party is busily driving away women, public servants, gays, environmentalists, civil libertarians, blacks, Latinos, the poor, the middle class, union members, etc., Obama and the Democrats have done little or nothing to woo these groups, and certainly isn’t promising them much of anything in a second term.

Although Dick Cheney just told a Wyoming audience that Obama has been an “unmitigated disaster” for America, and he would know about those, it seems obvious that his spanking new heart wasn’t in it.  If Obama actually had been a disaster for everything Cheney holds dear, he would win in a walk.  Obama is vulnerable precisely because Dick Cheney is still running around loose, looting people for their organs, rather than siting in a jail cell.

The fact is that the hypothetical and imaginary Obama Republicans are feverishly running against would have been a much more successful President.  Every time Obama “defends” himself by helpfully pointing out that he has, say, increased gun rights, lowered taxes, cut government spending or what have you, another liberal decides not to bother voting.

Republicans, on the other hand, suffer no such malaise among their base, despite the unpopularity and proven failure of their agenda.  Their voters are committed (or, ought to be), to their warped ideas, which if anything have gotten even crazier since 2008.  Worse, Obama has legitimized many of their nonsensical notions while discrediting liberal ones, most notably involving the economy, not just by failing to offer any real alternatives, but by failing to even make the case for them.

The economy remains stalled because Obama adopted the demented mantra that attacking the deficit would somehow help boost job growth.  His signature accomplishment, Obamacare, is unpopular and may be struck down because it wasn’t a “government takeover.”  Deficits remain high because Obama repeatedly wimped out on the Bush tax cuts.   Mistrust in government remains high because Obama failed to prosecute the banksters.   The list of unforced errors, all involving capitulating to Republicans, that led to his current predicament is as lengthy as it infuriating.

Conservatives, as a rule, are gullible nitwits who will happily make voting decisions against all available evidence; liberals, not so much.  As proud members of the reality-based community, we tend to vote based on, well, what actually happened.   Karl Rove recognized this inherent advantage; I’m not sure Obama has.