Death Wish Politics

Digby (taking numbers and quoting from Markos) had a great post over the weekend about the single most urgent topic facing Democrats going into the 2010 elections: the lack of enthusiasm by Democratic voters about voting next year. I have cited some polling and turnout statistics in the past from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, and Digby focused on another polling fact that is as harrowing a number going into an election year as I have seen in a long time:

From the new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll:

We have added a new feature on our weekly national poll -- a gauge of voter intensity. The question offered to respondents is a simple question about their intentions for 2010:

QUESTION: In the 2010 Congressional elections will you definitely vote, probably vote, not likely vote, or definitely will not vote?

Markos writes:
The results were, to put it mildly, shocking:

Voter Intensity: Definitely + Probably Voting/Not Likely + Not Voting
Republican Voters: 81/14
Independent Voters: 65/23
Democratic Voters: 56/40

Two in five Democratic voters either consider themselves unlikely to vote at this point in time, or have already made the firm decision to remove themselves from the 2010 electorate pool. Indeed, Democrats were three times more likely to say that they will "definitely not vote" in 2010 than are Republicans.

The way some Democrats want to respond to numbers like these is pure and simple death wish politics. It's the bizarre inside-the-Beltway centrism that cares more about what corporate lobbyists and CBO scoring than about what anyone who might actually vote thinks: don't anything too tough to Wall Street, don't create jobs because it will add to the deficit, don't put anything into health care reform that voters might actually notice for the next five years, and be "fair" to the poor insurance companies.

The quote of the day that has me gnashing my teeth:

White House health reform czar Nancy-Ann DeParle said the president was moving as quickly as possible. She said that the insurance industry cannot be forced to accept people irrespective of preexisting conditions until everyone is required to have insurance, and that the administration does not want such a requirement until the exchanges are up and running.

Insurance companies have been making enormous profits for decades now by hiking prices through the roof and denying care to sick people, and we are going to worry about being fair to them in the transition to a better health care system? When we are going to mandate that people buy insurance, and subsidize them to do so, after the new system is in place? C'mon now. If the insurance companies have to reduce their profit margins for a few years, I don't think we should be shedding any tears for them.

Democrats have to figure out how to produce real benefits for real people now, not in future years. A new poll out from Democracy Corps nails it: rather than bragging about the signs of progress in the economy when voters don't feel them yet, Democrats need to focus with urgency on jobs, and other tangible benefits voters can see and feel. Trickle-down economics (first get the banks healthy, then eventually everyone will get jobs) and health care reform with benefits kicking in for people in 2014 will make the 2010 elections ugly.

It's time to kill off death wish politics in the Democratic Party.