I’m a Massachusetts Liberal, so I know I’m to the left of most electable politicians. It may be the stereotype, but I’m basically the sort who thinks it would be cool to double the tax on gasoline and use the money to build trains powered by unicorns and rainbows. So when moderate electable Democratic politicians disappoint me, nobody’s surprised. They never do what I want.
When they disappoint and infuriate my mother-in-law, that’s news. She’s a middle-of-the-road moderate Democrat who lives in suburban Atlanta. She’s Catholic, married once and still married—to a military man no less—so she’s hardly what you’d call a fire-breathing liberal. She’s been voting for moderate, electable Democrats since JFK, but without being involved in any activism, boat-rocking, or any of that. She’s practically the definition of a mainstream Democratic voter.
And this entirely sensible woman, who appreciates compromise and knows the difficulty of policy-making in Washington, is absolutely furious. She is enraged that the President and the legislature are failing to stand up to defend the social safety net. She’s angry about threats to everything, not just the things that benefit her, like Medicare and Social Security. She wants to know why more people aren’t outraged, aren’t warning the world about what will happen if we cut early-childhood programs, women’s health, nutrition, education, the environment, Medicaid, and food stamps.
She called me on a tear this week, and wanted to know how she could get a message to Washington that she and everyone she knows want Democrats to fight back harder against Tea Party-led destruction of the good that government can do in this country.
Reasonable grown-up Democrats, this is a warning: My mother-in-law is your base. She has been your reliable vote since the middle of the last century. If you’ve moved so far to the right that suburban Atlanta housewives are angry at you, you’re just following the Tea Party over a cliff.