by dj moonbat
Yuval's post below, on how big the Dems' "tent" should be, along with Daniel Maskit's point in comments that the Dems risk becoming even less defined, reminded me of a post I made back in January 2004, "The Long View." Think of it either as sour grapes ("Ah, I didn't really want to win the 2004 election that bad anyway"), or perhaps as an opportunity to realize that we face what Homer Simpson once called a "crisatunity."
Either way, I think the larger point--that when we try to calibrate our message to eke out narrow wins over rabid ideologues, we do so at the risk of losing not only those individual elections, but our entire country--is one that we should take very, very seriously:
The "left" in America finds itself in a bad spot. The right-wing gang running the country has the ship of state hurtling toward ruin. They occupy all three branches of the government. And they play dirty.
I think we'll win this next presidential election. I even feel better about our chances than most; I think that America by November will be so disgusted by the lies, incompetence, and far-right ideology that our nominee may even win with a state to spare.
But so what? We will see precisely zero movement toward hauling this country back toward the center; Congress simply won't let it happen, and the smart money says that our new President won't even risk the political capital of making a serious try. Even if our nominee occupies the Oval Office for eight years, it's simply an eight year hiatus for the Republican project to roll back the New Deal.
Bill Clinton was the most formidable politician in a generation; in terms of effecting a left/center policy, he wasn't able to accomplish much. I don't mean to say that he was ineffectual, but he was forced to stick with an agenda that would pass the Republicans in Congress.
Even when the Dems owned the Congress at the beginning of Clinton's term, the push for health care died an ugly death. From then on, as control of the legislature slipped out of Democratic hands, whatever big policy shifts took place under Clinton were DLC-style "centrist" accommodations with Gingrich, Lott, DeLay et al.
At best, this scenario is what we can anticipate: Eight years of trying to stop the bleeding. Eight years of trying to reach reasonable compromises with unreasonable people.
The question I have been wrestling with recently is this: Might America be better off if, instead of the Dems momentarily slowing her slide toward a second Gilded Age, she finally hits rock bottom?
It's hard to think long-term when the short-term is so offensive to our sensibilities. Bush is, indeed, the worst President ever; the desire to be rid of him is perfectly understandable. But if we win this election, another "leader" who can speak to the dittoheads will top the GOP ticket in four years. And the process of dismantling all traces of a social safety net will resume.
Apparently, America has completely forgotten the Great Depression. That cataclysm jolted America into doing something to make sure that capitalism was forced to attend to the needs of its workers. I've always thought that the New Deal's reforms were a much-needed buffer against capitalism's excesses. The people running the GOP, however, think that the New Deal needs to be undone, in the interest of eradicating any taint of socialism.
Of course, the New Deal is not the GOP's only axe to grind. They also have real problems with the Civil Rights movement, with environmental regulation, with women's liberation, and with secularism. They will erode the progress that America has made on these fronts any time they see a chance.
That's what makes the GOP so successful. They never stop pushing a right-wing agenda to bring America closer to its exploitative roots.
The left, on the other hand, seems to have given up on having an active agenda. We have become timid; rather than try to pull the country leftward, we now settle for slowing our opponents' progress to the right. We think of an eight-year hiatus as a victory in itself, even though any chance to progressivize the nation will be lost.
Maybe we need another big collapse of the American system to remind people that the left wing exists for a reason. Certainly nobody is pushing left-wing issues in any meaningful way right now, and we are as close to calamity now as we have been in decaces. Maybe only a horrific failure of government, under GOP watch, can remind people that we tried their way before, and it didn't work.
Please, somebody reassure me that we can win this battle, and still somehow convince America to summon the courage to get back to fighting the war.
So, since we have no choice to make the best of a (really) bad situation, is it possible that the best option lies in yet another effort to establish an identity as the less-conservative party?