Friday :: May 9, 2008

Broad and Squishy

by Turkana

Chris Bowers offers exactly what Barack Obama doesn't need: a vision and description of the Obama movement that is guaranteed to alienate exactly those voters Obama now needs to seduce. This is painful.

Cultural Shift: Out with Bubbas, up with Creatives: There should be a major cultural shift in the party, where the southern Dems and Liebercrat elite will be largely replaced by rising creative class types.

And he then goes on to describe Obama in the precise manner the Republicans will want him described- as an elitist yuppie. Bowers seems to think this is a good thing. The word "myopia" comes to mind. So does the word "solipsistic."

Culturally, the Democratic Party will feel pretty normal to netroots types. It will consistently send out cultural signals designed to appeal primarily to the creative class instead of rich donors and the white working class.

The problem being, of course, that we netroots types are very much irrelevant, while the white working class remains the swing vote that will decide the election. We vote Democratic. Our earlier iteration enthusiastically voted for Dukakis, who was exactly the type of candidate Bowers is describing. The white working class didn't vote for Dukakis. This year's election will be decided in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, and Florida. I want Bowers to explain how the so-called creative class carries those states. The self-abosrption of this type of thinking is truly astonishing.

Policy Shift: Out with the DLC, up with technocratic wonks. My sense of Obama and his policy team is overwhelmingly one of technocratic, generally less overtly ideological professional policy types.

Funny thing: non-ideological types were pretty much the basis of the DLC. Obama's purple America schtick is more similar to Bill Clinton's 1992 schtick than is Hillary Clinton's current schtick. And non-netroots (the uncreative class?) Edwards fans, in particular, don't find much comfort in any of those schticks. But Edwards wasn't able to raise the kind of money that would have made his candidacy viable, so neither his message nor the non-netroots people to whom he appealed matter. We'll have a lot of fun winning without them.

It will all be very oriented toward think-tank and academic types, and be reminiscent of policy making in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. A sort of "technocratic liberalism" that will be less infuriating than DLC style governance, but still not overtly leftist.

The Best and the Brightest, anyone? Less infuriating than the DLC but not overtly leftist? In other words, a kinder, gentler DLC? Making the Democratic Party safe for a new flavor of centrism? Not that we Old School Liberals matter, but this is exactly what we fear, and what we have criticized both Clinton and Obama for being: safe, centrist, incrementalists. Apparently, the change will not be in the politics, but in its acceptance by the once liberal blogosphere.

Coalition reorganization: Out with party silos, in with squishy goo-goos. In addition to a shift in culture and policy focus, I also expect a different approach to coalition building.

Which then proceeds to apparently include some fun sounding gibberish. I like and respect Bowers, but this post is a jaw-dropper.

We will see lots of emphasis on non-partisanship, ethics reform, election reform instead of on, say, placating labor unions, environment groups, and the LGBT community by throwing each of these groups a policy bone or two. Now, the focus will be on broad, squishy fixes that are designed to appeal to several groups at once.

Um. Yeah. Because placating labor, enviros, and the LGBT community is a bad thing. I agree that throwing them the occasional bone was not a good thing, but that's because they need and deserve much more than that. Nothing squishy. Nothing broad. Very specific fixes that have to do with things like economic justice, saving the planet from being rendered uninhabitable, and basic human rights. This actually gets to the appeal of Hillary Clinton, who is, like Al Gore, a hardcore wonk. Try telling union voters that there won't be a targeted focus on workers' rights. Try telling environmentalists that stopping old growth clearcutting and coastal oil drilling, and making those responsible for creating then help bear the burden of cleaning up Superfund sites, and banning the use of the specific toxics that are poisoning our air, water, and planet aren't broad or squishy enough. And I won't even begin to address the trepidation Obama's post-partisanship instilled in many LGBTs, oh, back around the South Carolina primary.

Overall, instead feeling like Blue Dogs, Joe Lieberman and media pundits are running the party, it should feel kind of like PIRG, but a bit more right-wing, academic and well-to-do.

Right wing, academic, and well-to-do? Isn't that exactly to whom Lieberman appeals? Doesn't that pretty well define the corporate media punditocracy?

If Bowers intended to explain exactly how the Republicans should run against Obama, he couldn't have done a better job. Paint Obama as an elitist, and you scare away the moderates. Paint him as also too broad and squishy, and you scare away the liberals. Bowers seems to think the blogosphere is the world. He seems to think everyone lives like us and enjoys our advantages. I'm going to assume he's wrong. I'm going to assume Obama has no intention of trying to focus his appeal to such a narrow demographic. I'm going to assume Obama is smart enough to know he now has to broaden his appeal, bring on his wonk, and convince those who are suffering from the Bush economy, the Bush rapaciousness, and the Bush divisiveness that he is going to be focused, tough, and idealistic. People don't hope for broad and squishy emotionally detached technocrats. They hope for smart, passionate people who are going to develop concrete policies that address specific needs and get them enacted.

Turkana :: 9:19 AM :: Comments (120) :: Digg It!