Sunday, April 9, 2006

The Mouse on the Right Asks the Most Important Question

BY THERSITES:

Cartoon by Pat Oliphant

If Democrats regain the House or Senate by standing for nothing, tolerating Vichys and enablers like Lieberman and Landrieu and trying for the "well, they couldn't be worse than the Republicans" voters -- then how, exactly, will they govern?

Answer: poorly, which will let the Republicans regroup and regain control two, four or at most six years later. We have to stand for something if we want more than ephemeral and ultimately irrelevant gains.

In the comments I've copied an excerpt from a previous post ("An Overlong Dissertation on Courage, Strategy, Populism, and Respecting the Base") talking about the debacle that will occur if we win without being prepared to govern, and to govern from the left -- which, after all, is the side the driver's seat is on in America.
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5 comments:

Thersites D. Scott said...

From An Overlong Dissertation:

This site, VichyDems, exists to prod the cowering class in Washington into moving back to the left again, where Democrats historically have found their strength and where they belong. I believe that America flourishes, not when all politicians run to the center, but when conservatives and liberals hold different views and trust our complicated, counterbalanced system of government to convert that tension into constructive energy. There are lots of good reasons -- which I’ve discussed ad nauseum over the past several months -- why moving left again is a good tactic, the most important of which is that it demonstrably wins more elections than unimpassioned, unprincipled centrism does. But most of the Democratic leadership isn’t even willing to engage in that discussion; most of them -- not all, but most -- will pander to us when necessary but make it clear that they do not actually like us and that they never, ever would seriously consider accepting our advice.

Some "liberal" bloggers and commenters (and many, many “concern trolls” who love to give bad advice to the enemy) express "concern" (it's almost always that word, "concern") that targeting and ousting “Vichy” Democrats will cost us seats we need to win back one or both houses of Congress.

My usual response is this: I don’t believe that’s the case, because Joe Lieberman and Henry Cuellar are more trouble than their seats are worth and if we unseated them, the rest of the caucus would sit up, take notice, and start acting cohesively again, which ultimately will win us a lot more seats than we lose.

The Republicans won complete control of government not by running to the center, but by running to the right and persuading the media and the American public to shift right with them. They don’t tolerate defections from the party line; they stick to centrally-distributed talking points and abide by rigid party discipline enforced by a man nicknamed “The Hammer.” They don’t fall silent when discourse turns discordant; they trot out the Big Lie and repeat it so often that it becomes Truth in the same way that big mountains create their own weather. They won by doing the exact opposite of what the DLC crowd preaches we need to do to win.

It’s as if the Democratic leadership doesn’t understand how mirrors work: the key to Republican success wasn’t in the fact that they ran to the right (and that we similarly must shift right if we want to win); it’s in the fact that they ran AWAY from the center -- became more extreme -- and in doing so earned both the support of their base and the trust of centrist voters, who respect people who can articulate and adhere to principles even if they don’t agree with all of them. Copying the Republican formula for success doesn’t mean becoming more conservative [or, I hasten to add, more dishonest], it means becoming more liberal and being proud of it. Articulating, and expecting some reasonable degree of adherence to, a unifying party platform is a good way to articulate principles and win elections, and if that means tossing one or two enablers like Lieberman overboard, good riddance; they're dead weight anyway.

But in addition to the above response, which I believe is true, I have a second reaction to the concern that attacking Vichy Democrats will cost us a potential majority: that until our “leaders” start listening to their constituents and acting like Democrats again, they (and we) don’t deserve to be in power. Until we have our act together and are prepared to govern in a coherent, articulate, unified way, we should stay the hell out of it.

Our nation is facing tremendous problems; only a drastic change in course can possibly reverse them. If we Democrats are not prepared to change America's course, however, then it’s better for the inexorable collapse to occur on the Republicans’ watch than on ours. My preferences, in this order, are: (1) a dialed-in, unified, energized, liberal Democratic Party in power, correcting American's course and restoring her fortunes; (2) a faltering, dissipating, weakening Republican Party in power, living or dying with the consequences of their past actions while real Democrats continue to rebuild our party in the wings; and (3) a faltering, dissipated, weak Democratic Party in power, demonstrating once again to voters that we aren’t ready for prime time and possibly being blamed for a nationwide economic, military and social collapse created by the Republicans but foisted on us.

A lot of intelligent, energetic grassroots activists are working to make sure that (1) above comes true. Most of the Democrats in Congress are working hard to see that (3) above comes true, even though they're too struck with Beltway Blindness to realize that's what they're doing. If they don’t catch a clue and start working with us, (2) above is going to occur again in November, and then either (2) or (3) will occur in 2008. And that’s simply not good enough. Democrats deserve better. America deserves better.

MichaelBains said...

what if we win?

Whoa! That's exactly what they're worried 'bout. They think Bush is right.

Sick sick sick sad folk...

lucretia said...

The situation is eliminating the Bush repressive government taking away one after the other of our intrinsic rights until all are gone.

The vichy Democrats in power will be able to govern much better and roll back all the repressive measures and bring back the state we had when Clinton left. This may not be the liberal and open foreign policy we should expect, but will be much better. Hopefully Dems like Lieberman will not play a big role.

In other words, we'll have some representative government again, without the spying, arresting without charge or attorney, checking our library records, the hateful thug stuff of the rednecks being highlighted, this whole horrid regime has to go if future years are not to be pure hell.

As far as electing Dems in the midterm and 2008 goes, it's an absolute necessity and pickiness is second.

Once in they'll have a leader and will rally in security if they come out with an unusal idea, they won't be standing alone, like now Russ F. is though he probably expected it because they all know each other well and the current abience. I think he expects to pick up bigtime in 2008 with the censure thing.

It has to be recognized these people are not inept. They're holding, they are too cautious which is wrong method, but still they will probably make it. Especially if the midterm gives the Dems the House then if impeachment of Bush and Cheney happens, Pelosi as Speaker becomes President.

Thersites D. Scott said...

Lucretia: But to impeach, we need both houses of Congress, the House to initiate the articles of impeachment and the Senate to actually vote to impeach. And I can name at least five Senate Democrats who would vote "no" on impeachment if it got that far, so we'd need to retake it by a six-vote majority.

I want to win in November, but not to lose again in 2008 or 2010. I want to remake the country and take back the kind of liberal dominance we had during most of the 20th century, and I don't see the current leadership looking for that. Or, if they're looking for it, they're thinking political dominance, not the ideological dominance that liberalism used to have and that we need to recapture (even Eisenhower called himself a "liberal"!).

I know I come close to sounding like I'd rather lose in November, but I don't. (At least, I don't think I don't... aw, now you've got me all messed up.)(grin}

Antid Oto said...

I too am at best conflicted about the future of the Democratic party following a (probably at best) narrow win in November. I outlined my thinking here. Summary version: If Democrats do gain control of a House of Congress, and don't have either the discipline or the balls to take the risky stands that will be necessary to hold this administration accountable, they could become complicit in a Constitutional crisis. And it is far worse for our country if both parties end up implicated in undermining the Constitution.