a bird and a bottle

Should the Dems Rule from the Left or from the Center?
November 15, 2006, 6:40 pm
Filed under: politics

There’s been some debate since the Democrats “thumped” the GOP last week about whether the Dems should legislate to the progressive (nee liberal) base, or whether thy should be the uniters Bush promised – but failed – to be. As someone who is far to the left of either of this country’s political parties as they are now conceived, my heart says, “go left! Come on all you Testers and Webbs and even you, Senator-elect Casey, be the big bleeding heart liberals I know you can be.” But in the week since the election, the establishment press has talked ad nauseum about how the democrats need to be conciliatory, need to appease those middle-of-the-road voters who swung left instead of right in this election, need to stick to the center and not present real progressive legislation. I’ve been thinking that perhaps that’s right — that perhaps the best thing for the Democrats in looking toward the big ball game in 2008 is to walk softly. But Paul Waldman at TomPaine.com has convinced me otherwise.

Waldman puts it simply: Over the next two years, the Democrats need to “crush[] their opponents like bugs.”

(image source)

It puts a smile on my face just to think about. Waldman suggests boycotting Fox (a.k.a. faux) news; digging deeply into some of the biggest scandals of the last six years, including Abu Ghraib and Ambramoff; and picking fights and not letting Bush claim victory instead of acquiescence with the Dems win. These are good points all, and Waldman’s got the chops to back them up.

In order to win in 2008, the Dems need to spend the next two years reminding voters why they (the voters) didn’t vote for Republicans in 2006. And what better way to do this than by (1) using every opportunity to remind voters that the Terri Schiavo, Abramoff, and Foley fiascoes, as well as every other GOP scandal of the last 6 years, were courtesy of the GOP; (2) making serious inroads on some major policy problems, including Iraq, taxes, oil prices, the environment, healthcare, and undocumented immigration. By doing so the Dems will highlight the GOP’s failures; and (3) creating an identity that is distinct and not just “non-Republican.” This means attacking conservativism (as Waldman points out), but also includes my point (2) above — driving through legislation that the Dems can point to during the 2008 campaign and say, “Yeah, we did that.”


2 Comments so far
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The Dems aren’t in a position to drive through anything. They are nine votes shy of the magic number, 60, in the Senate.

As long as the political system is as is, there will be no discernible difference in the way the Dems or the Republicans govern. They serve the same corporate masters. The have the exact same goal – re-election.

Comment by J

No doubt, part of J’s point is right. In fact, many of us would have made the same point in virtually the same terms in 2000, where it was difficult to tell Gore policies apart from Bush policies. And corporations certainly still rule politics. But “no discernible difference in the way the Dems or the Republicans govern”?! Have you been in a coma for the last six years?

Back to the main post, it is interesting just how many of the Republican issues you highlight to criticize – Schiavo, Foley, Ambramoff, etc. – address the negative, intrusive, hypocritical side of the social legislation that you clearly have avoided promoting for Dems: gay marriage, privacy rights/aboration, even campaign finance reform. I think this is exactly right. The Left has been portrayed as radical due to a small handful of progressive issues that appear more or less stalled for the time being. Let the Right appear like the radicals on legislation that is going nowhere (constiutional amendment to ban marriage, complete prohition of abortion, etc.). Those are battles we fight best by appealing to the moderate center and making the Right look like the extremists they are. The recent decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court is an excellent model. This will allow us to pursue a socio-economic Leftist agenda – wages, healthcare, immigration, etc. – without getting bogged down in the ideological battles we clearly have not been winning.
That said, I think we need to emphasize Republican corruption and push hard for campaign finance reform – especially to unmask the campaign finance “reformer” McCain, who is a clear frontrunner for 2008.

Comment by professorplum

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