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stephanie
06-23-2011, 01:49 PM
As I said in another thread, I've been thinking that what might be interesting is a discussion about the Democratic Party, the direction it is going in, and why, and assuming some of us would like to push it farther left on some issues, how that might be done.

I don't know if there are enough people around here interested in this topic these days, but I think it could cover a number of topics that seem to come up off and on.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 02:10 PM
So my thoughts to start off.

I'm kind of a funny person to start this thread, as I was someone who liked the fact that Clinton took the party toward the center or rightward on some issues, and who generally approved of the fact that Obama was a moderate sort. And I always thought he was.

However, I have a few problems with the way the political structures in the US have developed, the first being that we seem to have a hardcore Rightwing movement, but nothing comparable on the left. I'm comfortable with the Dems being much more moderate than the left is, but not with the Dems being so moderate and also being what passes for the left in this country. Well, not if there really is a lot of more leftwing opinion that just isn't getting reflected, which is my perception.

I think a good bit of the problem is how the parties and political discussion in this country more generally has polarized. That is, I think the Dems are terrified of seeming liberal because (1) a lot of the elite in the party, including people who donate money, aren't especially liberal on the traditional bread and butter issues; and (2) they understand the perception of "liberalism" to be a problem, but don't do a good job of separating out the areas where "liberalism" (or populism) seems to be popular from those where it's a negative. I'd point here to the way in which populist messages seem to work well when pushed by the right.

Also, I think the problem tends to be the cultural narrative, in which taking on liberal views on some issues -- those related to crime, to war, to security -- have been portrayed in a way that the Dems are particularly vulnerable to. To ever have a more liberal view expressed on these issues, I think it's necessary to change the climate so that mainstream politicians can express the liberal view without being seen as weak, unamerican, soft on criminals, so on. I'd say that the strategy of the Republicans has created these problems, and sure the Dems have bought into it too much. But this is why cheering on the Republicans without demanding more real change is hardly the answer. Well, not unless one thinks that the situation is such that only a Republican can really deal with these problems and that they are likely to really elect people who will, both of which seem unlikely.

Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't work with Republicans. To change the climate we'd have to. But I don't trust a Republican on these issues merely because they are willing to slam Dems for being militaristic. We've seen that before, and it was followed immediately by one of the worst periods for calling Dems who expressed skepticism about war unpatriotic and weak and all the rest.

operative
06-23-2011, 02:27 PM
So my thoughts to start off.

I'm kind of a funny person to start this thread, as I was someone who liked the fact that Clinton took the party toward the center or rightward on some issues, and who generally approved of the fact that Obama was a moderate sort. And I always thought he was.

However, I have a few problems with the way the political structures in the US have developed, the first being that we seem to have a hardcore Rightwing movement, but nothing comparable on the left. I'm comfortable with the Dems being much more moderate than the left is, but not with the Dems being so moderate and also being what passes for the left in this country. Well, not if there really is a lot of more leftwing opinion that just isn't getting reflected, which is my perception.

Maybe if you're limiting your time frame to the last 30 or so years. Before Reagan, the GOP was dominated by people who could hardly be called conservative. Goldwater was more of a blip on the radar till Reagan got the nomination.

The Democrats became a moderate party for 8 years in the 1990s but those days are certainly gone. I'll try to flesh that out further below.

By the way, if you haven't read it, check out McCarthy, Poole and Rosenthal's Polarized America.



I think a good bit of the problem is how the parties and political discussion in this country more generally has polarized. That is, I think the Dems are terrified of seeming liberal because (1) a lot of the elite in the party, including people who donate money, aren't especially liberal on the traditional bread and butter issues; and (2) they understand the perception of "liberalism" to be a problem, but don't do a good job of separating out the areas where "liberalism" (or populism) seems to be popular from those where it's a negative. I'd point here to the way in which populist messages seem to work well when pushed by the right.

I think it's more productive to look at individual issue stances than the inconsistent abstractions that are political labels. If we're sticking to labels, the term liberal has, overall, become pejorative in some circles, but labels are tricky things. For instance, the MSM will regularly call Republicans conservative, but how often do they call Democrats liberal?



Also, I think the problem tends to be the cultural narrative, in which taking on liberal views on some issues -- those related to crime, to war, to security -- have been portrayed in a way that the Dems are particularly vulnerable to. To ever have a more liberal view expressed on these issues, I think it's necessary to change the climate so that mainstream politicians can express the liberal view without being seen as weak, unamerican, soft on criminals, so on. I'd say that the strategy of the Republicans has created these problems, and sure the Dems have bought into it too much. But this is why cheering on the Republicans without demanding more real change is hardly the answer. Well, not unless one thinks that the situation is such that only a Republican can really deal with these problems and that they are likely to really elect people who will, both of which seem unlikely.

Ok now we're getting into some interesting territory, because war policy is quickly evolving in both parties so that each party has both an interventionist wing and a non-interventionist (or less interventionist, perhaps) wing. Unless there's a full paradigm shift in the American public, there isn't room for two parties of the same bent, so one party will become identified as the interventionist party, and the other as the non-interventionist party. And right now, I'm inclined to believe that the GOP will be the non-interventionist party. The John McCain and Lindsey Graham wing is going to get drowned out. Obama has shown a definite interventionist leaning, and I can't imagine that the Democrats will revolt in mass--we're not even going to get a primary challenge.

operative
06-23-2011, 02:30 PM
In regards to Democrat policies, I think they may have less room for change. The greater the libertarian influence in the GOP grows, the more substantial certain policy stances may evolve in mainstream GOP politics. So, the GOP, and not the Democrats, could be the party to begin to support ending the war on drugs and moving toward decriminalization and legalization. I honestly don't see it coming from the Democrats. I think that marriage will cease to be an issue within 5 years.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 02:54 PM
Maybe if you're limiting your time frame to the last 30 or so years. Before Reagan, the GOP was dominated by people who could hardly be called conservative. Goldwater was more of a blip on the radar till Reagan got the nomination.

I think this demonstrates a mistake that is often made in this discussion by people on both sides. For example, I think ohreally is the one who likes to insist that the Dems are now to the right of Nixon.

Basically, the GOP was liberal pre Reagan only if we have a really limited understanding of what liberal and conservative mean in the US political context. The pre Reagan Republicans certainly were more liberal in some ways, including on economic issues and some social issues. The pre Reagan Dems were probably more conservative on social issues and more liberal on economics. But conservatism was certainly a strong force in the Republicans pre Reagan. For example all his somewhat liberal seeming stances in the context of today, Nixon was a pro at appealing to them.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 02:59 PM
The greater the libertarian influence in the GOP grows, the more substantial certain policy stances may evolve in mainstream GOP politics.

I think this is wishful thinking, along the lines of what I see Wonderment engaging in. However, I'd prefer a more libertarian Republican party that rejected the kinds of RW populism that I think have the most negative influence on our political debate as anything, so I hope you are right and would support your efforts in some ways. Fundamentally, however, I don't think liberatarianism is popular among either the masses or the purse-string holders, so I am skeptical.

That said, I don't expect you to agree with me, and I think you should start your own thread about the Republican Party or "libertarians, how can we succeed." You'll be more successful here than in the country as a whole, since the internet and sites like this tend to have a much more libertarian presence than is representative of the country (or Republicans) as a whole.

Don Zeko
06-23-2011, 03:00 PM
I think a good bit of the problem is how the parties and political discussion in this country more generally has polarized. That is, I think the Dems are terrified of seeming liberal because (1) a lot of the elite in the party, including people who donate money, aren't especially liberal on the traditional bread and butter issues; and (2) they understand the perception of "liberalism" to be a problem, but don't do a good job of separating out the areas where "liberalism" (or populism) seems to be popular from those where it's a negative. I'd point here to the way in which populist messages seem to work well when pushed by the right.

Also, I think the problem tends to be the cultural narrative, in which taking on liberal views on some issues -- those related to crime, to war, to security -- have been portrayed in a way that the Dems are particularly vulnerable to. To ever have a more liberal view expressed on these issues, I think it's necessary to change the climate so that mainstream politicians can express the liberal view without being seen as weak, unamerican, soft on criminals, so on. I'd say that the strategy of the Republicans has created these problems, and sure the Dems have bought into it too much. But this is why cheering on the Republicans without demanding more real change is hardly the answer. Well, not unless one thinks that the situation is such that only a Republican can really deal with these problems and that they are likely to really elect people who will, both of which seem unlikely.

I'm generally of the opinion that narratives and labels have very little causal power, and instead what really drives all of this is the relative strength of various interest groups. So what concerns me more than essentially anything else is the collapse of the labor movement in American and the failure of any other major interest group to take its place when it comes to advocating for the bread-and-butter concerns of the middle and working class. That, and the decision by business interests to engage in much more, and much better coordinated, political activism in the 70's is the basic cause of the steady rightward turn of our politics when it comes to spending, taxation, regulation, and so forth. So while the turn towards soliciting business for contributions, emphasizing cultural issues instead, and nominating corrupt jackass centrists like Evan Bayh are all problems, I think that they are proximate causes at best of our disappointments with the party. It all comes back to labor's absence from the coalition.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 03:04 PM
The Democrats became a moderate party for 8 years in the 1990s but those days are certainly gone.

I think you are wrong here, but more significantly, this thread is intended to discuss a perceived problem among the left -- that the Dems are too far to the right. Rather than keep debating this in various threads, I figured it would be worthwhile to have a thread in which those who generally supported the Dems or liberal or leftwing causes could discuss this.

It may be that the site is such that no one who this fits is much interested in discussing this, and thus the thread fails, no biggie. However, the topic is basically about why the Dems aren't standing up for leftwing causes and how we can change this.

operative
06-23-2011, 03:17 PM
I think this demonstrates a mistake that is often made in this discussion by people on both sides. For example, I think ohreally is the one who likes to insist that the Dems are now to the right of Nixon.

Basically, the GOP was liberal pre Reagan only if we have a really limited understanding of what liberal and conservative mean in the US political context. The pre Reagan Republicans certainly were more liberal in some ways, including on economic issues and some social issues. The pre Reagan Dems were probably more conservative on social issues and more liberal on economics. But conservatism was certainly a strong force in the Republicans pre Reagan. For example all his somewhat liberal seeming stances in the context of today, Nixon was a pro at appealing to them.

I think that's where my point about the nebulousness of terminology comes into play. The GOP was essentially solidly Keynesian until Reagan got the nomination; I think this is a very significant distinction between the old Republicans and the new Republicans.

graz
06-23-2011, 03:17 PM
I'm generally of the opinion that narratives and labels have very little causal power, and instead what really drives all of this is the relative strength of various interest groups. So what concerns me more than essentially anything else is the collapse of the labor movement in American and the failure of any other major interest group to take its place when it comes to advocating for the bread-and-butter concerns of the middle and working class. That, and the decision by business interests to engage in much more, and much better coordinated, political activism in the 70's is the basic cause of the steady rightward turn of our politics when it comes to spending, taxation, regulation, and so forth. So while the turn towards soliciting business for contributions, emphasizing cultural issues instead, and nominating corrupt jackass centrists like Evan Bayh are all problems, I think that they are proximate causes at best of our disappointments with the party. It all comes back to labor's absence from the coalition.
Word.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 03:17 PM
I'm generally of the opinion that narratives and labels have very little causal power, and instead what really drives all of this is the relative strength of various interest groups.

I think they work together, but I do think narratives are powerful, so we disagree. Maybe we will be able to get more into that later.

So what concerns me more than essentially anything else is the collapse of the labor movement in American and the failure of any other major interest group to take its place when it comes to advocating for the bread-and-butter concerns of the middle and working class. That, and the decision by business interests to engage in much more, and much better coordinated, political activism in the 70's is the basic cause of the steady rightward turn of our politics when it comes to spending, taxation, regulation, and so forth.

Despite out disagree noted above, this is quite similar to my own view. To summarize what I said about the realignment in the Thomas Frank thread, I think the realignments of the late 60s through 80s ended up pushing a lot more professional class types and better-off urbanites into the Dems in general and a lot more working class whites into the Republicans. Part of this has to do with the simpler realignment by geography. This was combined with the decline of the labor movement and the manufacturing segment of the economic in general. The result of this, plus aggressive efforts wrt campaign financing by the right/business interests was that the traditional base of the Dems (labor) is no longer the base, and the Dems increasingly are reliant on the socially liberal but economically pragmatic professional class both for leadership and money. Also reliant more and more on money from business, like the Republicans too (but with a built in disadvantage there).

The result of this, of course, is that on economic issues the Dems are much more centrist or even right than in the past. Since I tend to share a lot of the assumptions of the people driving this change, I intially liked it and am still not against it, but the fact that we have nothing to the left with any power now means the actual debate is really, really bad. It's also true that this shift was combined with a shift in the Republicans, as the people now forming the consensus in the Dems in many ways used to be Republicans and so the Republicans are affected by their loss.

My conclusion from this, though, is that the left really can't get anywhere simply by attacking the Dems for this. There has to be more, and part of that has to do with either writing off the Dems as a party for the working class -- which would be a real shame, as no one would be then -- or regaining some of the working class now inclined to vote Republican.

Unfortunately, this seems somewhat inconsistent, or at least not easily made consistent, with some of the focuses of the Left who is most angry, as it gets combined with a variety of war, crime, civil rights, and social issue views.

Personally, I'm more sympathetic to the left on crime and civil rights and security, mixed on war-type issues, and least on economics, traditionally, but oddly enough I think the Dems most fundamentally need to be a party for the working and middle class, since we need one in this country. So what this means is that I'm arguing for a Democratic Party that meets my personal interests less.

operative
06-23-2011, 03:20 PM
I think you are wrong here, but more significantly, this thread is intended to discuss a perceived problem among the left -- that the Dems are too far to the right. Rather than keep debating this in various threads, I figured it would be worthwhile to have a thread in which those who generally supported the Dems or liberal or leftwing causes could discuss this.

It may be that the site is such that no one who this fits is much interested in discussing this, and thus the thread fails, no biggie. However, the topic is basically about why the Dems aren't standing up for leftwing causes and how we can change this.

You mentioned a few issues and I'm assuming that those are the ones that you're thinking of--security, war, crime. It seems like you're arguing that the Democrats should be more like the folks at Reason magazine.

I question two things:
1) Do you really think there's the space in American politics for that? In other words, can they have electoral success on that platform? You admit that they've been weaknesses for the Democrats, but what do you really think it would take for them to be able to run on an anti-DP, anti-securtity-state platform?
2) If there is that space available, do you really think the Democrats are the ones who will occupy it?

chiwhisoxx
06-23-2011, 03:24 PM
I'm generally of the opinion that narratives and labels have very little causal power, and instead what really drives all of this is the relative strength of various interest groups. So what concerns me more than essentially anything else is the collapse of the labor movement in American and the failure of any other major interest group to take its place when it comes to advocating for the bread-and-butter concerns of the middle and working class. That, and the decision by business interests to engage in much more, and much better coordinated, political activism in the 70's is the basic cause of the steady rightward turn of our politics when it comes to spending, taxation, regulation, and so forth. So while the turn towards soliciting business for contributions, emphasizing cultural issues instead, and nominating corrupt jackass centrists like Evan Bayh are all problems, I think that they are proximate causes at best of our disappointments with the party. It all comes back to labor's absence from the coalition.

In what way do you mean labor is absent? Do you mean that the United States doesn't have a strong European style labor party? I mean that's obviously true, and the number of unionized workers has fallen. But it doesn't seem like labors influence has waned all that much. Most important endorsements in the Democratic primary? All union related. Who pours the most amount of money into politics, despite what Lee Fang may want you to think? Unions. So I sort of see what you're saying, and on some level it has an empirical basis, but on the other hand...at least from where I sit, I see a labor movement with incredible power, and one that the Democratic party is entirely beholden to.

operative
06-23-2011, 03:25 PM
I think they work together, but I do think narratives are powerful, so we disagree. Maybe we will be able to get more into that later.



Despite out disagree noted above, this is quite similar to my own view. To summarize what I said about the realignment in the Thomas Frank thread, I think the realignments of the late 60s through 80s ended up pushing a lot more professional class types and better-off urbanites into the Dems in general and a lot more working class whites into the Republicans. Part of this has to do with the simpler realignment by geography. This was combined with the decline of the labor movement and the manufacturing segment of the economic in general. The result of this, plus aggressive efforts wrt campaign financing by the right/business interests was that the traditional base of the Dems (labor) is no longer the base, and the Dems increasingly are reliant on the socially liberal but economically pragmatic professional class both for leadership and money. Also reliant more and more on money from business, like the Republicans too (but with a built in disadvantage there).

The result of this, of course, is that on economic issues the Dems are much more centrist or even right than in the past. Since I tend to share a lot of the assumptions of the people driving this change, I intially liked it and am still not against it, but the fact that we have nothing to the left with any power now means the actual debate is really, really bad. It's also true that this shift was combined with a shift in the Republicans, as the people now forming the consensus in the Dems in many ways used to be Republicans and so the Republicans are affected by their loss.

My conclusion from this, though, is that the left really can't get anywhere simply by attacking the Dems for this. There has to be more, and part of that has to do with either writing off the Dems as a party for the working class -- which would be a real shame, as no one would be then -- or regaining some of the working class now inclined to vote Republican.

Unfortunately, this seems somewhat inconsistent, or at least not easily made consistent, with some of the focuses of the Left who is most angry, as it gets combined with a variety of war, crime, civil rights, and social issue views.

Personally, I'm more sympathetic to the left on crime and civil rights and security, mixed on war-type issues, and least on economics, traditionally, but oddly enough I think the Dems most fundamentally need to be a party for the working and middle class, since we need one in this country. So what this means is that I'm arguing for a Democratic Party that meets my personal interests less.

Do you really think that it's viable for the Democrats to shift back toward Labor-oriented politics? The percentage of the unionized workforce continues to fall, and sectors that traditionally had large labor workforces are finding more efficient mechanized production. Do you think that the views of Labor are going to be attractive to IT professionals?

chiwhisoxx
06-23-2011, 03:28 PM
So my thoughts to start off.

I'm kind of a funny person to start this thread, as I was someone who liked the fact that Clinton took the party toward the center or rightward on some issues, and who generally approved of the fact that Obama was a moderate sort. And I always thought he was.

However, I have a few problems with the way the political structures in the US have developed, the first being that we seem to have a hardcore Rightwing movement, but nothing comparable on the left. I'm comfortable with the Dems being much more moderate than the left is, but not with the Dems being so moderate and also being what passes for the left in this country. Well, not if there really is a lot of more leftwing opinion that just isn't getting reflected, which is my perception.

I think a good bit of the problem is how the parties and political discussion in this country more generally has polarized. That is, I think the Dems are terrified of seeming liberal because (1) a lot of the elite in the party, including people who donate money, aren't especially liberal on the traditional bread and butter issues; and (2) they understand the perception of "liberalism" to be a problem, but don't do a good job of separating out the areas where "liberalism" (or populism) seems to be popular from those where it's a negative. I'd point here to the way in which populist messages seem to work well when pushed by the right.

Also, I think the problem tends to be the cultural narrative, in which taking on liberal views on some issues -- those related to crime, to war, to security -- have been portrayed in a way that the Dems are particularly vulnerable to. To ever have a more liberal view expressed on these issues, I think it's necessary to change the climate so that mainstream politicians can express the liberal view without being seen as weak, unamerican, soft on criminals, so on. I'd say that the strategy of the Republicans has created these problems, and sure the Dems have bought into it too much. But this is why cheering on the Republicans without demanding more real change is hardly the answer. Well, not unless one thinks that the situation is such that only a Republican can really deal with these problems and that they are likely to really elect people who will, both of which seem unlikely.

Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't work with Republicans. To change the climate we'd have to. But I don't trust a Republican on these issues merely because they are willing to slam Dems for being militaristic. We've seen that before, and it was followed immediately by one of the worst periods for calling Dems who expressed skepticism about war unpatriotic and weak and all the rest.

This would seem like a far more plausible analysis to me before 2008. I'm not sure how a country that would elect Barack Obama squares with all of what you said. Crime has almost entirely receded as an issue, and guns are pretty peripheral now as well. And the ground seems to be shifting on foreign policy, with interventionists and non-interventionists popping up in both coalitions. The ground is shifting on social issues too; I think gay marriage is a good example of this. So, your analysis seems more like something from 1998 rather than 2011, at least to me.

operative
06-23-2011, 03:28 PM
In what way do you mean labor is absent? Do you mean that the United States doesn't have a strong European style labor party? I mean that's obviously, and the number of unionized workers has fallen. But it doesn't seem like labors influence has waned all that much. Most important endorsements in the Democratic primary? All union related. Who pours the most amount of money into politics, despite what Lee Fang may want you to think? Unions. So I sort of see what you're saying, and on some level it has an empirical basis, but on the other hand...at least from where I sit, I see a labor movement with incredible power, and one that the Democratic party is entirely beholden to.

I wasn't going to point this out, but I do agree. I just don't see this argument--the SEIU is one of the largest political donors and certainly is an important player in Democrat politics. Obama stacked the NLRB with pro-union people, hence the recent Boeing decision. Good luck being considered anti-union in any way and getting ahead in the Democrat party--just look at Adrian Fenty.

operative
06-23-2011, 03:34 PM
Oh and in regard to ideological shifts, I think this recent Silver post bears mentioning:
http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/20/poll-finds-a-shift-toward-more-libertarian-views/

Don Zeko
06-23-2011, 03:38 PM
In what way do you mean labor is absent? Do you mean that the United States doesn't have a strong European style labor party? I mean that's obviously, and the number of unionized workers has fallen. But it doesn't seem like labors influence has waned all that much. Most important endorsements in the Democratic primary? All union related. Who pours the most amount of money into politics, despite what Lee Fang may want you to think? Unions. So I sort of see what you're saying, and on some level it has an empirical basis, but on the other hand...at least from where I sit, I see a labor movement with incredible power, and one that the Democratic party is entirely beholden to.

This would seem like a far more plausible analysis to me before 2008. I'm not sure how a country that would elect Barack Obama squares with all of what you said. Crime has almost entirely receded as an issue, and guns are pretty peripheral now as well. And the ground seems to be shifting on foreign policy, with interventionists and non-interventionists popping up in both coalitions. The ground is shifting on social issues too; I think gay marriage is a good example of this. So, your analysis seems more like something from 1998 rather than 2011, at least to me.

I don't mean to pick on you personally, because basically every partisan everywhere thinks this to some degree or another. I'm sure that I'm frequently guilty of it too. We all think (http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2010/10/iron-law-of-politics-beanbag-this-aint.html) that the other side is more coordinated, more ruthless, and more extreme than our side. But compared to the way debates about taxation, government services, regulation, and so forth played out in the 50's or 60's, today's Democrats are incredibly mealy-mouthed and friendly with corporate interests. There's a world of difference between the party that passed the GI Bill, created Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and today's Democratic party that failed to repeal the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000 and couldn't pull together a Senate majority for the Public Option, and barely passed a halfhearted and industry-friendly set of banking regulations when the finance industry is more justly despised than it has been in decades.

And when it comes to unions, they are still an important part of the coalition, that's true. But in 1970, private sector unions were the big grassroots organization in the Democratic party, dwarfing everyone else at the table. Now private sector unions barely exist, and their political power even within the Democratic party is a pale shadow of what it once was. Remember Card Check, and how it never made it out of committee even with 60 Democratic Senators? If labor is as powerful as you think, what explains that?

graz
06-23-2011, 03:40 PM
In what way do you mean labor is absent?

I know you put the question to Zeke, but here is your former professor with some input:
http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/06/22960

operative
06-23-2011, 03:44 PM
I don't mean to pick on you personally, because basically every partisan everywhere thinks this to some degree or another. I'm sure that I'm frequently guilty of it too. We all think (http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2010/10/iron-law-of-politics-beanbag-this-aint.html) that the other side is more coordinated, more ruthless, and more extreme than our side. But compared to the way debates about taxation, government services, regulation, and so forth played out in the 50's or 60's, today's Democrats are incredibly mealy-mouthed and friendly with corporate interests. There's a world of difference between the party that passed the GI Bill, created Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and today's Democratic party that failed to repeal the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000 and couldn't pull together a Senate majority for the Public Option, and barely passed a halfhearted and industry-friendly set of banking regulations when the finance industry is more justly despised than it has been in decades.

And when it comes to unions, they are still an important part of the coalition, that's true. But in 1970, private sector unions were the big grassroots organization in the Democratic party, dwarfing everyone else at the table. Now private sector unions barely exist, and their political power even within the Democratic party is a pale shadow of what it once was. Remember Card Check, and how it never made it out of committee even with 60 Democratic Senators? If labor is as powerful as you think, what explains that?

I thought about Card Check. Bear in mind two things:
1) The bill was unpopular with the nation
2) It was opposed by other powerful Dem interest groups to a far greater measure than other labor policies.

I don't think that it's viable to say that because the most pro-union policy possible doesn't pass, unions aren't a powerful voice. The most pro-gun policies don't pass with the GOP in charge, but does that mean the gun lobby isn't a powerful voice?

chiwhisoxx
06-23-2011, 03:45 PM
I don't mean to pick on you personally, because basically every partisan everywhere thinks this to some degree or another. I'm sure that I'm frequently guilty of it too. We all think (http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2010/10/iron-law-of-politics-beanbag-this-aint.html) that the other side is more coordinated, more ruthless, and more extreme than our side. But compared to the way debates about taxation, government , regulation, and so forth played out in the 50's or 60's, today's Democrats are incredibly mealy-mouthed and friendly with corporate interests. There's a world of difference between the party that passed the GI Bill, created Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and today's Democratic party that failed to repeal the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000 and couldn't pull together a Senate majority for the Public Option, and barely passed a halfhearted and industry-friendly set of banking regulations when the finance industry is more justly despised than it has been in decades.

And when it comes to unions, they are still an important part of the coalition, that's true. But in 1970, private sector unions were the big grassroots organization in the Democratic party, dwarfing everyone else at the table. Now private sector unions barely exist, and their political power even within the Democratic party is a pale shadow of what it once was. Remember Card Check, and how it never made it out of committee even with 60 Democratic Senators? If labor is as powerful as you think, what explains that?

I actually don't think the other side is more coordinated, ruthless, extreme, etc. Most of what I hear is liberals accusing conservatives of being the lock-step ideological group. I think Republican politicians are way more unified than Democratic politicians; so insofar as we're talking about political parties I agree with you. But I also think liberal intellectuals are way more unified than conservative ones. So that creates a semi-interesting paradox. And I certainly won't disagree with the idea that Democratic politicians are very, very friendly to corporate interests.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 03:47 PM
You mentioned a few issues and I'm assuming that those are the ones that you're thinking of--security, war, crime. It seems like you're arguing that the Democrats should be more like the folks at Reason magazine.

I am not arguing this, and I don't think Wonderment is, although it's possible that he and some on some parts of the left are. I think I expanded on my view in the post right before yours.

I do think we have some opportunity for the country as a whole to move to the left on security, war, crime, although I'm not especially optimistic right now. I expect that both parties will move to the left on these issues (with war being one that's hard to classify as right/left) as soon as they stop being wedge issues.

Don Zeko
06-23-2011, 03:47 PM
And I certainly won't disagree with the idea that Democratic politicians are very, very friendly to corporate interests.

Do you disagree with the other side of that story, namely that this came about in the 1980's when people like Chuck Schumer started actively courting corporate support in order to close the money gap with the better-funded and much more corporate-friendly GOP?

stephanie
06-23-2011, 03:49 PM
Do you really think that it's viable for the Democrats to shift back toward Labor-oriented politics?

No, I don't. Therefore, I think they need to figure out how to be a party that represents the working and middle classes given the context of today.

operative
06-23-2011, 03:53 PM
I actually don't think the other side is more coordinated, ruthless, extreme, etc. Most of what I hear is liberals accusing conservatives of being the lock-step ideological group. I think Republican politicians are way more unified than Democratic politicians; so insofar as we're talking about political parties I agree with you. But I also think liberal intellectuals are way more unified than conservative ones. So that creates a semi-interesting paradox. And I certainly won't disagree with the idea that Democratic politicians are very, very friendly to corporate interests.

This was the case up until recently, but I don't think the GOP is so cohesive anymore. There's a pretty big gap between the corporatists (Imhoffe, Shelby) and the reformers (Lee, Paul, etc.) and the latter are going to grow in number and power. There's also a pretty significant growing rift between interventionists (McCain, Graham) and non-interventionists.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 03:53 PM
I'm not sure how a country that would elect Barack Obama squares with all of what you said.

Perhaps we see Obama differently, but he seems to me perfectly in tune with what I said, a continuation of the kind of pragmatic, professional class-representing Democratic Party that Clinton presided over.

The issues you mentioned (guns, crime, gay marriage) are classic wedge issues, and sure the popular wedge issues tend to change. That said, I see no change on the crime-related issues despite there being an opportunity, because both parties are stuck in politics of the past. Similarly, I'm much more skeptical of the supposed change on war-type issues than you are. I don't see what's going on now as much different than what was being said in '00.

operative
06-23-2011, 03:54 PM
No, I don't. Therefore, I think they need to figure out how to be a party that represents the working and middle classes given the context of today.

What does that involve?

stephanie
06-23-2011, 03:59 PM
But I also think liberal intellectuals are way more unified than conservative ones.

I don't agree with you here, but more significantly, I don't think it matters. It has no current significant bearing on the Democratic Party, at least if what you mean by "intellectual" is what I think you mean.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 03:59 PM
What does that involve?

Why is this turning into a question and answer?

operative
06-23-2011, 04:02 PM
Why is this turning into a question and answer?

Because I really don't know what direction you're going in here--for me, appealing to today's middle class would involve pushing a complete elimination of trade barriers, entrance into free trade agreements, etc. but I don't think you agree (and I'm sure you also think that I am projecting my leanings onto that of the broad crossection of America).

popcorn_karate
06-23-2011, 04:15 PM
Because I really don't know what direction you're going in here--for me, appealing to today's middle class would involve pushing a complete elimination of trade barriers, entrance into free trade agreements, etc. but I don't think you agree (and I'm sure you also think that I am projecting my leanings onto that of the broad crossection of America).

do you think it is possible for you to meaningfully contribute to a discussion of how to push the democratic party left when that goal is anathema to you?

i doubt i could do the opposite with any sincerity.

chiwhisoxx
06-23-2011, 04:17 PM
Do you disagree with the other side of that story, namely that this came about in the 1980's when people like Chuck Schumer started actively courting corporate support in order to close the money gap with the better-funded and much more corporate-friendly GOP?

Don't know that specific history well enough to comment. "Corporate friendly" is a tricky term. Even though I don't know the history, your answer seems to be "it's the republicans fault!" which seems like kind of a lame excuse. If the Democratic party is too friendly to corporate interests for their base, it really ought to be their responsibility.

Don Zeko
06-23-2011, 04:19 PM
Don't know that specific history well enough to comment. "Corporate friendly" is a tricky term. Even though I don't know the history, your answer seems to be "it's the republicans fault!" which seems like kind of a lame excuse. If the Democrat party is too friendly to corporate interests for their base, it really ought to be their responsibility.

No, not at all. My answer is that the Democrats are bad and the Republicans are worse (Surprise! I'm a Democrat), but that the basic problem is that business interests don't have a countervailing force on these issues any more, so we get more and more deregulation, tax cuts targeted at the very wealthy, stagnating wages, etc. etc. etc..

operative
06-23-2011, 04:27 PM
do you think it is possible for you to meaningfully contribute to a discussion of how to push the democratic party left when that goal is anathema to you?

i doubt i could do the opposite with any sincerity.

Well there are a few possibilities there:
1) Make the party more politically potent
2) Make the party more 'left'
3) Make the party more politically potent and 'left'

One of the reasons I wanted to hear some specifics is because I am not sure what we're really talking about--are we talking about more civil libertarian? That'd be in keeping with my goals. Are we talking about developing a greater welfare state? That obviously is not. I'm not sure that it is possible to make the party both more pro-welfare-state and more politically potent.

I really don't have a problem with talking about hypothetical that I don't actually agree with. I'm sure that the ideological blinders never fully depart, but I think I'm capable of doing a decent job with it.

Don Zeko
06-23-2011, 04:28 PM
I think a good bit of the problem is how the parties and political discussion in this country more generally has polarized. That is, I think the Dems are terrified of seeming liberal because (1) a lot of the elite in the party, including people who donate money, aren't especially liberal on the traditional bread and butter issues; and (2) they understand the perception of "liberalism" to be a problem, but don't do a good job of separating out the areas where "liberalism" (or populism) seems to be popular from those where it's a negative. I'd point here to the way in which populist messages seem to work well when pushed by the right.

Also, I think the problem tends to be the cultural narrative, in which taking on liberal views on some issues -- those related to crime, to war, to security -- have been portrayed in a way that the Dems are particularly vulnerable to. To ever have a more liberal view expressed on these issues, I think it's necessary to change the climate so that mainstream politicians can express the liberal view without being seen as weak, unamerican, soft on criminals, so on. I'd say that the strategy of the Republicans has created these problems, and sure the Dems have bought into it too much. But this is why cheering on the Republicans without demanding more real change is hardly the answer. Well, not unless one thinks that the situation is such that only a Republican can really deal with these problems and that they are likely to really elect people who will, both of which seem unlikely.

Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't work with Republicans. To change the climate we'd have to. But I don't trust a Republican on these issues merely because they are willing to slam Dems for being militaristic. We've seen that before, and it was followed immediately by one of the worst periods for calling Dems who expressed skepticism about war unpatriotic and weak and all the rest.

I didn't really address the non-economic issues in my previous post. While I tend to prioritize the money stuff, I definitely care about war, crime, the death penalty, the Drug War and so forth too, so I don't want to leave this out of the discussion. The trouble is that I don't know how to approach the problem. With economic issues, I at least have a vague answer that creates lots of other questions: we need to find a way to mobilize working class and middle class voters to defend their own economic interests since labor unions are no longer capable of doing so in the same way that they did in the past.

But with something like the death penalty, I don't know how you get around the basic problem that it's an unpopular position surrounded by toxic political dynamics. I don't know what constituency to mobilize, much less how to do so. Beyond saying that we'll win when we can bombard someone like Rick Perry with phone calls and angry letters in the same way that the NRA or the Christian Right can light up the phone boards on their big issues, I don't know how we get to where I want to go.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 04:36 PM
the Democrat party

It would kill you to call it by its actual name in a thread where that name is the title?

I don't see how you could read DZ's comments, or the various similar ones in this thread, as it's the Republican's fault. We are talking about causal forces that both parties are going to respond to, one of which is the need for money in the US system. I don't expect the Dems -- or the Republicans -- to ignore concerns about money, that would be unrealistic. Nor do I think the Republicans are bad for taking money from corporate interests, as long as our politics are funded the way they are. But it makes sense then to look at the need and source of money in explaining why the parties are the way they are and it's no answer to just say that liberals should demand that the Dems not take money from corporate sources or lambast them as impure when they do. As long as they need the money to compete, they will seek out sources of it, and not doing so wouldn't further leftwing interests, although it might make the pure of heart feel good.

Seems to me that there are two major options -- try to make money less of a force in politics, or at least corporate money, or, in the alternative, figure out some alternative source of funding to replace at least a portion of the what the labor unions used to represent. I've always been skeptical about campaign finance reform, but at this point there's little reason to discuss it as the SC has basically taken it off the table.

I do think we should have good disclosure laws, but that's more as a goo-goo thing, not so much partisan politics.

operative
06-23-2011, 04:37 PM
I didn't really address the non-economic issues in my previous post. While I tend to prioritize the money stuff, I definitely care about war, crime, the death penalty, the Drug War and so forth too, so I don't want to leave this out of the discussion. The trouble is that I don't know how to approach the problem. With economic issues, I at least have a vague answer that creates lots of other questions: we need to find a way to mobilize working class and middle class voters to defend their own economic interests since labor unions are no longer capable of doing so in the same way that they did in the past.

But with something like the death penalty, I don't know how you get around the basic problem that it's an unpopular position surrounded by toxic political dynamics. I don't know what constituency to mobilize, much less how to do so. Beyond saying that we'll win when we can bombard someone like Rick Perry with phone calls and angry letters in the same way that the NRA or the Christian Right can light up the phone boards on their big issues, I don't know how we get to where I want to go.

Suck up to evangelical voters and convince them that Jesus doesn't like the electric chair.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 04:47 PM
But with something like the death penalty, I don't know how you get around the basic problem that it's an unpopular position surrounded by toxic political dynamics. I don't know what constituency to mobilize, much less how to do so. Beyond saying that we'll win when we can bombard someone like Rick Perry with phone calls and angry letters in the same way that the NRA or the Christian Right can light up the phone boards on their big issues, I don't know how we get to where I want to go.

I agree with your analysis that these are harder issues, since unlike the economic stuff they do tend to be issues where the "elites" differ with the country as a whole, which is what the Republicans have played on so effectively.

Basically, I think it depends on the issue. My fear is that with things like crime, security, drugs, the most progress is made when they aren't wedge issues. Mainly because I think the elites in both parties are more likely to be pragmatists (and thus more liberal, as currently defined) on the issues. We have a chance to make progress because crime isn't an issue so much, for example, whereas other things (the economy) is.

Other social issues, such as gay marriage, I think are different, simply because the dynamics of the support and opposition are different, and the opposition on gay marriage was unstable for the reasons I argued in the last Michael Doughtery thread.

With a lot of these kinds of things, because they are wedge issues, I think they can benefit from a bipartisan approach of the sort Wonderment favors, but I think in order to really succeed you need something more than Republicans and liberal Dems making statements about how bad the Dems are when the mainstream Republicans go on as usual with the approach to the issues.

(For the record, this is not a Republicans are bad post. I expect wedge issues to be part of politics. I just don't think we can change the national debate on something by shaming the Dems as our primary strategy when the Republicans are committed to using the particular issue as a wedge.)

Wonderment
06-23-2011, 05:19 PM
The shift among Republicans on foreign policy is potentially a big deal for a lot of voters. For example, the upcoming House vote on banning drone strikes in Libya has me rooting for Repubs., perhaps for the first time in my life. I've never voted for a Republican, and plan to vote for Obama again in 2012, but he really hurt himself with voters like me with his performance on the escalation in Afghanistan, the war on Libya and the Likudian support for Zionism.

Dems. have held left voters hostage for decades. There are a lot of ways we can work on changing this. Here are some of the thing I do and have done: 1 join a third party. This doesn't mean you have to vote for all their candidates. 2. Refuse to contribute money or time to Dem candidates, and let them know why. 3. Make deals and give ultimatums. Example: If Obama blocks the Palestinian statehood vote at the UN in the fall, he loses my vote. 4. Stay in touch with and financially support consistent left leaders like Dennis Kucinich and Repubs who are in your camp on some issues, like Ron Paul, who's introducing a bill with Barney Frank to legalize weed. Let Paul know why you can't support him and what you expect of him on other issues like abortion rights. 5. Become a nonpartisan activist on issues that you're especially passionate about. This is working, for example, on same-sex marriage, nuclear weapon abolition and immigrant rights. Bottom line: DO NOT LET DEMS. TAKE YOU FOR GRANTED. That's the worst thing you can do.

chiwhisoxx
06-23-2011, 05:21 PM
It would kill you to call it by its actual name in a thread where that name is the title?

I don't see how you could read DZ's comments, or the various similar ones in this thread, as it's the Republican's fault. We are talking about causal forces that both parties are going to respond to, one of which is the need for money in the US system. I don't expect the Dems -- or the Republicans -- to ignore concerns about money, that would be unrealistic. Nor do I think the Republicans are bad for taking money from corporate interests, as long as our politics are funded the way they are. But it makes sense then to look at the need and source of money in explaining why the parties are the way they are and it's no answer to just say that liberals should demand that the Dems not take money from corporate sources or lambast them as impure when they do. As long as they need the money to compete, they will seek out sources of it, and not doing so wouldn't further leftwing interests, although it might make the pure of heart feel good.

Seems to me that there are two major options -- try to make money less of a force in politics, or at least corporate money, or, in the alternative, figure out some alternative source of funding to replace at least a portion of the what the labor unions used to represent. I've always been skeptical about campaign finance reform, but at this point there's little reason to discuss it as the SC has basically taken it off the table.

I do think we should have good disclosure laws, but that's more as a goo-goo thing, not so much partisan politics.

are you being serious? It was obviously a typo. if you're going to lecture operative about clarifying before condemning, then practice what you preach. And I wasn't responding to anything more than ONE of Zeke's post; a very short and specific statement he made.

Don Zeko
06-23-2011, 05:27 PM
The shift among Republicans on foreign policy is potentially a big deal for a lot of voters. For example, the upcoming House vote on banning drone strikes in Libya has me rooting for Repubs., perhaps for the first time in my life. I've never voted for a Republican, and plan to vote for Obama again in 2012, but he really hurt himself with voters like me with his performance on the escalation in Afghanistan, the war on Libya and the Likudian support for Zionism.

Dems. have held left voters hostage for decades. There are a lot of ways we can work on changing this. Here are some of the thing I do and have done: 1 join a third party. This doesn't mean you have to vote for all their candidates. 2. Refuse to contribute money or time to Dem candidates, and let them know why. 3. Make deals and give ultimatums. Example: If Obama blocks the Palestinian statehood vote at the UN in the fall, he loses my vote. 4. Stay in touch with and financially support consistent left leaders like Dennis Kucinich and Repubs who are in your camp on some issues, like Ron Paul, who's introducing a bill with Barney Frank to legalize weed. Let Paul know why you can't support him and what you expect of him on other issues like abortion rights. 5. Become a nonpartisan activist on issues that you're especially passionate about. This is working, for example, on same-sex marriage, nuclear weapon abolition and immigrant rights. Bottom line: DO NOT LET DEMS. TAKE YOU FOR GRANTED. That's the worst thing you can do.

Going down this list, I'd say about half of it is good stuff that we should all be doing and the other half is a bunch of obviously empty threats and counterproductivity. I'd say that the time to push the party leftward is, well, everything other than the 3 months leading up to a general election. I agree that we should give money and maybe even vote for the hopeless primary campaigns of guys like kucinich or anybody else that wants to legalize weed, abolish the death penalty, pull out of Afghanistan, or whatever. And once they're in office, we should absolutely support the left wing of the party and berate the rest for not being more like Bernie Sanders.

But when it comes to actually pulling the lever for Republicans, or even refusing to vote, supporting a third party, or just not donating or volunteering, the Dems have us where they want us. The centrists know full well that we have nowhere else to go on election day and there's no getting around it. So the kinds of ultimatums you're proposing are meaningless. If we don't vote for Obama and he loses, then we'll get a Republican that will reliably do Bibi Netanyahu's bidding without having to be asked. If everyone knows this, there's only so much bargaining power we can realistically expect to have.

Don Zeko
06-23-2011, 05:28 PM
are you being serious? It was obviously a typo. if you're going to lecture operative about clarifying before condemning, then practice what you preach. And I wasn't responding to anything more than ONE of Zeke's post; a very short and specific statement he made.

I think Stephanie can be forgiven for thinking "Democrat" was intentional, considering how common that disrespectful tic is on the Right.

operative
06-23-2011, 05:39 PM
I think Stephanie can be forgiven for thinking "Democrat" was intentional, considering how common that disrespectful tic is on the Right.

Why is it disrespectful?

Don Zeko
06-23-2011, 05:41 PM
Why is it disrespectful?

Because it's not the name, and people ought to be called by the correct name. If your real name was Robert and I always called you Bob even after you told me that you didn't like to be called that, that would be disrespectful. This is no different. It's the Democratic Party, not the Democrat Party.

operative
06-23-2011, 05:46 PM
Because it's not the name, and people ought to be called by the correct name. If your real name was Robert and I always called you Bob even after you told me that you didn't like to be called that, that would be disrespectful. This is no different. It's the Democratic Party, not the Democrat Party.

Plenty of people named Robert don't mind being called Rob or Bob. So why the objection over Democrat?

Don Zeko
06-23-2011, 05:52 PM
Plenty of people named Robert don't mind being called Rob or Bob. So why the objection over Democrat?

Because it's no more the name of the party than "Replutocrat" is the name of your party.

operative
06-23-2011, 05:53 PM
Because it's no more the name of the party than "Replutocrat" is the name of your party.

Members of the Democrat(ic) party call themselves Democrats. Members of the Republican party do not call themselves Replotocrats. So your analogy is flawed.

Don Zeko
06-23-2011, 05:58 PM
Members of the Democrat(ic) party call themselves Democrats. Members of the Republican party do not call themselves Replotocrats. So your analogy is flawed.

I can't believe I'm still feeding the troll. Here, stop worrying about what to call the party and just watch this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ). You'll feel better.

operative
06-23-2011, 06:17 PM
I can't believe I'm still feeding the troll. Here, stop worrying about what to call the party and just watch this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ). You'll feel better.

I'm not trolling. The objection seems silly to me and you haven't demonstrated how it is insulting beyond saying that you personally do not like it. If you call yourself a Democrat then how it is insulting to call your party, the party of Democrats, the Democrat party?

look
06-23-2011, 06:21 PM
I can't believe I'm still feeding the troll. Here, stop worrying about what to call the party and just watch this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ). You'll feel better.You bastard.

Op, what's with being stubborn about saying 'Democratic'? You know damn well it's not polite, and it's the same as calling Tea Partiers 'teabaggers' after they stopped calling themselves that when they found out what it meant. It's like calling your sister by her given name when she hates her given name.

You are ruining you credibility as a reasonable person.

graz
06-23-2011, 06:29 PM
Op,
You are ruining you credibility as a reasonable person.

You don't see the problems in that statement, do you?

look
06-23-2011, 06:31 PM
You don't see the problems in that statement, do you?If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem...could you be a dear and butt out?

graz
06-23-2011, 06:36 PM
If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem...could you be a dear and butt out?

Not gonna happen, evah!

sugarkang
06-23-2011, 06:59 PM
I think Republican politicians are way more unified than Democratic politicians; so insofar as we're talking about political parties I agree with you. But I also think liberal intellectuals are way more unified than conservative ones. S

Nailed it.

sugarkang
06-23-2011, 07:12 PM
Op, what's with being stubborn about saying 'Democratic'? You know damn well it's not polite, and it's the same as calling Tea Partiers 'teabaggers' after they stopped calling themselves that when they found out what it meant. It's like calling your sister by her given name when she hates her given name.

You are ruining you credibility as a reasonable person.

I honestly didn't know that was a pejorative. I'm totally saving this shit for later.

look
06-23-2011, 07:15 PM
I honestly didn't know that was a pejorative. I'm totally saving this shit for later.Well, we all have our little tics. Personally, I think the TPers should have embraced being called teabaggers with a 'who cares' attitude.

sugarkang
06-23-2011, 07:25 PM
Well, we all have our little tics. Personally, I think the TPers should have embraced being called teabaggers with a 'who cares' attitude.

Honestly, that's what I would've done. Then again, I'm very socially liberal, I love low-brow humor and I don't use a separate fork for salads. I don't see how you can expect to get the actual Tea Party, a bunch of social cons, to point to their balls and repeatedly do a half squat whenever they're at rallies.

operative
06-23-2011, 07:28 PM
You bastard.

Op, what's with being stubborn about saying 'Democratic'? You know damn well it's not polite, and it's the same as calling Tea Partiers 'teabaggers' after they stopped calling themselves that when they found out what it meant. It's like calling your sister by her given name when she hates her given name.


There's a reason for that though--'Teabagger' is a vulgar term. Democrat is not. I get that Democrats are irked by the usage of the term 'Democrat party.' I just don't get why they are. I don't think I regularly call it the "Democrat party." I like shorthand--Dems.

Compare "Democrat party" with "Demorats." The latter is clearly pejorative, in the same class as "Teabagger" (though not as crude). But the former is not. So I would like to hear from a Democrat why the former is so irksome.

graz
06-23-2011, 07:42 PM
There's a reason for that though--'Teabagger' is a vulgar term.
No it's not. It's slang for a sex act. Completely natural and in keeping with a healthy sex life. Different strokes, I guess.

Nice job attempting to derail the thread. We shouldn't expect any thing better from your starting five plus the benchwarmers.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 07:53 PM
are you being serious? It was obviously a typo.

I'm sorry, but it wasn't obviously a typo. It's a really common tic among some (see DS's posts), as DZ said, and done historically to avoid granting the Dems the name "Democratic." I think it's disrespectful if done purposely.

I wasn't assuming you were doing it purposely, however -- JFK, among others, once got slammed for mispeaking and I wasn't slamming anyone. The phrasing of my question was supposed to be humorous, "it would kill you...?" Perhaps it didn't work in writing, but honestly, it's not like I called you an asshole or anything. Given how often you've jumped on me for crap, I think your reaction is a bit overstated.

Anyway, if Democratic is too long or bothersome in some way (I'm assuming not the latter for you given the reaction), Dem or DP would be less grating. The history and the grammatical murder that some got through to always use Democrat rather than Democratic just makes it a total pet peeve for me.

"lecture operative"

I didn't lecture him.

Wonderment
06-23-2011, 07:58 PM
But when it comes to actually pulling the lever for Republicans, or even refusing to vote, supporting a third party, or just not donating or volunteering, the Dems have us where they want us.

Speak for yourself, I suggest gently.

I think it's a big mistake to send the message to the Party that "No matter what you do or say, I'll support you."

That's a recipe for disaster in any relationship. It almost got me killed once (supporting Dems. when they were quite willing, able and eager to conscript me for a pointless and hideous death in the jungles of Vietnam). I drew the line in the sand at Hubert Humphery, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

And I'm not alone. Democrats took the left for granted in 2000, and they got Naderized. Of course, all self-professed "reasonable" Dems. blamed the loss not on Gore/Lieberman (yes, Lieberman!) themselves but on the progressive electoral "traitors." The Bush victory was a disaster for the known universe --- I don't dispute that. I'm just saying that the left has its limits, and the Party calls our bluff at its peril.

sugarkang
06-23-2011, 07:58 PM
There's a reason for that though--'Teabagger' is a vulgar term. Democrat is not. I get that Democrats are irked by the usage of the term 'Democrat party.' I just don't get why they are. I don't think I regularly call it the "Democrat party." I like shorthand--Dems.

Compare "Democrat party" with "Demorats." The latter is clearly pejorative, in the same class as "Teabagger" (though not as crude). But the former is not. So I would like to hear from a Democrat why the former is so irksome.

operative's reasoning is solid. I'd also like to know why "Democrat Party" takes on a pejorative meaning. There has to be a historical context, I presume? Nothing wrong with the words by themselves. And I promise to never use it, unless, of course, I totally want to.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 08:09 PM
The shift among Republicans on foreign policy is potentially a big deal for a lot of voters.

So far, as I said, I see little to make me think this is other than illusory. If I'm wrong -- say if the Republicans have a fight in their primary and nominate someone dedicated to ending out foreign wars and committing to some kind of more pacifist foreign policy, then I think we would have a fight within the Dems, absolutely, between those who see such objectives as higher priority vs. those who see some of the other issues, like economics, more of a priority. Especially if the change in Republican foreign policy is combined with a Buchananite or libertarian, both of whom tend to be worse on some aspects of domestic policy than the more traditional RINO type.

I can't see it being anyone but Romney or Perry, though, and I thus don't think we are going to have this debate.

But actually there's another element to the supposed Republican shift -- Republicans being opposed to wars in Democratic administrations is nothing new. Republicans thinking Dems are prioritizing the wrong wars or fighting them incorrectly is nothing new. And never has that meant a change in foreign policy that comes close to what I think a pacifist would want. I mean, you could say that Dulles "more bang for the buck" is a kind of Republican foreign policy that I can see being adopted in some modern form. I can see the idea that we need a Republican to just finally say there's nothing more to do in Afghanistan without worrying about looking weak (and without the same criticism that Obama would get -- it is true that a Republican could more easily withdraw from a war right now, but that's a reward for their past hawkishness). Similarly, I can see a Republican foreign policy that's more isolationist or more hesitant to get involved with peace keeping missions or UN led missions, obviously. I don't think that necessarily translates to anything that approaches your more multinational cooperation and more pacifistic aims in a real sense.

The problem is that we've never really had the debate about foreign policy post the Cold War. We started with Gulf War I (which the Republicans took the lesson that we can't have half-hearted engagements from), then we had Clinton criticizing Bush for not doing more to protect people (which he didn't totally follow through on but did result in various military actions), the we had Bush II and his criticism of nation building (we know how that turned out). Then 9/11 and Iraq and the Bush Doctrine on the one side and cowardly and confused Dems on the other, and now all the events of Obama.

What we need is a real national discussion on foreign policy that's not disguised as a left/right debate, since that's always a stupid way to frame it. There will be people of a variety of views, but it seems unlikely to me that we will have a party that strongly reflects yours, so I guess the question becomes given that what it is you want? And I'm asking myself this same question -- it's a question, not an argument.

look
06-23-2011, 08:10 PM
Honestly, that's what I would've done. Then again, I'm very socially liberal, I love low-brow humor and I don't use a separate fork for salads. I don't see how you can expect to get the actual Tea Party, a bunch of social cons, to point to their balls and repeatedly do a half squat whenever they're at rallies.Yeah, I guess.

look
06-23-2011, 08:11 PM
There's a reason for that though--'Teabagger' is a vulgar term. Democrat is not. I get that Democrats are irked by the usage of the term 'Democrat party.' I just don't get why they are. I don't think I regularly call it the "Democrat party." I like shorthand--Dems.

Compare "Democrat party" with "Demorats." The latter is clearly pejorative, in the same class as "Teabagger" (though not as crude). But the former is not. So I would like to hear from a Democrat why the former is so irksome.Some things you do, you do to keep the peace, and for no other reason :)

operative
06-23-2011, 08:19 PM
Some things you do, you do to keep the peace, and for no other reason :)

No justice, no peace. No peace, no justice!

graz
06-23-2011, 08:26 PM
No justice, no peace. No peace, no justice!

You and wonderment are the equal sides of the teabag:
http://www.thelooseleaves.com/post/1082444284/history-lesson-the-tea-bag

stephanie
06-23-2011, 08:31 PM
Dems. have held left voters hostage for decades. There are a lot of ways we can work on changing this.

To convince me these will work, I think you'd have to connect them to why things are the way they are. For example:

1 join a third party. This doesn't mean you have to vote for all their candidates.

I don't see how this makes the Dems more left. It takes your voice out of the equation. Maybe it makes them think they have to beg for your vote more, but given the overall context, I think it makes your issues seem more extreme and thus the Dems more fearful of expressing support. But it would be worth looking at.

2. Refuse to contribute money or time to Dem candidates, and let them know why.

I think this marginalizes you and I see no evidence it has worked.

3. Make deals and give ultimatums. Example: If Obama blocks the Palestinian statehood vote at the UN in the fall, he loses my vote.

Doing this kind of thing in a block I think is more useful than simply telling people this, especially when -- as here -- there's an organized and powerful lobby (AIPAC) on the other side, as well as a lot of people within the party who have opposing views.

Indeed, this is a good example of how I think the left's kneejerk reactions of anger at the Dems for not immediately doing their will is a mistake. I think you see this as a moral issue, and thus if the Dems act the other way, they are immoral and you won't support them. You don't seem to judge the Republicans in this kind of emotional or angry way when they act different than you'd like. For example, the Republicans will put huge pressure on Obama wrt this issue, of course. Yet your anger seems not to be directed to them at all, but solely at the Dems. Pragmatically, rather than reacting in this way -- if you disagree with me you are unacceptable! -- I think there ought to be more effective ways to convince the party that these issues are important to many people. Because as it is, I bet the DP thinks, and probably thinks correctly, that they piss off more potential Dem voters agreeing with you on this issue. They might do it anyway, but I just think there has to be a more effective way on this range of issues. Right now you aren't getting what you want, the Dems are continuing to move right, and the threat ends up marginalizing you or getting Republicans who are less likely to act as you want on this issue elected.

One thing I'd say is that it probably makes sense to push for leftwing policies first at more local (and Congressional) levels, rather than assume the president will make the change more unilaterally when his party isn't on board. And again I see the right providing a better model for this.

4. Stay in touch with and financially support consistent left leaders like Dennis Kucinich and Repubs who are in your camp on some issues, like Ron Paul, who's introducing a bill with Barney Frank to legalize weed. Let Paul know why you can't support him and what you expect of him on other issues like abortion rights. 5. Become a nonpartisan activist on issues that you're especially passionate about. This is working, for example, on same-sex marriage, nuclear weapon abolition and immigrant rights.

I generally agree with this.

However, I'd also point out that you probably need to address the perception among the Dems that getting tagged as leftwing or with some of the statements of the people you prefer (like Kucinich) kills them among conservative Dems and independents, and that they need those groups to win. And they think they need them more crucially than your wing, due to numbers and money. Therefore, and this is not the same as the right, so I could be wrong here, I think it's worth considering tactics and why this might be. One thing that could change this is if your issues weren't thought of as extreme ones, ones that only "the left" cares about, but are ones that appeal to independents or some Republicans. If you can do this with the war issues, great. I think there's potential to move left on some economic-type things due to this, and I think social issues in some cases play this way (which is why the Dems tend to adopt the stances). But if the Dems get more leverage by Sister Souljah'ing you, you haven't gained anything. And if the Dems are being tagged by the Republicans with your stances (as in '04), that's going to scare the Dems away.

I'm not saying I have the answer, I just think you need to consider why what happens does in order to figure out how it might change. And it happens because of political considerations, as well as real disagreement and people not being convinced of the rightness of your positions.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 08:32 PM
I can't believe I'm still feeding the troll. Here, stop worrying about what to call the party and just watch this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ). You'll feel better.

We definitely need more YouTube links around here.

Major points.

look
06-23-2011, 08:40 PM
No justice, no peace. No peace, no justice!First you want logic, now you want justice...

operative
06-23-2011, 08:41 PM
First you want logic, now you want justice...

Logic leads to justice.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 08:42 PM
Of course, all self-professed "reasonable" Dems. blamed the loss not on Gore/Lieberman (yes, Lieberman!) themselves but on the progressive electoral "traitors."

This is a total overstatement. There has been plenty of criticism of the Gore campaign. On the other hand, a friend of mine who voted for Nader went around apologizing after that election. I told her if we were in Florida I might be mad, but it seemed silly to blame her given the fact it wasn't even close in my state and if it were that year the national election wouldn't have been.

That said, the premise of the Nader people that there was no difference (which is what they kept claiming where I live, anyway) was ridiculous. And the campaign didn't work, because does anyone even remember what it was that caused those people not to vote for Gore? What statement they were trying to make? I bet outside of those who voted for Nader -- and only some of them -- and a very few others, the answer is no. It thus merely created the notion that some people are always going to carp and that they are the extreme left, playing into this notion that we are all aligned along one axis, so the Dems need to push left.

The better strategy seems to me to convince them that there are lots of people who wouldn't vote or who are more in the center who would vote Dem if you could energize them by changing the Dem policies on certain issues. That we aren't just talking about more or less left but getting more populist or more pro peace or so on. (Although I remain skeptical about the success of the focus on peace, I hope I'm wrong.)

And I think you need really specific policies to push. Not just "be less warlike" or "like corporations less."

(For the record, I like corporations fine.)

Oh, and because I decided we need more YouTube's here's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw) "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" for you, as an acknowledgement that we've been frustrating you all for a long, long time. Or to personalize it less, that these debates have been going on forever.

According to Conservapedia this is a great conservative song, which just proves that it's all about who makes you mad, not what you stand for.

operative
06-23-2011, 08:44 PM
I think this marginalizes you and I see no evidence it has worked.

If you're not willing to do so, you have no credible threat. If you want to change things, you need to make the alternative to not listening to you worse than listening to you. So you'd need enough people to refuse to donate to the party until they adopted whatever view you were thinking of. You need to be willing to punish the party and suffer in the short term to produce long term change.

graz
06-23-2011, 08:47 PM
If you're not willing to do so, you have no credible threat. If you want to change things, you need to make the alternative to not listening to you worse than listening to you. So you'd need enough people to refuse to donate to the party until they adopted whatever view you were thinking of. You need to be willing to punish the party and suffer in the short term to produce long term change.

You do know that we know that you are a political operative for the other party, right?

operative
06-23-2011, 08:50 PM
You do know that we know that you are a political operative for the other party, right?

I may be Operative but I am not a Political Operative.

look
06-23-2011, 08:51 PM
Logic leads to justice.Compromise leads to trust.

graz
06-23-2011, 08:52 PM
I may be Operative but I am not a Political Operative.

In honor of my absent friend:
Noted for the record.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 08:56 PM
If you're not willing to do so, you have no credible threat.

Oh, right! Just like Matt Welch is such an idiot for not voting for McCain. Because if he wasn't willing to refrain from voting for McCain, he had no credible... Uh, wait, that's not working out.

:-)

operative
06-23-2011, 09:15 PM
Oh, right! Just like Matt Welch is such an idiot for not voting for McCain. Because if he wasn't willing to refrain from voting for McCain, he had no credible... Uh, wait, that's not working out.

:-)

Heh. There's a difference between House and Senate elections and Presidential elections--one member of congress generally has a minute influence. The president has a huge influence.

sugarkang
06-23-2011, 09:21 PM
You need to be willing to punish the party and suffer in the short term to produce long term change.

Is game theory built into religious texts? And did anybody read Evolution of God?

Oh, and who knew there was an actual Wikipedia entry on the pejorative moniker for the Democratic Party. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democrat_Party_(phrase))

"Ruth Marcus stated that Republicans likely only continue to employ the term because Democrats dislike it.[7] Marcus stated that disagreements over use of the term are "trivial",[7] and Hertzberg calls use of the term "a minor irritation."

"NPR has banned the use of "Democrat" as an adjective."

It just says oodles about what we perceive to be the problem and the solution. For me, it's the prohibition that makes it tantalizing, or as Luis Bunuel said: "Sex without sin is like eggs without salt."

Ban the salt, man! Ban it!

look
06-23-2011, 09:23 PM
Is game theory built into religious texts? And did anybody read Evolution of God? tl;dr

chiwhisoxx
06-23-2011, 10:18 PM
In honor of my absent friend:
Noted for the record.

aww man, let a sick dog die

look
06-23-2011, 10:47 PM
aww man, let a sick dog dieBrendan's okay. We don't get along, but when all is said and done, he's a friend.

chiwhisoxx
06-23-2011, 10:55 PM
Brendan's okay. We don't get along, but when all is said and done, he's a friend.

well i'm happy for you, but that's you, not everyone else.

operative
06-23-2011, 10:58 PM
well i'm happy for you, but that's you, not everyone else.

Indeed.

graz
06-23-2011, 11:17 PM
he's a friend.

I don't think that word means what you would like it to mean.

graz
06-23-2011, 11:19 PM
aww man, let a sick dog die
It's not my call. Also, he's neither sick nor a dog. There's still hope for you though.

rfrobison
06-24-2011, 02:59 AM
I don't mean to pick on you personally, because basically every partisan everywhere thinks this to some degree or another. I'm sure that I'm frequently guilty of it too. We all think (http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2010/10/iron-law-of-politics-beanbag-this-aint.html) that the other side is more coordinated, more ruthless, and more extreme than our side. But compared to the way debates about taxation, government services, regulation, and so forth played out in the 50's or 60's, today's Democrats are incredibly mealy-mouthed and friendly with corporate interests. There's a world of difference between the party that passed the GI Bill, created Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and today's Democratic party that failed to repeal the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000 and couldn't pull together a Senate majority for the Public Option, and barely passed a halfhearted and industry-friendly set of banking regulations when the finance industry is more justly despised than it has been in decades.

There are a number of explanations for this, as I see it. Others have already mentioned the decline of organized labor, so I'll leave that aside.

In a very real sense, the reason the Democrats have less apetite for doing "big new things" than they did before is that the government's a heck of a lot bigger, both in absolute and relative terms, than it was even in the '60s. We're all welfare staters now. (Yes, yes the libertarians: Their influence is wildly exaggerated. Personally I they had more, but...). You're victims of your own success

And with the civil rights movement, and particularly and the antiwar movement during and after Vietnam, the Democrats took a sharp left turn on social and cultural issues. People like Thomas Frank think the working class has been sold a bill of goods by the Republicans on that score. He's applying an essentially Marxist analysis to American politics. The working class is suffering from a false consciousness. In his view, economics, i.e., taking money from the rich in the form of higher taxes and giving it to the less rich, should trump all other considerations.

This just shows how little the elites on the left understand. False consciousness or no, things like religion and "family values" and patriotism matter to the working classes. They don't want to be told that they're "clinging" to religion or guns and that hunting and going to church is for rubes. They don't want to be told that the U.S. is just another imperial power, no better or worse than any other in history. But like it or not, that is the message that comes through from many on the cultural left today. A lot of otherwise sympathetic voters feel they have nowhere else to go but to the Republicans.

rfrobison
06-24-2011, 03:47 AM
Not gonna happen, evah!

So much for Stephanie's effort to elevate the discourse....

sugarkang
06-24-2011, 09:38 AM
A lot of otherwise sympathetic voters feel they have nowhere else to go but to the Republicans.

Well said, and I don't mean just this part that I'm quoting, but sometimes I describe myself as grudgingly Republican. I just remember a few years ago when there was a tiny effort toward Liberaltarianism, the argument was that the liberal left was better than the conservative right on social issues and that there was a natural coalition to be had there.

Fast forward a few years and Rand Paul, coming from one of the reddest of red states, cares more about my personal liberty and ending the Patriot Act than liberals (even if Dems are still generally better on this). It takes a pro-life conservative to take a principled, not pragmatic, stance against the War on Drugs?

AemJeff
06-24-2011, 09:42 AM
So much for Stephanie's effort to elevate the discourse....

I'm pretty certain that graz sees his role as directly aligned with that goal.

rfrobison
06-24-2011, 10:12 AM
I'm pretty certain that graz sees his role as directly aligned with that goal.


Hmm, well, I think Graz is a funny guy (?) and I don't mind his jokes, etc. but I wonder how useful it is to jump all over Op, Look, Badhat and the gang every time they post anything at all...

graz
06-24-2011, 11:10 AM
So much for Stephanie's effort to elevate the discourse....

I'm pretty certain that graz sees his role as directly aligned with that goal.


Rob,
Jeff answered it succinctly and nearly completely. I would change sees to compelled.

I wish that this forum were mainly a battleground of ideas. It's more often a struggle of positioning and allegiance building. When that's the tenor here, you often respond by expressing a range of emotions including regret, recrimination, chiding, etc. Which is sometimes followed by guilty admission or acknowledgement of shared, but rarely equal culpability.

I'm less complicated. I react too quickly, rarely examine my conscience and revel in near-potty humor. I enjoy deflating windbags and am suspect of surplus sincerity -- particularly when held by ideological opponents.

And unlike that collegial body know as the U.S. Senate -- where they bow and yield to their "good friend" on the other side of the aisle (that they likely despise), I don't cotton to that BS. I reject your attempt (first quote above) to implicate me as proof that "we can't have nice things". There's always hope.

rfrobison
06-24-2011, 11:20 AM
Rob,
Jeff answered it succinctly and nearly completely. I would change sees to compelled.

I wish that this forum were mainly a battleground of ideas. It's more often a struggle of positioning and allegiance building. When that's the tenor here, you often respond by expressing a range of emotions including regret, recrimination, chiding, etc. Which is sometimes followed by guilty admission or acknowledgement of shared, but rarely equal culpability.

I'm less complicated. I react too quickly, rarely examine my conscience and revel in near-potty humor. I enjoy deflating windbags and am suspect of surplus sincerity -- particularly when held by ideological opponents.

And unlike that collegial body know as the U.S. Senate -- where they bow and yield to their "good friend" on the other side of the aisle (that they likely despise), I don't cotton to that BS. I reject your attempt (first quote above) to implicate me as proof that "we can't have nice things". There's always hope.

OK. Do what you think you must. I, for my part, reject your attempt to portray me as duplicitous. I don't know on what basis you conclude I "rarely [admit] equal culpability" for the lack of civility here. Nor do I know how to measure one person's culpability against another's. Ultimately that is something each of us must determine for ourselves.

As for "surplus sincerity," I suppose it's a matter of taste.

Later.

sugarkang
06-24-2011, 12:07 PM
I wish that this forum were mainly a battleground of ideas. It's more often a struggle of positioning and allegiance building. When that's the tenor here, you often respond by expressing a range of emotions including regret, recrimination, chiding, etc.

I think it is a battleground of ideas, but it's a matter of expectations. When two people are directly engaged in debate, it amounts to one trying to convince the other of her own stupidity. That's an impossible battle. The utility of the debate, then, is largely in the reading by non-debaters. So, the battle has less to do with the soldiers than the spectators.

Regarding your second statement, I must disagree again. See the post here where I defended your "potty humor. (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=6831)" Of all the posters I've encountered so far, operative is the one closest to my own political ideology. And yet, I'm sure that he knows that I'm not laughing at his expense. I don't believe the rule should be: you can post it if it's funny. That's putting the cart before the horse, i.e., we won't know that it's funny until you try. Sometimes people fail by coming off as an asshole. That's the price we pay if we want funny things to happen. So, for the record, I approve your childish antics, even if some others from my ideological side disagree. And by that fact alone, I ask that you give people the benefit of the doubt.

With respect to both of these points, I urge you and anyone else to read my post on the charge that Republicans tend to be the party of homophobes and racists. (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpost.php?p=214012&postcount=8) Oh, and please add your own thoughts on the matter. I think we tend to overlook and discount the good things that happen on this site the way that news media has a bias towards sensationalism and conflict (according to Sir Jon Stewart).

popcorn_karate
06-24-2011, 06:02 PM
I'm not trolling. The objection seems silly to me and you haven't demonstrated how it is insulting beyond saying that you personally do not like it. If you call yourself a Democrat then how it is insulting to call your party, the party of Democrats, the Democrat party?

any time you decide to change somebody's name without their consent and against their wishes it is rude. The reason republicans started using this language was to annoying democrats. its petty and ridiculous - so you decide if you want to be petty and ridiculous or not.

popcorn_karate
06-24-2011, 06:09 PM
Op, what's with being stubborn about saying 'Democratic'? You know damn well it's not polite, and it's the same as calling Tea Partiers 'teabaggers' after they stopped calling themselves that when they found out what it meant. It's like calling your sister by her given name when she hates her given name.



hilarious! the one of the first intelligent things you've posted, except that you thought being honest and truthful was the same as snark, which undermines the whole "intelligent" part.

really its kind of beautiful in how much it says about you and the ouroboros quality of your thoughts.

Don Zeko
06-24-2011, 06:12 PM
We definitely need more YouTube links around here.

Major points.

I'm getting the feeling that the full import (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_roll) of my link was lost on people.

popcorn_karate
06-24-2011, 06:21 PM
I'm getting the feeling that the full import (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_roll) of my link was lost on people.

oh i got it, and you got me!

last time i was rick-rolled my buddy downloaded a DIVx movie for me, i was all excited to watch it, got home and popped in an entire DVD worth of rick : (

operative
06-24-2011, 06:32 PM
any time you decide to change somebody's name without their consent and against their wishes it is rude. The reason republicans started using this language was to annoying democrats. its petty and ridiculous - so you decide if you want to be petty and ridiculous or not.

Ah, finally an explanation that makes some sense. I can see the point you're making, though it seems fairly common for people to have nicknames assigned to them by others. I suppose though that it's A*B. I'm inclined to believe that if Democrats stopped complaining about it, folks like Rush Limbaugh would stop doing it--they do it because it annoys them.

stephanie
06-24-2011, 06:45 PM
In a very real sense, the reason the Democrats have less apetite for doing "big new things" than they did before is that the government's a heck of a lot bigger, both in absolute and relative terms, than it was even in the '60s. We're all welfare staters now.

I don't think this is really the reason, because the Dems moved right and supported the dismantling of various accepted regulations, regulations that would have been agreed upon by both parties in an earlier period. In some cases I agreed with this -- I'm not a leftwinger, I just think there's something weird about a political system that would define me as such. The arguments we have been having about health care and Medicare and SocSec and taxation aren't really based on new big ideas that have failed, but are all old programs or old ideas. You know, the whole "Nixon's health care proposal was more radical than Obama's" thing.

Beyond that, I really don't think it makes sense to talk generally about the size of the government. Are people in your tax bracket more highly taxed than in the '60s? Are you touched by more government regulations? I'd say no, the size of the government has only increased in perceptable ways due to (1) the drug war, and (2) the war on terror, neither of which is the result of increased liberalism and neither of which seems to be on the way out. If anything the Dems have basically come around to conservatism on these, which is part of my complaint.

Now if you want to talk in specifics, I might agree more. I would agree that the Republicans have done a good job of painting the Dems as the party of dumb interferences with freedom, in part based on real changes (cigarette laws) and in part based on a few dumb regulations and bizarre overreactions (banning foie gras is dumb, acting as if a requirement that food products contain information about what they contain and calories is an attack on freedom is dumber). However, so far as I can tell, the Dems have become more interested in these kinds of regulations (and the V chip and school uniforms, blah, blah) as part of the move rightward that I've been talking about, and if anything they've made them more popular among certain groups, like independents. So I don't buy the idea that we are moving right because people are fed up with big government. That sounds like libertarian wishful thinking, not a real explanation.

And with the civil rights movement, and particularly and the antiwar movement during and after Vietnam, the Democrats took a sharp left turn on social and cultural issues.

I believe this story is part of why we have the realignment that I talked about upthread, yes. I don't think it's much relevant to politics in '11 or even back in '92 or even earlier, however.

False consciousness or no, things like religion and "family values" and patriotism matter to the working classes.

Sure, they matter to me too, and most Dems I know. The idea that the Dems are against these things would be bizarre, except that I know that's the argument the right has been making.

stephanie
06-24-2011, 06:51 PM
I'm getting the feeling that the full import (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_roll) of my link was lost on people.

Ah, I didn't know that. I figured it had to do with being unable to drop a silly argument or one's attachment to posting in a thread one has no interest in the topic of.

Now it's especially funny.

That said, I remain in favor of more YouTubes and other musical visual aids.

sugarkang
06-24-2011, 06:54 PM
I'm inclined to believe that if Democrats stopped complaining about it, folks like Rush Limbaugh would stop doing it--they do it because it annoys them.

I wonder if the rules can be summed up like this:

Democrats: everyone should try not to be rude to anyone else.
Libertarians: everyone should try to be a bit more thick skinned.

One requires coercion; the other does not. However, as a practical matter, both seem perfectly reasonable.

stephanie
06-24-2011, 06:58 PM
I wonder if the rules can be summed up like this

Since the "rules" are being taken from my comment, they are as follows:

(1) people are going to be rude, that's life, obviously we shouldn't employ coercion as a remedy;

(2) if people are rude, it's worth pointing out if you think they are generally non rude people, as they might act differently if they know it bugs people;

(3) if people actively choose to act rudely even after knowing it bugs people, then we can draw conclusions about their intentions and respect for others.

None of this has much to do with my political beliefs. They are more based on manners 101.

I think talk about this is generally off-topic, anyway, so maybe we can start a thread about the topic and not go on about it in this one? I won't be participating, but others do seem quite interested in theorizing about the subject.

graz
06-24-2011, 07:06 PM
Since the "rules" are being taken from my comment, they are as follows:

(1) people are going to be rude, that's life, obviously we shouldn't employ coercion as a remedy;

(2) if people are rude, it's worth pointing out if you think they are generally non rude people, as they might act differently if they know it bugs people;

(3) if people actively choose to act rudely even after knowing it bugs people, then we can draw conclusions about their intentions and respect for others.

None of this has much to do with my political beliefs. They are more based on manners 101.

I think talk about this is generally off-topic, anyway, so maybe we can start a thread about the topic and not go on about it in this one? I won't be participating, but others do seem quite interested in theorizing about the subject.
Out of respect (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FOUqQt3Kg0) I've posted what you requested more of.

operative
06-24-2011, 07:14 PM
Out of respect (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FOUqQt3Kg0) I've posted what you requested more of.

Be careful, because too much (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGqwSAVm3Ls) of a good thing can be bad.

sugarkang
06-24-2011, 08:55 PM
None of this has much to do with my political beliefs. They are more based on manners 101.

I think talk about this is generally off-topic, anyway, so maybe we can start a thread about the topic and not go on about it in this one? I won't be participating, but others do seem quite interested in theorizing about the subject.

I know. I was just making an observation and wondering if it had any merit. It's oversimplified, obviously. I think simplification is required when trying to reach for the sine qua non of moral difference. I think that's the first time I've used that Latin shit in a sentence.

If by chance you found the previous observation offensive, it was not my intention. This is why I added the last sentence to mention: both seem reasonable.

rfrobison
06-24-2011, 10:06 PM
I don't think this [overextended government] is really the reason [why there is little appetite for a larger welfare state], because the Dems moved right and supported the dismantling of various accepted regulations, regulations that would have been agreed upon by both parties in an earlier period.


This is a broad discussion, so it's kind of hard to respond. If you look at the size of the government's rulebook regulating workplace, food, or drug safety, or workplace diversity, to name just a few examples, my guess is that there's more of it than before and not less. That could be good or bad, and much of it seems aimed at avoiding civil litigation rather than top-down government regulation. But whatever is driving these changes, I simply don't see the wholesale dismantling of government regulation that allegedly took place under Reagan-Bush I-Clinton that so many on the left seem to.

In some cases I agreed with this. ...The arguments we have been having about health care and Medicare and SocSec and taxation aren't really based on new big ideas that have failed, but are all old programs or old ideas. You know, the whole "Nixon's health care proposal was more radical than Obama's" thing.

Again, it depends on which specific policies you refer to. Carter did away with the Civil Aeronautics Board, which regulated airfares, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, which did the same for the road and rail freight industries. These deregulatory steps are generally viewed as a success. The industries are more efficient and profitable (at least trucking and rail are) and airfares are much lower, adjusted for inflation, than they were.

The Glass-Stegal act separating commercial and investment banking was allowed to wither on the vine under Clinton, the thinking being that American banks, to compete with big banks overseas, needed to grow, and that financial innovation had blurred the line between commercial and investment banking to the point where the regulatory wall between them was meaningless.

In light of the recent meltdown, the financial deregulation cannot be called an unalloyed success. But it sure seemed to be working well during the long boom. And the tale as told by some in Congress, which simply blames "free-market fundamentalism," or deregulation per se for the troubles glosses over the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, plus the Fed, in inflating the bubble. The financial crisis had many fathers. Mis-regulation was as much a problem as de-regulation.

Speaking more generally, I'd say a lot of the impetus behind the deregulation we saw in the late '70s through, say, the late '90s was driven by a sense that the efforts to fine-tune the economy through fiscal and monetary "demand-side" management weren't working. You're probably too young to remember stagflation or gas lines. I was just a wee tyke myself, but even I knew something was seriously amiss with the economic model bequeathed by Keynes and the New Deal. (Though I wouldn't have put it in those terms!)

176

Sorry, tried to attach a graphic from a recent "Economist" report called "Taming Leviathan." Didn't turn out so well. If you zoom in, you can make out the figures -- barely. Interested readers should take a look at the original article.
--TO BE CONTINUED-- (know you can't wait! ;))

rfrobison
06-25-2011, 04:17 AM
--CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS--

The arguments we have been having about health care and Medicare and SocSec and taxation aren't really based on new big ideas that have failed, but are all old programs or old ideas. You know, the whole "Nixon's health care proposal was more radical than Obama's" thing.

I wanted to come back to this bit. To put it a bit facetiously, I'd say these are old ideas and programs that are showing their age, hence the need for change.

Nixon's domestic policy is often held up by Democrats these days to demonstrate just how "extremist" the Republicans have become on economics. But people in rightish think tanks and the like have known for decades that Nixon was no free marketeer. He imposed wage and price controls to try and stamp out inflation. It didn't work. He created the Environmental Protection Agency, which I personally think was a good thing, but nevertheless imposes real costs on businesses (and thereby employment, growth and consumer welfare) through its regulatory powers. In short, Nixon was a product of the Great Depression and the New Deal. The Democrats won that argument, again, until the wheels came off in the '70s.

Beyond that, I really don't think it makes sense to talk generally about the size of the government.

Why the heck not? If the government's share of the economic pie is growing and growing as the chart at the bottom of my previous post indicates, it's at least fair to ask whether people are getting value for their money.

Are people in your tax bracket more highly taxed than in the '60s? Are you touched by more government regulations?

The short answer to the first question is I don't know. I've never paid income taxes in the U.S. If I had, I imagine as someone close to the median income, my overall tax would probably be slightly lower than that for median income earners of the 1960s. It's hard to say. There are a lot of variables--sources of income, availability of tax credits, etc., such that comparisons are difficult.

But I've argued over and over that headline rates on income tax are far less of a drag on our economy than the complexities of our tax code. Milton Friedman had a famous quip about how when the government couldn't make any charges against Al Capone stick, they went after him for tax evasion. There probably isn't one person in a hundred who couldn't be found guilty of some technical violation of the tax code. That is the problem that concerns me the most.

You want to say the top tax rate should be 39.2% or whatever instead of 25%, that's fine with me. But while we're busy getting the fat cats to cough up, could we PLEASE make compliance a little simpler for individuals and companies? Could we please stop punishing savers and investors in favor of spenders?

The answer to your second question is no, but then I'm not a small business owner or an executive overseeing a large firm that has to comply with Washington's massive and ever-changing regulatory burden and tax code. I'm just a wage slave.

I'd say no, the size of the government has only increased in perceptible ways due to (1) the drug war, and (2) the war on terror, neither of which is the result of increased liberalism and neither of which seems to be on the way out. If anything the Dems have basically come around to conservatism on these, which is part of my complaint.


Not buying the first bit of this argument, Steph. No doubt the drug war, and the less metaphorical wars we're fighting now are costly, but defense spending is something like 4.5% of GDP now, including the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, compared to somewhere around 6% of GDP during the Cold War. Domestic security spending has ballooned, sure. But I doubt it's large enough to add another 1.5 percentage points of GDP. I could be wrong, but I doubt I'm that far off.

The Pentagon, Medicare, Social Security. Add on the cost of the new health care package. These are the four sacred cows that are going to have to be slaughtered if we're going to make any headway at all on getting spending under control.

Now if you want to talk in specifics, I might agree more. I would agree that the Republicans have done a good job of painting the Dems as the party of dumb interferences with freedom, in part based on real changes (cigarette laws) and in part based on a few dumb regulations and bizarre overreactions (banning foix gras is dumb, acting as if a requirement that food products contain information about what they contain and calories is an attack on freedom is dumber). However, so far as I can tell, the Dems have become more interested in these kinds of regulations (and the V chip and school uniforms, blah, blah) as part of the move rightward that I've been talking about, and if anything they've made them more popular among certain groups, like independents. So I don't buy the idea that we are moving right because people are fed up with big government. That sounds like libertarian wishful thinking, not a real explanation.

I don't buy the idea that we're moving right at all. At least when it comes to economic policy we haven't been since at least Bush II. However, the nanny state rules you refer to above strike me more as petty annoyances than serious problems, except insofar as they encourage our already litigation-happy society to become still more litigious. (Sorry, don't mean to take a hammer to your iron rice bowl! ;))

I don't think [the "culture war"] [i]s much relevant to politics in '11 or even back in '92 or even earlier, however.

I agree that it's less relevant than before. As far as I can tell, all the serious Republican candidates are soft-pedaling social conservatism this time out. (Rick Santorum doesn't count as serious.) If Pat Buchanan's famous declaration at the Republican convention in '92 was a call to arms, it looks as if our side has been comprehensively smashed. Now, those of us on the right who care about these things at all must content ourselves to be more guerrillas than foot-soldiers in the culture war. Oh, well.

Sure, [religion, family values, patriotism] matter to me too, and most Dems I know. The idea that the Dems are against these things would be bizarre, except that I know that's the argument the right has been making.

I'm sure they do. But I wasn't talking about you specifically or rank-and-file Democrats. I'm talking about opinion leaders in academia, the arts and the media who set the intellectual agenda for what defines liberalism in the early 21st century. I've certainly sat in on enough poli-sci seminars to know that expressing skepticism about the U.S. role in on the international stage is de rigeur, whereas holding a positive view of the WTO, say, is enough to get you ostracized. (I could tell you some stories about my master's program, boy!)

Obama comes from this milieu. In one breath he's soaring rhetorically about people who "worship a mighty God in the blue states." Flash forward a few years and he's dripping with condescension toward the peasants "clinging to guns and religion" in front of wealthy liberal donors in San Francisco, no doubt to nods and smiles all round. The first lady-to-be avers that the election of her husband is the "first time I've ever felt proud to be American." Given the suffering of Blacks in the U.S. historically, that sentiment is understandable, but it certainly sounds like she's dissing America to a lot of people.

In short, the Democrats have a PR problem with blue-collar types. They know when they're being talked down to and they don't like it. Thomas Frank can whine all he wants about how Republican appeals to tradition are so much malarky, and how the middle and lower income voters who support them are dupes, but that hardly helps the Democrats' cause.

OK, I've gone way longer than I wanted. Sorry. Look forward to hearing back.

sugarkang
06-25-2011, 09:24 AM
Milton Friedman had a famous quip about how when the government couldn't make any charges against Al Capone stick, they went after him for tax evasion. There probably isn't one person in a hundred who couldn't be found guilty of some technical violation of the tax code. That is the problem that concerns me the most.

I've seen it mentioned on this board about libertarianism being a vague abstraction and childish nonsense, but this is a focus that we have that very few do. We are vigilant against those in power, but Democrats or Republicans only question power when they don't have it. Contrary to John Adams, we are not a nation of laws, but of group interests. Laws are a toolbox of coercion, enforced at the whim of those in power to lend the air of legitimacy. Obama administration's refusal to defend DOMA is a case in point (not that I like DOMA).



You want to say the top tax rate should be 39.2% or whatever instead of 25%, that's fine with me.

This is what I say to my liberal friends as well. But then after we've pushed up the tax rate on evil rich people to their heart's content, I wonder if they are willing to do the necessary spending cuts? With the recent administration using 30 million barrels of oil, pulled from our emergency reserve, I don't think so. Democrats don't see anything wrong with this, of course. This is just the beginning of a Keynesian slippery slope and I'm not anti-Keynes.


But while we're busy getting the fat cats to cough up, could we PLEASE make compliance a little simpler for individuals and companies? Could we please stop punishing savers and investors in favor of spenders?
I believe this is the crux of Mankiw vs. Krugman. I've started to wonder if Krugman believes in a "natural inflation rate." At a recent MIT symposium, Krugman mentioned that we still had other options besides QE to try and stimulate the economy. He suggested targeting 5% inflation, but that it would be politically impossible. Mankiw seemed to have an "okay, you're fucking insane" look on his face, but that's probably me projecting.

I wish a heavyweight would speak on the subject. I believe Megan McArdle said that hyperinflation is good in the short run but fucks us in the long run, but that doesn't really speak to a policy that targets a slightly higher than the 2-3% now.


I don't buy the idea that we're moving right at all. At least when it comes to economic policy we haven't been since at least Bush II.
Yep. It used to perfectly acceptable to be homophobic in the 1980s. Now? Not so much. On the social side of things, there's no question that we have become more permissive. I mean the Larry Flynt case was in the 1980s, wasn't it? And on the fiscal side of things, I think Dems see an illusion of right wing austerity when for the past 20 years it's been a choice between spend a bunch of money or spend a shit ton of money; The former seems like "the other side" when, in fact, it's just more of the same.

So, why do you want Huntsman, again? Of the moderate Republicans, I favor him, but only because he speaks Chinese. It has nothing to do with believing he'll do anything about fiscal matters, so I'd sooner vote Obama (and most likely will). Is it the motorbike thing or the band "Wizard"? :)

stephanie
06-25-2011, 09:55 AM
Just to make sure we have the correct context, this thread started because of the debates that kept coming up between Dems who are angry at the DP for being insufficiently left on a number of issues and who want to punish the Dems by not supporting them and Dems who acknowledge that the DP has disappointed those on the left in some ways but are more sympathetic to the current administration given the road blocks or, in the alternative, think that there are structural problems that prevent the Dems from supporting leftwing views on various issues. To the extent we see structural problems or other explanations, we have been talking about those, to try and figure out how someone who wants more leftwing views to be represented might combat them.

My belief, for example, is that the kinds of angry reactions that we are getting from some on the left are unhelpful specifically because they don't address the real reasons the Dems are moving right. Contrary to the mischaracterization by some, my dislike of the purist leftwing approach is not because I think we should love Obama for everything he does (I don't, after all), but because I think they are actually making the situation they dislike worse. They might personally feel better afterwards, but the result will be ever more RW policies.

For example, I think building a third party to pressure the Dems could make sense, but it doesn't make sense to focus a third party only on the highest offices. That's not a serious effort at building support for issues, it merely hurts the presidential candidate it takes votes from. I could see a third party as a reasonable strategy on the local level, but it's basically unnecessary -- there's a lot of diversity within the Dems, so most likely there are perfectly decent local candidates to support, at least in the primary, but also one could certainly like one's own more leftwing representative, say, and still be unhappy with the national Dems (or Dem who represent other districts or states). This would be my current position. I don't dislike my representative, so I don't see why I should leave the Dems to support a third party.

All that is background to my addressing your comments, Rob, as I think we are starting to get a little unfocused.

This is a broad discussion, so it's kind of hard to respond. If you look at the size of the government's rulebook regulating workplace, food, or drug safety, or workplace diversity, to name just a few examples, my guess is that there's more of it than before and not less.

You seem to be arguing here that my idea that there are structural problems that have lead to the Dems moving right over the course of the last 30 years or so is wrong and instead it's purely public opinion. Now, in part I think it is public opinion, but public opinion that results in large part from a realignment and change in who is in power in the Dems and Republicans both.

But I don't think that the issues we are mostly talking about can be explained so easily or generally as "we went as far left as Americans are willing to go!" which seems to be your argument. The timing of the changes I'm talking about don't really link up, nor does public opinion when we look at specifics. Again, if we look at the amount of gov't that affects people's lives and whether it comes from liberalism in particular, I don't believe we've seen a real increase during my lifetime, let alone my adult lifetime. So the idea that people are just reacting to that seems wrong. Indeed, contrary to what you might like to think, there's no evidence that the average American thinks we need to cut the major gov't programs that affect him, like, well, Medicare and SocSec.

These deregulatory steps are generally viewed as a success.

I actually am in favor of some deregulation. (Like I said, I liked Clinton. Indeed, '92 was my first election, and if the DLC hadn't taken charge I easily could have seen myself as a liberal Republican and generally okay with Bush I. What has changed is not really my politics, but the fact that we are now in a climate where the old-school Republicans are gone and what used to be seen as conservative or pragmatic Dems are now being portrayed as Socialists! I think we need a left with a voice, even if I'm not naturally part of it. Also, and this is a change, I think events since '92 have shown that the pragmatists don't know everything and were too quick to ignore some of the concerns of the left.)

But my point about the trends wasn't to argue about deregulation or claim that we'd wholesale dismantled everything, it was to point out that you can't claim that we've been in a period of ever increasing government due to liberal principles. The increased government lately is more due to conservative ideas that the Dems have basically gone along with.

To the extent that some will probably join my original argument by saying the problem with the Obama DP is that they've failed to do enough to fight for the left on economic issues, my response would be "well, what?" Ultimately, I think the reason the party hasn't is because a substantial portion of the party, especially the leadership and purse, is now held by people who are basically allergic to a lot of the more leftwing and populist ideas. And I am at least somewhat among those people. But this doesn't mean the answer to the question about why the DP aren't doing this is "people don't want them to." It's more that different people are in power in the DP, and those people who probably would like more economic populism or jobs programs or the like are either no longer in the party or no longer effective at making their voices heard.

(Why do I think some people want this, even though the DP isn't doing it? Polls on issues, anecdotal evidence, including from more RW areas of the country, just a general sense. I could be wrong, obviously, but I think this is something which should be hashed out, so I'm not just going to accept a Republican telling me that everyone really wants the Dems to become more like the Republicans.)

stephanie
06-25-2011, 10:34 AM
But people in rightish think tanks and the like have known for decades that Nixon was no free marketeer.

Sure. Part of my structural argument has the Republicans moving right on economic matters, in part because the liberal Republican types mostly became Dems. And certainly Nixon was no liberal in a more general sense.

You seem to be just arguing that RW economics are right, however, and that's not really on topic in the thread. If you are asserting that the parties have both moved right because the country as a whole rejected the prior economic consensus that existed in the '50s through '80, I think that's inaccurate. The story is more complicated, and I think we need to focus more on the structural arguments, such as who is in control in the parties and whether there are groups that aren't getting their ideas heard.

It could be that he's non-representative, but I'd point to people like rcocean. He so often expresses his frustration or even anger at both the Dems and current Republicans for failing to stand up for his interests with regard to such things as SocSec and other economic matters, but I'd argue that it's the realignment on non-economic issues that led to both parties moving right on these issues. Oddly enough, the dislike of "liberalism" caused the "liberal Republicans" to become Dems, the RW populists and Reaganites to play a greater role in the Republicans, and thus both parties to buy into traditional liberal (classical liberal) ideas in econ in greater numbers. In combination with this, the liberals took over the Dems on cultural issues, and since the Republicans are really controlled by their elites and elites are generally culturally liberal, the longterm result is going to be a liberal victory on cultural issues.

Thus, I'd argue that the culturally conservative, economically populist types, like rcocean, have basically bought into a structure that will create the worst possible result from their point of view. Greater domination by the elites in both parties, cultural liberalism, and a split between the liberal Republican pragmatists (now Dems) and the mix of RW libertarian/corporatist types in the Republican Party.

There probably isn't one person in a hundred who couldn't be found guilty of some technical violation of the tax code.

It's interesting that you are so certain of this and acknowledge that you don't pay taxes here. People have this weird idea that different rates or the few deductions and credits most people take advantage of are the "complexities" that are discussed. They are not. There are complexities (in part due to the differences between capital gains and income taxes and the need for richer people to structure their incomes to take advantage of the lower rates on CG, definitely for corporate taxes), but the notion that they affect the average tax payer and would be reduced in any meaningful way by the kinds of changes you like to argue for is not accurate.

More significantly, the idea that this is a major player in the topic we are considering seems to me so unlikely that I suspect you have just gotten carried away and forgotten the argument. It seems clear that the reason the Dems are not all that leftist is not because the average person, let alone the average Dem, thinks we need to reduce income tax complexity, even to the point of reducing taxes on the richest people and corporations. We can argue about that somewhere and might even agree on some stuff, but it's not this argument.

And as for your begging me to consider your preferences, you aren't a Democrat, so why should the DP set its platform based on your preferences?

The answer to your second question is no, but then I'm not a small business owner or an executive overseeing a large firm that has to comply with Washington's massive and ever-changing regulatory burden and tax code.

I actually am a small business owner, in that I'm a partner in a small business with some management authority. So I'm not totally ignorance about this, which is why the RW perspective seems to me often to misrepresent the realities.

Not buying the first bit of this argument, Steph. No doubt the drug war, and the less metaphorical wars we're fighting now are costly, but defense spending is something like 4.5% of GDP now, including the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, compared to somewhere around 6% of GDP during the Cold War.

It's weird you focus on cost alone. I specifically said the impact on people's lives. (I will note that I disagree with the claim that the new health care bill has increased government spending, but that's off topic and I can't respond to everything. I think it's clear that the DP is at least committed to the idea that we need to cut government spending on health care, so much so that the Republicans were able to take advantage of the fear that we would do that in the debate over the health care bill.)

I don't buy the idea that we're moving right at all.

Okay, you disagree with the premise of the thread. That the DP is moving right is a premise of the thread, though. It's a perception among many Dems who disagree about what to do about it. It's also something I note that Republicans are happy to take advantage of when those on the left bitch that Obama might as well be Bush on issues they care about. Thus, I think you should let those of us you have this perception argue about what to do about it. If you want to start another thread to discuss if the Dems should move farther right, go for it.


I'm talking about opinion leaders in academia, the arts and the media who set the intellectual agenda for what defines liberalism in the early 21st century.

This really strikes me as silly, Rob, when it comes to talking about the debate between the Dems and Republicans. Well, not silly, as I think it's been a strategy, as I said, but not a legitimate argument and slightly offensive to the extent that you are claiming Dems are not patriotic and the like. It's great to pick out some leftwinger (who is probably disaffected with Obama and dislikes liberals as much as you do) as representive of "the Dems," but you get crazy offended when people do similar things with extreme rightwingers. I don't see how that's consistent.

At any rate, we are talking about the current state of the Dems, and it's simply not accurate to say the current state of the Dems is culturally far left. Indeed, the people who inspired this thread would say the problem with the Dems is there's no interest in revisiting the drug war, in fighting for gay marriage, so on. As for foreign policy, I hardly think the hardcore leftists are in charge. Are you serious? Hell, the academic left is always criticized for being unfair to Israel, and perhaps you haven't been following Wonderment's reaction to the Dems on that issue, but come on. If you want to talk about Dem policies that you think disprove any of this, I think you need to bring up the policies, not some FOX spread perception that Dems are elitists who don't really love America.

Obama comes from this milieu.

Obama comes from the same milieu I do, so I know it really well. Same types of schools, same legal/academic social circles in large part, same city even. I don't live in Hyde Park, but I know plenty of people who overlap with Obama's circles there. So tell me again how unamerican this is, because I'm not buying it.

stephanie
06-25-2011, 10:45 AM
Remember the topic of the thread -- it's about the direction of the Dems and the real or perceived failure of the Dems to fight for liberal or leftwing POV.

This is what I say to my liberal friends as well. But then after we've pushed up the tax rate on evil rich people to their heart's content...

Note: we haven't done this. Indeed, part of why the left is mad is that we didn't let the Bush cuts for the highest income brackets expire, even though the majority of the country seemed to be in favor.

That's the kind of question this thread is examining.

Yep. It used to perfectly acceptable to be homophobic in the 1980s. Now? Not so much.

Depends on where you live. But in fact I agree that social issues are moving toward a more liberal consensus in a lot of ways, even without support from the Dems and even with the Republicans using them as a wedge issue. This is one reason why I would caution the more purist leftwing sorts that it's counterproductive to punish the Dems for being cautious on such issues, maddening as it may be, assuming you actually are concerned about liberalism in other areas too.

I do think it's a mistake to assume that progress on one social issue means there's no reason to expect social issues to be effective wedge issues or that we will make similar progress on social issues across the board. I thought the discussion about abortion vs. gay issues was illustrative, for example, and also I think the prejudice against gay people is unstable in a way not all of these biases are. (I'm not at all suggesting that views on abortion are the same as prejudice, just talking too generally about a bunch of non-economic issues.)

rfrobison
06-25-2011, 10:46 AM
My belief, for example, is that the kinds of angry reactions that we are getting from some on the left are unhelpful specifically because they don't address the real reasons the Dems are moving right. Contrary to the mischaracterization by some, my dislike of the purist leftwing approach is not because I think we should love Obama for everything he does (I don't, after all), but because I think they are actually making the situation they dislike worse. They might personally feel better afterwards, but the result will be ever more RW policies.

Though we come down on opposite sides in terms of political affiliation, I have the same feeling from the right. But unlike you're left-wingers, I'd like to drag my Republicans to the center. Not likely, unfortunately.

For example, I think building a third party to pressure the Dems could make sense, but it doesn't make sense to focus a third party only on the highest offices. That's not a serious effort at building support for issues, it merely hurts the presidential candidate it takes votes from. I could see a third party as a reasonable strategy on the local level, but it's basically unnecessary -- there's a lot of diversity within the Dems, so most likely there are perfectly decent local candidates to support, at least in the primary, but also one could certainly like one's own more leftwing representative, say, and still be unhappy with the national Dems (or Dem who represent other districts or states). This would be my current position. I don't dislike my representative, so I don't see why I should leave the Dems to support a third party.

Again, from the other side, this reminds me of Ross Perot...


The timing of the changes I'm talking about [the Democratic Party's shift rightward] don't really link up, nor does public opinion when we look at specifics. Again, if we look at the amount of gov't that affects people's lives and whether it comes from liberalism in particular, I don't believe we've seen a real increase during my lifetime, let alone my adult lifetime. So the idea that people are just reacting to that seems wrong.

Depends on the time frame you're talking about. You've been arguing that the Democrats have been on a a steady march to the right. (And although you've not mentioned the Republicans, I assume that you'd agree they've been on a steady march...to the right. Odd, isn't it.)

I'd say there are a number of reasons for this: The '70s were seen by most people as a decade of economic decline. Rightly or wrongly, they blamed the dominant political party, the Democrats, for it. One could argue that the Carter presidency was an aberration; the move rightward was a reaction to the radicalism (as middle America saw it) of the Democrats in the post-Vietnam era. And contrast Carter's schoolmarmish pessimism with Reagan's sunny optimism, the Soviets on the march in Afghanistan, Cubans rampant in central America, and American helplessness in Iran, and the die was cast.

Indeed, contrary to what you might like to think, there's no evidence that the average American thinks we need to cut the major gov't programs that affect him, like, well, Medicare and SocSec.

This comes as no surprise. People like their "freebies" from the government. They just don't want to pay for them. They need to be educated.

What has changed is not really my politics, but the fact that we are now in a climate where the old-school Republicans are gone and what used to be seen as conservative or pragmatic Dems are now being portrayed as Socialists!

We agree on this point.

I think we need a left with a voice, even if I'm not naturally part of it. Also, and this is a change, I think events since '92 have shown that the pragmatists don't know everything and were too quick to ignore some of the concerns of the left.)

In the abstract, I agree. I just hope they continue to lose the argument within your party, just as I hope the populist right does not become (more) ascendant in the Republican party. If the nativist yahoos take over, I'm going to stay home--or come over to your side. Then you'll have an even more troublesome conservative Dem to placate!

[Y]ou can't claim that we've been in a period of ever increasing government due to liberal principles. The increased government lately is more due to conservative ideas that the Dems have basically gone along with.

I'd say its more a problem -- from my small-government point of view -- of institutional inertia, empire-building, and collective action problems. Interest groups lobby for special privileges. They get them because they can bring more pressure to bear on politicians in terms of money and votes, than those who oppose the privilege. This is why there is no natural constituency for free trade: the benefits are diffuse, while the costs are concentrated.

Ultimately, I think the reason the party hasn't is because a substantial portion of the party, especially the leadership and purse, is now held by people who are basically allergic to a lot of the more leftwing and populist ideas.

Forgive my ignorance. What policies are these left-wingers pushing for and not getting?

I'm not just going to accept a Republican telling me that everyone really wants the Dems to become more like the Republicans.)

No, I don't suppose you should. On the other hand, if you could give me some tips on moving my party (a tad) further left, I'd love to hear. You're very clever and I might take your advice!

rfrobison
06-25-2011, 11:25 AM
...

As we seem to be talking past one another, I think I'll leave the rest of the discussion aside for now and see where you and your fellow Dems want to take it.

A final note: I was not accusing you, Obama, or anyone else of lacking patriotism. Geez, anybody who runs for president or any public office is patriotic by definition--at least I hope that's so.

In a nutshell, as I see it the left often says, in effect, "I love my country, but..." Where as righties say: "I love my country." Full stop. Now maybe the whole "true patriotism is dissent" thing is right and we (on the right) are a bunch of flag-waving scoundrels, but there it is.

But rather than pointing to a lack of patriotism on the Democrats' part, I was pointing to a problem of perception that I believe Democrats have vis-a-vis the people in flyover country. You may dismiss it as a Republican-authored lie. But I can tell you from personal experience that I've been made to feel my own values are quaint and obscurantist by the cultural elites I referred to earlier.

You've not explained whether Obama's "religion-clingers" remark was a mere slip of the tongue or reflective of some deeply held beliefs that he picked up somewhere between Honolulu and the University of Chicago. But it's not like I just made it up. THAT's the nature of your party's PR problem, as I see it.

In the end, it's people like me that the Democrats will have to win over if they want to push their agenda forward.

Or not. Maybe the solution is to let Obama be Obama and take the Democrats further left. Either way it will be interesting to watch what happens.

See you in the New Center Party...maybe?

operative
06-25-2011, 12:47 PM
As we seem to be talking past one another, I think I'll leave the rest of the discussion aside for now and see where you and your fellow Dems want to take it.

A final note: I was not accusing you, Obama, or anyone else of lacking patriotism. Geez, anybody who runs for president or any public office is patriotic by definition--at least I hope that's so.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that, at all. Duke Cunningham, William Jefferson, Sharpe James, among previously elected officials spring to mind, and David Duke and various others among failed candidates in the modern era too, in terms of people who were corrupt, Machiavellian schemers and not patriots. Heck, I really don't know how one could seriously suggest that Maxine Waters or Harold Rogers is patriotic.

I'm not going to question Obama's patriotism though. Tbh there are far more significant things to concentrate on than whether or not Obama is 'patriotic'. That he either doesn't understand the War Powers act or is arrogant to the point of thinking that he can abrogate it is far more disturbing.



Or not. Maybe the solution is to let Obama be Obama and take the Democrats further left.

I can only hope. The more we get of the policies of economic destruction, the more the country will react against them. If things get bad enough, they might even finally embrace austerity.

sugarkang
06-25-2011, 03:35 PM
Remember the topic of the thread
My bad. I agree with your point about taxes. (Sorry, RFR!) As complex as the tax code may be, we have plenty of accountants that will just take care of it for a hundred bucks.

That said, if you change the criticism from "tax code" to "tort law" then I'd totally agree with RFR. But that's a different matter, and I still just wanted to acknowledge that I agree with you on the tax code issue.

And with regard to raising taxes, I'm actually okay with raising them on the rich. I don't like taxes, but I'm not an ideologue. I think you've seen my suggestions on compromise in the gay marriage thread that I think in terms of compromise and win-win situations. The country at large, however, seems to fundamentally reject this.

Anyway, the Paul Ryan plan was labeled extreme and immoral because it didn't include tax hikes on the rich. That's particularly unfair when it doesn't even balance our budget and it doesn't affect current Medicare recipients and anyone set to receive benefits for 10 years. I believe the GOP expected Obama to ask for tax hikes on the rich, to which the GOP would agree in exchange for all the cuts. Of course, that didn't happen.

Obama attacked the Ryan plan for being immoral because it asked sacrifices of the middle class and nothing of the rich. (I agree, btw) But why is it that Paul Ryan is vilified for not suggesting tax hikes, a Democrat objective?

An example:

PLEASE make compliance a little simpler for individuals and companies? Could we please stop punishing savers and investors in favor of spenders?

Your reply:

And as for your begging me to consider your preferences, you aren't a Democrat, so why should the DP set its platform based on your preferences?

Based on this rationale, why is it okay for Democrats to vilify the Paul Ryan plan for not proposing Dem objectives? I think you're saying that each lawyer should represent her own interests?

rfrobison
06-26-2011, 12:02 AM
I wouldn't go so far as to say [that running for office is proof of patriotism], at all. Duke Cunningham, William Jefferson, Sharpe James, among previously elected officials spring to mind, and David Duke and various others among failed candidates in the modern era too, in terms of people who were corrupt, Machiavellian schemers and not patriots. Heck, I really don't know how one could seriously suggest that Maxine Waters or Harold Rogers is patriotic.

Good point, but I believe (and hope) that corrupt and self-serving politicians are the exception and not the rule.

sugarkang
06-26-2011, 02:27 AM
In a nutshell, as I see it the left often says, in effect, "I love my country, but..." Where as righties say: "I love my country." Full stop.

I think this stereotype is true, but I think it can be unpacked a bit. It's no secret that the left has a more diverse ethnic mix. This laser-like focus on eliminating racism by engaging in reverse-racism is philosophically untenable, and I'd argue in many ways counterproductive. But as a practical matter, considering the state of affairs today vs. 40-50 years ago, I think things could have turned out a lot worse or just remained very bad.

So, when Michelle Obama said something to the effect of, "This is the first time I've ever felt proud of my country," I cringed. And though the right criticized her to death, I understood what she meant. Imagine you were a descendant of slaves. Imagine you even attended Harvard Law School and earned a salary in the top 5% in the country. Is it unreasonable to not feel a sense of ownership and belonging the way a member of the white majority might feel implicitly. The heritage is entirely different; the myth creation and stories handed down through generations are different.

The inauguration of George W. Bush marked the beginning of the internet age. While internet broadband lines were just being laid out in the early 2000s, the left used those lines to open dialog with Europe. And all through those eight years of Bush rule, Europe laughed, ridiculed and pointed its finger at our clumsy, bumbling president. The left was powerless to disagree and they resented him for it. The left was ashamed. Meanwhile, Real-America had no clue; after all, Real-America does not talk to Europeans.

Even when patriotism was obligatory post 9-11, the USA! chants felt empty and purposeless. When Real-America chanted it, liberals were reminded of their newkyalur president. The last thing that liberals were in the mood to do was chant. The last time we felt great was when the Greatest Generation ruled America; that was a long time ago.

In 2008, American exceptionalism was reborn. As we watched a black man walk out in Hyde Park in November to acknowledge his electoral win over John McCain, I was reminded that only a short decade or so prior, Tupac Shakur told me that we weren't ready for a black president. Millions of young Americans heard that song and believed it. Then Tupac was murdered.

Now, I wouldn't say I never felt proud of my country before that day. However, that was the day that I felt that my country reclaimed moral superiority over every other nation on the planet. For me, it ended any debate with Europeans. Do not talk to me about the tyranny of American power. Do not pontificate about your theory of justice. Do not talk to me until you have elected the most marginalized members of your society to the highest office. While we may not be perfect, we are most certainly exceptional.

For this the Democrats deserve our gratitude.

(now stop spending so much fucking money)

rfrobison
06-26-2011, 03:42 AM
I think this stereotype is true, but I think it can be unpacked a bit. It's no secret that the left has a more diverse ethnic mix. This laser-like focus on eliminating racism by engaging in reverse-racism is philosophically untenable, and I'd argue in many ways counterproductive. But as a practical matter, considering the state of affairs today vs. 40-50 years ago, I think things could have turned out a lot worse or just remained very bad.

So, when Michelle Obama said something to the effect of, "This is the first time I've ever felt proud of my country," I cringed. And though the right criticized her to death, I understood what she meant. Imagine you were a descendant of slaves. Imagine you even attended Harvard Law School and earned a salary in the top 5% in the country. Is it unreasonable to not feel a sense of ownership and belonging the way a member of the white majority might feel implicitly. The heritage is entirely different; the myth creation and stories handed down through generations are different.

The inauguration of George W. Bush marked the beginning of the internet age. While internet broadband lines were just being laid out in the early 2000s, the left used those lines to open dialog with Europe. And all through those eight years of Bush rule, Europe laughed, ridiculed and pointed its finger at our clumsy, bumbling president. The left was powerless to disagree and they resented him for it. The left was ashamed. Meanwhile, Real-America had no clue; after all, Real-America does not talk to Europeans.

Even when patriotism was obligatory post 9-11, the USA! chants felt empty and purposeless. When Real-America chanted it, liberals were reminded of their newkyalur president. The last thing that liberals were in the mood to do was chant. The last time we felt great was when the Greatest Generation ruled America; that was a long time ago.

In 2008, American exceptionalism was reborn. As we watched a black man walk out in Hyde Park in November to acknowledge his electoral win over John McCain, I was reminded that only a short decade or so prior, Tupac Shakur told me that we weren't ready for a black president. Millions of young Americans heard that song and believed it. Then Tupac was murdered.

Now, I wouldn't say I never felt proud of my country before that day. However, that was the day that I felt that my country reclaimed moral superiority over every other nation on the planet. For me, it ended any debate with Europeans. Do not talk to me about the tyranny of American power. Do not pontificate about your theory of justice. Do not talk to me until you have elected the most marginalized members of your society to the highest office. While we may not be perfect, we are most certainly exceptional.

For this the Democrats deserve our gratitude.

(now stop spending so much fucking money)

I have no desire to rain on the Democrats' parade. I am also proud of the fact that the American people elected a Black president, though I voted for the other guy.

I'm not so sure Obama qualifies as being part of the "the most marginalized group" in society. He was, for all intents and purposes, a middle-class kid, albeit one with an unusually cosmopolitan background.

I'm also highly skeptical of the claim that Americans are morally superior to all other people on the planet. There are many ways to measure morality; racial equality -- which the U.S. is still far from achieving, measuring by economic and social outcomes -- is only one facet of a people's moral greatness. Indeed, I hesitate to impute moral qualities to any nation. Political, legal, and economic systems can be free or unfree, just or unjust, fostering growth or hampering it. People, however, are pretty much the same everywhere in terms of how moral they are (not very, in my view, left to their own devices).

sugarkang
06-26-2011, 07:32 AM
I'm also highly skeptical of the claim that Americans are morally superior to all other people on the planet.

You're right. I was over selling it, but I think the gist of this is true in terms of American exceptionalism as an abstract and perhaps semiotics; of course I don't claim superiority on an individual basis, though if the charge is lack of patriotism, then I don't believe that can be justified on an individual basis, either. And regarding Barack himself, of course he has a (middle class? welfare mother?) background, but I'm talking about symbolically, given our history of 3/5ths, then Jim Crow and finally the highest office.

Patriotism would have to be justified through an abstract claim rather than individual basis. Of course, the irony is that Democrats are blamed for not believing in American exceptionalism at all while Republicans wouldn't use the rationale that I laid out, either. But right now, Obama represents "the other side." I'm betting in less than a generation, Republicans will accept him as the conduit for the message of America's greatness, the way that we all share in myth creation. Obama and Huntsman are more or less the same for me when I evaluate them as individuals. But, what people often conflate, and this might be what you object to, is the reverence of Obama as individual versus America as an idea, "the only place in the world where my story is possible."

Ocean
06-26-2011, 12:24 PM
I think this stereotype is true, but I think it can be unpacked a bit. It's no secret that the left has a more diverse ethnic mix. This laser-like focus on eliminating racism by engaging in reverse-racism is philosophically untenable, and I'd argue in many ways counterproductive. But as a practical matter, considering the state of affairs today vs. 40-50 years ago, I think things could have turned out a lot worse or just remained very bad.

So, when Michelle Obama said something to the effect of, "This is the first time I've ever felt proud of my country," I cringed. And though the right criticized her to death, I understood what she meant. Imagine you were a descendant of slaves. Imagine you even attended Harvard Law School and earned a salary in the top 5% in the country. Is it unreasonable to not feel a sense of ownership and belonging the way a member of the white majority might feel implicitly. The heritage is entirely different; the myth creation and stories handed down through generations are different.

The inauguration of George W. Bush marked the beginning of the internet age. While internet broadband lines were just being laid out in the early 2000s, the left used those lines to open dialog with Europe. And all through those eight years of Bush rule, Europe laughed, ridiculed and pointed its finger at our clumsy, bumbling president. The left was powerless to disagree and they resented him for it. The left was ashamed. Meanwhile, Real-America had no clue; after all, Real-America does not talk to Europeans.

Even when patriotism was obligatory post 9-11, the USA! chants felt empty and purposeless. When Real-America chanted it, liberals were reminded of their newkyalur president. The last thing that liberals were in the mood to do was chant. The last time we felt great was when the Greatest Generation ruled America; that was a long time ago.

In 2008, American exceptionalism was reborn. As we watched a black man walk out in Hyde Park in November to acknowledge his electoral win over John McCain, I was reminded that only a short decade or so prior, Tupac Shakur told me that we weren't ready for a black president. Millions of young Americans heard that song and believed it. Then Tupac was murdered.

Now, I wouldn't say I never felt proud of my country before that day. However, that was the day that I felt that my country reclaimed moral superiority over every other nation on the planet. For me, it ended any debate with Europeans. Do not talk to me about the tyranny of American power. Do not pontificate about your theory of justice. Do not talk to me until you have elected the most marginalized members of your society to the highest office. While we may not be perfect, we are most certainly exceptional.

For this the Democrats deserve our gratitude.

(now stop spending so much fucking money)

Interesting post. I can agree with most of it. I don't agree with the bit about American Exceptionalism and moral superiority. But I see that Rob addressed that bit and also your response.

I would like to add that the idea of American Exceptionalism only exists in America and although some may think it's obvious, I don't think it is. There have been cultures in the past (including the early US) that have been seen as desirable models for other nations. Many people throughout the world still look at this country with some form of admiration for various reasons, but I don't think there's anything along the lines of exceptionalism. It's mostly about economic power and opportunity, as well as technological/scientific advancement. Perhaps there was a global leadership role regarding civil rights, feminism and the like in recent decades. But the current trends of excessive interventionism and bellicosity, return to more fundamentalist forms of religion, and rise of hypercapitalism tendencies, are more likely to bring disdain (and worry) than admiration.

But overall, as I said, I agree with most of your comment, and also think that Obama's election will be seen as one of the most important milestones in overcoming our racist past.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 12:48 PM
Depends on the time frame you're talking about. You've been arguing that the Democrats have been on a a steady march to the right. (And although you've not mentioned the Republicans, I assume that you'd agree they've been on a steady march...to the right. Odd, isn't it.)

This is a misunderstanding of my argument. I'd refer you to the comments upthread about the realignments and why the changes we are talking about happened. I'd further point out that I think one of the major mistakes made in analyzing the political debates is the assumption that it can all be easily mapped to liberal vs. conservative or left vs. right as if there were one axis represented by the two parties on a straight line.

I think it's fair to say that on certain matters both parties have gone right and certain leftwing views much more common in the public as a whole get no hearing, but not the leftwing accusation that the country has simply gotten more rightwing since whenever or even that the Dems have. That's simply not true, and I've argued with some of our leftwingers on that point before and think it should be part of this discussion.

This comes as no surprise. People like their "freebies" from the government. They just don't want to pay for them.

I think this is partially true, but that this cynical way of looking at it isn't the whole story. I think there is a broader acceptance of what the government should be doing that includes these thing, and includes a willingness to pay for it, than those who want to conclude that the US is naturally liberatarian are willing to grant.

I think the problem is not that people aren't willing to pay, but that people have largely been convinced that they are paying more than their fair share and others aren't, and that this largely has to do with certain other divisions in this country, with the fact that people are so easily able to see it as "them" and "us" and not just "us." For someone concerned about why the Dems aren't fighting for leftwing causes (or even liberal Democratic ones, ones that the right of center parties in the UK accept, for example), I think this is part of the answer. So a discussion about what a leftwinger needs to do to be successful needs to address this, a more effective solution than just being mad at Obama et al because our politics are the way they are.

As we seem to be talking past one another...

Are we?

You say: "I was not accusing you, Obama, or anyone else of lacking patriotism." But then you go on to say:

as I see it the left often says, in effect, "I love my country, but..." Where as righties say: "I love my country." Full stop.

How is this not basically the same thing, just not so explicitly stated? It seems to me a tactic to make people hesitant to criticize the US (that's explicitly how it's used by the RW media), as they will be called not patriotic.

I love my country, full stop. And, yes, as someone who loves the US I think it's important to be concerned about ways in which the US doesn't live up to our ideals. But that's not the qualification you apparently would make it. Indeed, I expect you'd agree with me that you are also concerned about ways the US doesn't live up to our ideals. So the insistence that there's some difference between me and you on this point, where you are (in my mind, you think?) a "flag waving scoundrel" is somewhat annoying and definitely inaccurate, yes.

But I can tell you from personal experience that I've been made to feel my own values are quaint and obscurantist by the cultural elites I referred to earlier.

I think an interesting question, though not for this thread, is why certain comments make you feel alienated whereas others, from your own perceived side, are not bothersome. I suspect it has more to do with pre-adopted loyalties than the comments themselves, as comments one could take offense to are on both sides.

For example, I'm religious, yet it never struck me to be offended by the Obama comment you are talking about (and I didn't interpret it at all in the way you are portraying it). Yet I am offended by comments like Palin's "real Americans" one, as I know she -- and the numerous supporters she has -- would consider me part of the opposing group. It's somewhat irrational in my mind for either you or me to get worked up about these statements, and probably if we looked at them differently we could as easily get worked up about the alternative one, the one that we never thought of as directed against us at all. That we do react to what we do I think has more to do, again, with preexisting associations than the statements themselves or in real interaction with people personally or, certainly, with the actual policies of the parties, at least for you and for me.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 12:53 PM
Based on this rationale, why is it okay for Democrats to vilify the Paul Ryan plan for not proposing Dem objectives? I think you're saying that each lawyer should represent her own interests?

This thread is a discussion about whether the Democratic Party sufficient reflects the views of Dems, or left-wing Americans more generally.

Ryan's plan is for the country as a whole.

When we talk about some Dem-proposed policy (cap and trade, say), I totally expect to debate its overall effects on the country. That would happen somewhere other than this thread. Maybe in the thread called "global climate change, should we do something about it?" or in the thread called "cap & trade: pro or con?". Or, of course, in a thread on some bloggingheads pairing that discussed it.

This thread is about the perception among many Dems and other left-wingers that the Dems aren't reflecting their interests, why that might be, and how best to change it.

To make a real comparison, if you wanted to start a thread about how the Republicans aren't adequately considering the concerns of Tea Party sorts or the religious right or libertarians, I wouldn't come in the thread and start talking about how IMO the party is too concerned about the views of the religious right and it would be better off if it incorporated the views of Dems like me.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 01:03 PM
This thread is a discussion about whether the Democratic Party sufficient reflects the views of Dems, or left-wing Americans more generally.

My mistake in not understanding how you've framed the discussion.

popcorn_karate
06-27-2011, 06:04 PM
Maybe the solution is to let Obama be Obama and take the Democrats further left.

he's been moving the country right since he got in office, just at a little slower pace than the last guy. all of his Supreme Court picks are to the right of their replacements, for example. He got a right-wing, corporatist healthcare "reform" passed, accelerated the shoveling of buckets of money to banksters, and has continued the assault on civil liberties.

y'all should be some happy rightwing motherfuckers!

rfrobison
06-27-2011, 07:41 PM
he's been moving the country right since he got in office, just at a little slower pace than the last guy. all of his Supreme Court picks are to the right of their replacements, for example. He got a right-wing, corporatist healthcare "reform" passed, accelerated the shoveling of buckets of money to banksters, and has continued the assault on civil liberties.

y'all should be some happy rightwing motherfuckers!

Mmm, if you say so. Maybe Obama will run for the Republican nomination...

popcorn_karate
06-28-2011, 04:15 PM
Mmm, if you say so. Maybe Obama will run for the Republican nomination...

i think of it like this - you're accelerating from 0 to 65 mph over 7 seconds , you really feel the g forces, then you let up on the accelerator and slowly go from 65-70 over 10 seconds. It actually feels like you are slowing down while you are still accelerating. so, yeah, i get that right wingers don't feel the acceleration, but we are still moving rapidly rightward even if the acceleration has declined.

TwinSwords
06-28-2011, 05:54 PM
i think of it like this - you're accelerating from 0 to 65 mph over 7 seconds , you really feel the g forces, then you let up on the accelerator and slowly go from 65-70 over 10 seconds. It actually feels like you are slowing down while you are still accelerating. so, yeah, i get that right wingers don't feel the acceleration, but we are still moving rapidly rightward even if the acceleration has declined.

Awesome analogy. I don't actually think it's true, overall, that we're still moving right under Obama. Quite the opposite. But that's not why I wanted to comment. I just wanted to say I love your analogy!

uncle ebeneezer
06-28-2011, 05:59 PM
Also the physics are problematic, no? Unless you have a faulty engine that continues to speed up after laying off the accelorator, absent wind or going downhill, as soon as you lift your foot the car is no longer accelerating. But still a great analogy.

TwinSwords
06-28-2011, 06:22 PM
Also the physics are problematic, no? Unless you have a faulty engine that continues to speed up after laying off the accelorator, absent wind or going downhill, as soon as you lift your foot the car is no longer accelerating. But still a great analogy.

Hmm... Good question. I don't know. Wouldn't acceleration slowly decrease until you reached a steady speed, even after you let up on the accelerator? I'll have to test this in a few minutes on my way to the store!

uncle ebeneezer
06-28-2011, 07:37 PM
Ohhhh. I see. PK meant that the foot is being lifted slowly!!

Going back to 12th grade physics (what I remember at least): If you press the gas and you're accelerating (assuming the car hasn't reached the max speed for the position of the accelerator yet) and the foot is lifted slowly, the car would still be accelerating but not as quickly. If you lift your foot off quickly (or the car had reached the max speed for the position of the accelerator) then there is no more acceleration period since F=M x A (F goes down, M stays the same, ergo A goes down too)

Ocean
06-28-2011, 09:14 PM
Ohhhh. I see. PK meant that the foot is being lifted slowly!!

Going back to 12th grade physics (what I remember at least): If you press the gas and you're accelerating (assuming the car hasn't reached the max speed for the position of the accelerator yet) and the foot is lifted slowly, the car would still be accelerating but not as quickly. If you lift your foot off quickly (or the car had reached the max speed for the position of the accelerator) then there is no more acceleration period since F=M x A (F goes down, M stays the same, ergo A goes down too)

Men!!!

He would be decreasing acceleration. As long as his acceleration is greater than the resistance (traction, wind, grade) he will continue to accelerate but at a lower rate.

See, I can make it complicated too! ;)

uncle ebeneezer
06-28-2011, 09:32 PM
Yes, my brain skipped over (accelerated past? :)) this part:

you let up on the accelerator and slowly go from 65-70 over 10 seconds

I was initially imagining (assuming) the foot was being lifted off totally (in which case going 65-70 would be impossible, absent outside forces).

Ocean
06-28-2011, 09:35 PM
Yes, my brain skipped over (accelerated past? :)) this part:



I was initially imagining (assuming) the foot was being lifted off totally (in which case going 65-70 would be impossible, absent outside forces).

I just thought it was funny how you and Twin got off on the technicalities.

popcorn_karate
06-29-2011, 01:56 PM
Ohhhh. I see. PK meant that the foot is being lifted slowly!!

Going back to 12th grade physics (what I remember at least): If you press the gas and you're accelerating (assuming the car hasn't reached the max speed for the position of the accelerator yet) and the foot is lifted slowly, the car would still be accelerating but not as quickly. If you lift your foot off quickly (or the car had reached the max speed for the position of the accelerator) then there is no more acceleration period since F=M x A (F goes down, M stays the same, ergo A goes down too)

reducing acceleration is not the same as reducing speed (velocity). acceleration is the rate of change, not the absolute speed. so a smaller rate of acceleration results in a slower increase in speed, not a reduction in speed. But your body notices changes in acceleration not in speed - so the speedometer and the sensation briefly diverge until a new equilibrium is achieved.

uncle ebeneezer
06-29-2011, 02:07 PM
reducing acceleration is not the same as reducing speed (velocity). acceleration is the rate of change, not the absolute speed.

Totally. That much I do remember from physics. I just thought you meant the foot was lifting off the pedal entirely (my mistake) in which case the car would immediately begin DEcelerating. Right?

rfrobison
06-30-2011, 11:07 PM
Totally. That much I do remember from physics. I just thought you meant the foot was lifting off the pedal entirely (my mistake) in which case the car would immediately begin DEcelerating. Right?

So can I infer from this excursion into physics that Obama WON'T run as a Republican this time? Too bad. It would be interesting.

ADDED: Depends on what you mean by "immediately." There would presumably still be some gas in the fuel line making its way to the engine, even after you took your foot off the accelerator. "Soon" would probably be more accurate. ;)

I'm absolutely helpless at physics, by the way.

ledocs
07-02-2011, 08:50 AM
First of all, I'm glad you started this thread. Very important question. I don't have the patience right now to read through long threads involving chiwisoxx, operative, and sugarkang on your question.

I am surprised to find both stephanie and DonZeko arguing for a more left-wing Democratic party or, if not for that, then a stronger left-wing that is not entirely within the Democratic Party. In particular, my prior perception of DonZeko was that of someone who thought that Obama had no room for maneuver to his left, largely because of Congress, but also because of public opinion.

I think, unsurprisingly perhaps, that we need a massive education campaign. Maybe the Democratic Party needs to tell some hard truths to the masses and lose in order to come back stronger with a more left-wing message another day. So one idea I have is to try to lay bare what economic redistribution is, what it is for, what its justifications are, where it exists already, and so on. My fundamental idea is that Reagan Democrats see the welfare state as taking money from their pockets in order to give it to lazy and undeserving people of color. So I think that the Party needs to confront that head on, to clear up misconceptions about that and to address real policy problems along these lines where they exist. Thomas Frank apparently argues that race is irrelevant here (i.e. with working-class Republicans), and I think he is wrong, dead wrong. Doug Henwood talks to a guy at the Hoover Institution, Morris Fiorina, apparently a well-known centrist political scientist and public opinion expert, who thinks that Frank is dead wrong on this point.

http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/Radio.html#S110604

There should be a movement to vastly reduce the influence of Wall Street political campaign money on the national Democratic Party. How can the Democrats distinguish themselves from the Republicans when they are both pigs at the same trough? This would be another example of a case in which the Party might have to lose an election or two in order to come back stronger another day. Alternatively, the Party could take the money but do some tangible things to demonstrate that the money doesn't buy a quid pro quo, but good luck with that. Schumer could stop opposing an end to the special capital gains treatment accorded to hedge fund managers, for example, and we could end that. This (anti-Wall Street) is essentially the line taken by Robert Scheer, and I am with him.

Whether the government adopts Keynesian policies or not and creates government jobs or not, the US is going to need a better educated workforce than it is producing now if it is to avoid suffering pretty catastrophic declines in standard of living, especially relative to other countries. I think this is something on which almost everyone can agree. So I think the Democratic Party should focus on educational policy, on making the public schools better, on creating more national standards, but also on attempting to change the culture of the country somehow. What I don't think is that more and more liberalized trade is the answer.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/28/opinion/28krugman.html?ref=paulkrugman

I think there should be specific policies to try to increase America's share of high value-added manufacturing, and that America could perhaps learn from and imitate Germany and Scandinavia there. I don't know enough about this subject to be specific. But presumably we need more and better engineers, and perhaps especially in "green" technological applications. Tax incentives and concrete industrial policies along these lines would be nice.

Generally speaking, there needs to be some kind of soaring rhetoric that rehabilitates the welfare state and economic redistribution, while also promoting individual initiative and the entrepreneurial spirit. America needs to be able to learn from other countries (one very important example of changing the culture) and to stop confusing some very good luck that it had in terms of geography and natural resources with some inherent virtue of its people or its miraculously inspired constitution.

There is this argument that demographics are working in favor of the Democrats, that the younger and better educated electorate tends to be Democratic, that Hispanics will tend to be Democratic, and so on. My basic feeling is that the Party simultaneously needs better slogans (a la George Lakoff, but I'm not that impressed with his actual ideas so far), combining the spirits of communitarianism and individualism, with more rigorous, more coherent, and more honest policies, the object of which is to redress the huge imbalance in the distribution of income that has developed over the past twenty years and "to meet the challenges of the future," which are going to be immense. And, yes, a bigger organized labor movement would be good, too, that's Doug Henwood's hobby horse, but I have no idea of how that could be achieved.

Ocean
07-02-2011, 09:06 AM
[...]

There is this argument that demographics are working in favor of the Democrats, that the younger and better educated electorate tends to be Democratic, that Hispanics will tend to be Democratic, and so on. My basic feeling is that the Party simultaneously needs better slogans (a la George Lakoff, but I'm not that impressed with his actual ideas so far), combining the spirits of communitarianism and individualism, with more rigorous, more coherent, and more honest policies, the object of which is redress the huge imbalance in the distribution of income that has developed over the past twenty years and "to meet the challenges of the future," which are going to be immense. And, yes, a bigger organized labor movement would be good, too, that's Doug Henwood's hobby horse, but I have no idea of how that could be achieved.

Another great post, ledocs.

I would add that the Democratic Party not only should take inventory of the demographics that favor it, but also should wake up to the steps that the Republican Party is taking to attract that same demographics.

Moving towards "libertarianism" with its socially liberal stance, inclusion of minorities among its official ranks and agitating the white poor through fear are among those steps.

stephanie
07-02-2011, 04:36 PM
I am surprised to find both stephanie and DonZeko arguing for a more left-wing Democratic party or, if not for that, then a stronger left-wing that is not entirely within the Democratic Party.

That's part of why I wanted to start the thread, to separate this discussion from the whole "how mad are we at Obama" thing that keeps coming up elsewhere. Or even from the discussion of individual policies.

Speaking for myself, I can be disappointed in how effective the Dems are at standing up for certain liberal policies without thinking the right response is to give up on the Dems and without buying into some idea that the problem is just Obama individually, and not the various structural issues.

I can also see a distinction between my own policies and what I think the Dems should reasonably stand for, if certain views seem not to be represented and that seems to result in some weird distortions of our politics.

In particular, my prior perception of DonZeko was that of someone who thought that Obama had no room for maneuver to his left, largely because of Congress, but also because of public opinion.

One could think this is true on at least some issues, yet also think that the Dems should move left and try and think of ways to get us there.

Part of the issue is that "left" isn't as clear a term as is often assumed. The Frank argument seems to be that different strands of the left have been played off against each other, and there's some truth to that. I think that relates to the absence of economically left arguments being representative at all, while the social "left" has been replaced by quite mainstream liberalism.

Maybe the Democratic Party needs to tell some hard truths to the masses and lose in order to come back stronger with a more left-wing message another day. So one idea I have is to try to lay bare what economic redistribution is, what it is for, what its justifications are, where it exists already, and so on.

I think there's some truth to this. But I think it raises the question of who's "the Democratic Party." There's this notion that the Dems aren't making the arguments they believe in, and I think that's only part of the issue. I think another part is that there's a constituency that isn't being represented, largely due to the way the realignment happened. This is perhaps where I've come around to agreeing with Frank, although also where I got the sense DZ and I might disagree, based on the discussion in the Frank thread.

My fundamental idea is that Reagan Democrats see the welfare state as taking money from their pockets in order to give it to lazy and undeserving people of color. So I think that the Party needs to confront that head on, to clear up misconceptions about that and to address real policy problems along these lines where they exist. Thomas Frank apparently argues that race is irrelevant here (i.e. with working-class Republicans), and I think he is wrong, dead wrong.

I don't recall what Frank says here, but I generally agree with you, although I think one need not buy into the racial breakdown to buy into the general argument (that redistrubution means the middle class are subsidizing the poor in some major way that leads to high taxes). That was apparent in the weird arguments about taxes being made since at least the '08 campaign, with the Republicans arguing that about half the country doesn't pay taxes and lots of people who would fall into that half acting as if that somehow makes them put upon.

There should be a movement to vastly reduce the influence of Wall Street political campaign money on the national Democratic Party. How can the Democrats distinguish themselves from the Republicans when they are both pigs at the same trough? This would be another example of a case in which the Party might have to lose an election or two in order to come back stronger another day.

This seems too idealistic to me. First of all, the campaign finance reform efforts have been basically cut off by the SC. Saying "well, let's just lose some elections gives up any power we have to appoint justices and to prevent attacks on unions that probably have as much to do with campaign finance issues as anything.

Second, what's the alternative source of funding? It's not like money doesn't matter.

Alternatively, the Party could take the money but do some tangible things to demonstrate that the money doesn't buy a quid pro quo, but good luck with that.

Right.

Whether the government adopts Keynesian policies or not and creates government jobs or not, the US is going to need a better educated workforce than it is producing now if it is to avoid suffering pretty catastrophic declines in standard of living, especially relative to other countries. I think this is something on which almost everyone can agree. So I think the Democratic Party should focus on educational policy, on making the public schools better, on creating more national standards, but also on attempting to change the culture of the country somehow. What I don't think is that more and more liberalized trade is the answer.

I agree with this too. But this simply demonstrates why business interests have some natural check on how extreme they will get on economics and policy generally. So they will put a check at some point (when it's not their specific interests being gored). They are also more likely to suppose policies that get portrayed as "Socialism!" in our pathetic national dialogue. It's not encouraging if you want some different kind of debate than we are getting (which I do think there's some natural constituency for).

I guess want I want from this discussion is for those who are upset about the current state of our politics -- which is probably most everyone even slightly on the liberal or left side -- is to think about how to achieve success going forward. And what success is, where I think you and I have a lot of agreement with regard to the type of policies we need.

Anyway, thanks for jumping in and I hope I don't sound too totally negative. I'll check out your link.

stephanie
07-08-2011, 04:06 PM
Way back at the beginning of this thread I referenced one frustration with the argument that Obama or the Dems are selling out "the left" or "liberals" -- namely, who are we talking about and what views are they assumed to have.

Basically, people talk as if there's some discrete group who the Dems are failing to represent when they focus on more centrist positions, but that's not the case. The problem for the Dems is that the coalition includes a mix of groups, who do not tend to be consistently left-wing on all issues. Indeed, as discussed upthread, there's been lengthy conflict between people who are more leftwing on some issues vs. those more leftwing on others.

This is relevant to my discussion with Wonderment in the Kleiman/McWhorter thread, because Wonderment asserted that the Dem "base" is likely in favor of legalization, but Obama is not.

Who is the Dem base? Traditionally, it's been the working class, union members, people who care about the Dem's traditional focus on economic issues. These people, like many independents, aren't likely to be excited about issues that seem to be counter-cultural ones. Younger people will be less freaked out, obviously, and older ones more so, but the idea that the bread and butter of the Dems are people who are in favor of legalization of drugs or especially that they put those issues first, seems to me wrong.

Same, actually, with some of the security and foreign policy issues -- while I think there's dislike of expanding the reasons to go to war beyond our traditional ones, the Dem base has never been in agreement with far left views on foreign policy or pacificism. There is a movement for those issues and, especially, for ACLU-type issues within the party and liberal judges are more likely to support the latter, but if we are to talk about the left or liberals as a whole it makes no sense to assume that a rejection of the Republican economic policies goes along with a leftwing view on these issues.

In the other thread, Wonderment said:

We'd have to see more reliable numbers on legalization polling, I agree, but in general I think the Dem. base would be in favor and would certainly have libertarian allies.

The polls seem to be all over the place, but here's (http://www.pollingreport.com/drugs.htm) one breaking out people by party which puts support at 42% of Dems and opposition at 56%. Independents are more evenly split. Where I'm mostly disagreeing, I think, is the notion that this would mean "the base" is more pro legalization. If support for legalization is higher among college educated people, libertarian-leaning people, and young people, I think that's not the same thing.

Politically, also, you'd have to look at other questions like how strongly people feel and how likely they are to vote on the question. Again, if the suggestion is that Obama is crazy to think coming out in favor of legalization would be a liability, I think you are engaging in wishful thinking.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to move the Dems toward supporting legalization (or decriminalization of some sort, as I'd probably prefer). It means that expecting it to come from the top and accusing the Dems of selling out their supporters if it doesn't isn't realistic or practical. The point of talking about the reasons the Dems resist leftwing positions on some things is not to excuse them for doing so or to defend the status quo, but to talk about the best ways to change this.

miceelf
07-08-2011, 04:20 PM
Who is the Dem base? Traditionally, it's been the working class, union members, people who care about the Dem's traditional focus on economic issues.

Don't forget African Americans and other ethnic minority groups (I suspect there are two demographic factors pushing African Americans as a group in opposite directions- the lower rate of college education (which would push toward lower rates of support for legalization) and the higher proportion of younger people (which would push toward higher rates of support)..


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/19/marijuana-legalization-public-support-growing_n_851238.html

In the CNN poll, non-whites were less likely to support legalizing marijuana than whites, even though, as the Human Rights Watch has reported, blacks will more likely be arrested for drug possession than whites

Ocean
07-08-2011, 05:03 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/19/marijuana-legalization-public-support-growing_n_851238.html

In the CNN poll, non-whites were less likely to support legalizing marijuana than whites, even though, as the Human Rights Watch has reported, blacks will more likely be arrested for drug possession than whites

This makes sense. Minorities have seen their families and communities greatly affected by drug use and its multiple consequences. If you ask them, they are not likely to support increased access to drugs.

miceelf
07-08-2011, 05:26 PM
This makes sense. Minorities have seen their families and communities greatly affected by drug use and its multiple consequences. If you ask them, they are not likely to support increased access to drugs.

That's definitely a dynamic, but not the only one. NAACP came out in favor of legalization, IIRC. The communities have also been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, as well, from the other perspective.

look
07-08-2011, 05:37 PM
That's definitely a dynamic, but not the only one. NAACP came out in favor of legalization, IIRC. The communities have also been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, as well, from the other perspective.I wonder if legalizing marijuana would have the effect of decreasing cocaine use, heroin use, etc. I do think marijuana is a gateway drug because it is illegal, ie, if it were on the same legal standing as alcohol, it would be seen as okay, but the hard drugs as not okay.

Wonderment
07-08-2011, 05:52 PM
This is relevant to my discussion with Wonderment in the Kleiman/McWhorter thread, because Wonderment asserted that the Dem "base" is likely in favor of legalization, but Obama is not.
Who is the Dem base? Traditionally, it's been the working class, union members, people who care about the Dem's traditional focus on economic issues. These people, like many independents, aren't likely to be excited about issues that seem to be counter-cultural ones. Younger people will be less freaked out, obviously, and older ones more so, but the idea that the bread and butter of the Dems are people who are in favor of legalization of drugs or especially that they put those issues first, seems to me wrong.

I accept the criticism that I used the term "base" too loosely. It's true that many hardcore Dems. are socially conservative.

However, fear of anti-abortion Catholics or anti-gay black Protestant churches has not deterred Dems. from taking strong positions on abortion and gay rights (short of marriage). Again, gotta look at the polling, but the Dems. may be falling behind the curve here on drugs too.

Also, as we all know, it's very relevant to examine the way questions are phrased. For example, if you ask in minority communties, "Should drugs be legal?" vs. "Should people from our community be in prison for using drugs?" you may get very different numbers.

One problem is that Obama can't always look at the "base" (whatever that means). He (i.e., the Dem. establishment) must look at key swing states and their demographics. Our insane bipartisan policy toward Cuba and Israel may have a lot more to do with the state of Florida than with reality or the majority of Dems. nationally.

Another problem is how passionate small groups of people get around a certain issue and how much noise they can make. Israel and Cuba, like abortion, are blown hugely out of proportion because the lobbies are highly committed, well-organized and expert in amplifying their voice.

In that regard, I'm heartened by young people who are fired up (no pun intended) about weed legalization. The base (if not The Base) of legalization supporters is expanding, just like with same-sex marriage. Other issues? Not so much. For example, I'm fired up about nuclear weapons (still no pun intended) and death penalty abolition, but those issues are barely on the political map. Nukes are like the Siberia (http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/images/globaled.jpg)* of politics.

*World map of nukes, including Siberia.

stephanie
07-08-2011, 06:22 PM
fear of anti-abortion Catholics or anti-gay black Protestant churches has not deterred Dems. from taking strong positions on abortion and gay rights (short of marriage).

Oh, I'm not saying it's about fear. I agree with your point about swing states, in any event, as well as passion.

I also agree that demographics support the idea that momentum is with supporters of legalization. I suspect that in a few years the CA vote would have gone (and will go) the other way, rather like the changing views and trend on gay marriage.

I would actually argue that the conclusion to draw from these things is that it should be less of a concern that the Dems lead on these issues. I get why you would want a party to agree with you on issues you think of as moral ones if you are to support it, but I am much more bothered by the move right on economics, as that seems to me a trend with more long-term consequences. I worry that the anger against Dems for not going far enough on some of these other issues (sometimes combined with anger on the economic stuff) tends to turn off many Dems who are probably on board or even to the left of the administration on economics. People who would help push the party left if we didn't have this idea of left=1972 still.

Also, I do see economic and tax policy and issues relating to safety net, entitlements, so on, as more central to federal government concerns. Issues about drug legalization ought to be local/state issues, with the feds to be convinced to allow the states to experiment -- pressure that best comes from the bottom up. Issues about gay rights, same, plus it's largely a social change or a legal one. But gay rights, like abortion, has proven a cash cow for both parties, so that's another reason why I think there's less reason to worry about the Dems on this issue going forward.

One of the problems for drug policy liberalization is that there are large sections of the country that get really, really freaked out by any hint that a politician is not tough on crime, and these issues serve as proxy for that. Similarly, they get freaked by any hint that a candidate is truly culturally left, and the idea that he's cool with pot use definitely tars one in that way. I think people the Dems need definitely are influenced by these issues in a conservative way. These are also reasons why a Republican candidate could more easily "go to China" without scaring people, as I said before, as Republicans are presumed to be straight-laced and tough on crime, whereas Dems are presumed to be the opposite. Most Republicans just don't support the policies you want, however, although this will change somewhat on drugs over time, I expect.

Anyway, like I said before, my point here is not that this justifies the status quo, but it means that the answer is to keep pushing the issue locally and in ways that help get rid of the stigma -- pushing the pragmatic reasons for reform, the positive effects. I think it's a reasonable position and you can get libertarian allies. The notion that the numbers plus potential libertarian allies (who'd vote on economics anyway, probably) mean that a Dem presidential candidate should just say "I'm for it" without that work being done seems to me not practical. Not going to happen, not something that upsets me. Similarly, I'd suggest that tying the efforts to arguments about drug laws in general being violative of our rights aren't going to help. They are going to get used against the movement for more limited steps.

Why this works against the Dems, yet never seems to against the Republicans, I don't know. Maybe there's something in the nature of the coalitions. I wish someone would have a theory on that.

Ocean
07-08-2011, 06:31 PM
That's definitely a dynamic, but not the only one. NAACP came out in favor of legalization, IIRC. The communities have also been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, as well, from the other perspective.

Yes, I know that criminalization has also caused many problems for impoverished drug infested communities. That's why decriminalization seems more appealing to me. Legalization brings other problems. NAACP's agenda on this issue (if they support legalization) is unintelligible to me. Are we talking about legalization of marijuana only or hard drugs as well? Marijuana isn't the main problem for African American (Jamaican Americans aside) communities, is it?

miceelf
07-08-2011, 07:30 PM
Yes, I know that criminalization has also caused many problems for impoverished drug infested communities. That's why decriminalization seems more appealing to me. Legalization brings other problems. NAACP's agenda on this issue (if they support legalization) is unintelligible to me. Are we talking about legalization of marijuana only or hard drugs as well? Marijuana isn't the main problem for African American (Jamaican Americans aside) communities, is it?

Specifically marijuana, I think. Given the really disproportionate treatment of African Americans vis-a-vis the criminal justice system in terms of drug offenses, and the harms to the community caused by marijuana (minimal, I suspect) vs. the harms caused by marijuana related incarceration and CJ involvement, this seems not crazy to me.

chiwhisoxx
07-08-2011, 07:47 PM
First of all, I'm glad you started this thread. Very important question. I don't have the patience right now to read through long threads involving chiwisoxx, operative, and sugarkang on your question.


people who disagree with you on the internet: THE HORROR, THE HORROR! if having to skip through the modest to low number of right leaning commenters on the site is such a burden, how do you imagine right leaning people read threads? they're like goddamned mine fields!

AemJeff
07-08-2011, 08:02 PM
people who disagree with you on the internet: THE HORROR, THE HORROR! if having to skip through the modest to low number of right leaning commenters on the site is such a burden, how do you imagine right leaning people read threads? they're like goddamned mine fields!

I don't agree with ledocs about whether your name belongs on that list, but the assumption that the underlying issue is one of political disagreement is false.

chiwhisoxx
07-08-2011, 10:05 PM
I don't agree with ledocs about whether your name belongs on that list, but the assumption that the underlying issue is one of political disagreement is false.

well, I don't know ledocs as well as I know a lot of other commenters, but I'd say the political disagreement is at least correlative if not causal.

AemJeff
07-08-2011, 10:14 PM
well, I don't know ledocs as well as I know a lot of other commenters, but I'd say the political disagreement is at least correlative if not causal.

I agree that there's a correlation. I mentioned that a little while ago here (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=213489#post213489). I don't think it's hard to find annoying lefties - just spend a minute or two reading KOS or FDL - but for whatever reason the balance here seems to skew a bit.

ledocs
07-11-2011, 01:48 PM
Yes, and I don't know you terribly well either. I noticed that you were at pains to say that Metcalf completely misunderstood or misrepresented Nozick in the "Is Libertarianism a Scam?" topic, but you failed to say anything specific about the nature of the misunderstanding or misrepresentation. So that's not very helpful. Nor did you respond when I attempted to point out specific weaknesses in Nozick's Wilt Chamberlain argument or when I subsequently pointed out that no one had engaged with me there.

I don't know you well enough to say whether you should be lumped in with sugarkang and operative or not. If Aemjeff says not, he's very probably right. This topic was introduced by stephanie as a forum for Democrats to talk about problems within their party. I suspected that you were not a Democrat, the topic was introduced for Democrats, so I said that I did not have time (and I'll add inclination) to read what you had to say in this context.

chiwhisoxx
07-13-2011, 03:20 PM
Yes, and I don't know you terribly well either. I noticed that you were at pains to say that Metcalf completely misunderstood or misrepresented Nozick in the "Is Libertarianism a Scam?" topic, but you failed to say anything specific about the nature of the misunderstanding or misrepresentation. So that's not very helpful. Nor did you respond when I attempted to point out specific weaknesses in Nozick's Wilt Chamberlain argument or when I subsequently pointed out that no one had engaged with me there.

I don't know you well enough to say whether you should be lumped in with sugarkang and operative or not. If Aemjeff says not, he's very probably right. This topic was introduced by stephanie as a forum for Democrats to talk about problems within their party. I suspected that you were not a Democrat, the topic was introduced for Democrats, so I said that I did not have time (and I'll add inclination) to read what you had to say in this context.

just to make this clear, because several people seemed to have this misunderstanding: I don't particularly care for Anarchy, State and Utopia. I don't think it's a very good book (not to mention Nozick's writing style is quite irritating to read) and I think a lot of the arguments have serious problems. I didn't mean to offer a "non-defense defense" of Nozick. I just don't the critiques offered by Metcalf were the proper critiques of Nozick. But I just want to make clear that I am not a Robert Nozick disciple.

stephanie
07-13-2011, 03:39 PM
Matt Taibbi speaks to the topic of this thread here (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/obama-doesnt-want-a-progressive-deficit-deal-20110711).

The blindness of the DLC-era "Third Way" Democratic Party continues to be an astounding thing. For more than a decade now they have been clinging to the idea that the path to electoral success is social liberalism plus laissez-faire economics in other words, get Wall Street and corporate America to fund your campaigns, and get minorities, pro-choice and gay marriage activists (who will always frightened into loyalty by the Tea Party/Christian loonies on the other side) to march at your rallies and vote every November. They've abandoned the unions-and-jobs platform that was the party's anchor since Roosevelt, and the latest innovations all involve peeling back their own policy legacies from the 20th century. Obama's new plan, for instance, might involve slashing Medicare and Social Security under "pressure" from the Republicans.

I simply don't believe the Democrats would really be worse off with voters if they committed themselves to putting people back to work, policing Wall Street, throwing their weight behind a real public option in health care, making hedge fund managers pay the same tax rates as ordinary people, ending the pointless wars abroad, etc. That they won't do these things because they're afraid of public criticism, and "responding to pressure," is an increasingly transparent lie. This "Please, Br'er Fox, don't throw me into dat dere briar patch" deal isn't going to work for much longer. Just about everybody knows now that they want to go into that briar patch.

My linking this shouldn't be construed as complete agreement. In particular, I think concern about donors and concern about voters are not as unrelated as the two paragraphs suggest. Nor do I think the Dems are as convinced as Taibbi that voters would react the way Taibbi thinks, so as to suggest the concern about public opinion is false in the way suggested.

chiwhisoxx
07-13-2011, 05:37 PM
Matt Taibbi speaks to the topic of this thread here (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/obama-doesnt-want-a-progressive-deficit-deal-20110711).



My linking this shouldn't be construed as complete agreement. In particular, I think concern about donors and concern about voters are not as unrelated as the two paragraphs suggest. Nor do I think the Dems are as convinced as Taibbi that voters would react the way Taibbi thinks, so as to suggest the concern about public opinion is false in the way suggested.

at least part of this seems to be the classic "whatever issues I advocate for are politically popular and good for my party!" it's also important to note "success" for a political party can be defined in different ways. moving leftward on certain issues may be popular nationally, but it won't help house democrats in idaho. there seems to be a tradeoff between a large, national party that has to move towards the center and a smaller, less ideologically diverse party. the right balance is tricky to find, I think stephanie and I agree on this: a transition would be more difficult than taibbi seems to claim it would.

ledocs
07-13-2011, 05:52 PM
I didn't mean to offer a "non-defense defense" of Nozick. I just don't the critiques offered by Metcalf were the proper critiques of Nozick. But I just want to make clear that I am not a Robert Nozick disciple.

OK, but I still don't learn anything from this, there is no "cash value" here, as some analytical philosophers I "worked with" used to say. It sounds like you might have something worth saying here, but I have no idea what it is. And it's not like I'm asking for the moon, just some indication of what you think the important line(s) of criticism would be and how Metcalf went wrong. It's not that you offered a "non-defense defense" of Nozick, you offered no defense, on the grounds, presumably, that there had been no legitimate criticism, hence no defense required. So I don't think that that's credible, either, that Metcalf so far missed the boat on what Nozick was arguing, and what Nozick's grounds were, that a defender, or sympathetic critic of Nozick doesn't even know where to begin in addressing Metcalf.

ledocs
07-13-2011, 06:17 PM
Glenn Greenwald repeats this Taibbi line about Obama's debt-reduction strategy in his recent diavlog, which I just listened to. I think this line is probably right. With unemployment at over 9 percent and likely to stay very high through November, 2012, Obama has to recast things in order to be reelected. So he takes this gamble whose analogue worked so well for Clinton.

I guess it depends upon what the end-game is. If the strategy works, I'm OK with it. What does "work" mean here? It means convincing a majority of voters that Obama was sincere, he would accept cuts in entitlements in exchange for some new revenues, prominently including the lapse or repeal of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. So success means electoral success, Republicans get most of the blame for a failure to reach a serious long-term structural deficit agreement. But I'm not OK with the government going into default. And, just to be clear, I'm also OK with making cuts to entitlements, it's going to happen sooner or later anyway, but I'm not OK with doing it without "revenue enhancements," I am very not-OK with that. But I don't really see the Republicans caving here, it seems like the most probable outcome is a last-minute, desperate short-term fix to increase the debt ceiling. Then we await the results of the next election to see what the new disposition is. If Obama were to go for the smaller, spending-cuts only version of deficit reduction, he is sunk within his own party, he ain't goin' nowhere in 2012. That's not a possible outcome, and presumably Republicans know that. Is the no new taxes pledge real, or just a bargaining position? It's probably real. Is it so important that they're ready to accept default? I doubt it, but maybe they are that stupid.

stephanie
07-13-2011, 06:30 PM
Glenn Greenwald repeats this Taibbi line about Obama's debt-reduction strategy in his recent diavlog, which I just listened to.

Yeah, that's one reason I noticed it, although I thought Glenn's specific argument was pretty bad to the extent it depended on Obama's unwillingness to take a legal position that so far as I can tell Glenn agrees is incorrect.

stephanie
07-13-2011, 06:50 PM
there seems to be a tradeoff between a large, national party that has to move towards the center and a smaller, less ideologically diverse party.

This is actually where I somewhat agree with Taibbi, although I do agree he's suffering a bit from the "if they just agreed with me the voters would like it" syndrome. (This is closely related to Aaron Sorkin syndrome, although the condition clearly preceded its namesake, where telling some hard truth in an eloquent speech always brings the public around.)

Basically, I think we are too quick to see the spectrum as an easy left to right, where the majority are somewhere in the middle and thus more likely to react skeptically to a jobs program and also more likely to approve cutting entitlement programs. It seems to me that while being too leftwing turns off many voters and moving to the center helps with them, that it's not so clear that being pro jobs creation or even pro spending if the spending is on programs -- including entitlements -- that are generally not seen as hard left ones or ones that benefit only certain groups. To the contrary, one could reasonably argue that the groups who are focused on "fixing" entitlement programs are those on the right who want to destroy them (IMO, I understand you may disagree) and others on the right who either want to fix them, make them less costly, or privatize only portions of them, and those on the left who are concerned about entitlement costs and deficits and so on.

While I know many on this board are committed to thinking there's no such thing as this latter group, and Glenn Greewald seemed to suggest that that was contrary to being a real Dem, the fact is that this is a common view among certain wonkish Dem types, a group that includes many in the media and many in the upper middle class/professional social liberal, economic pragmatist group that Clinton solidified. These people seem to me well-represented in Obama's circle and he's culturally akin to them and they are probably over represented among donors. And they care about the deficit -- back in the '80s and '90s and, hell, the Bush admin, it was always the Dems who talked more about the deficit. So the idea that Obama really does care about these issues and wants to reform entitlements is believeable to me. He may well see it as his '86 compromise.

Of course, it's also true that many of the same Dems and I suspect Obama also are Keynesian enough to worry about the timing here.

But I think Taibbi is right to say that we shouldn't see jobs programs as far left and not having jobs programs and cutting benefits for the middle class as "centrist," as that's probably not politically intelligent but more a hobby horse of a particular group of Dems who buy into a certain amount of Republican framing. He's wrong to suggest that it's easy to change this or that the political or economic effect would be as easy to predict as he seems to think.

ledocs
07-13-2011, 06:52 PM
Don't follow you here, stephanie. Do you mean that the Obama negotiation strategy with the Republicans depends upon his unwillingness to try to borrow under the President's own authority? If so, I don't think that's what Greenwald was saying, there is no such dependence. Greenwald and Obama agree that that route is not a feasible solution to the apparent impasse. Or did you think that Greenwald was saying that Obama has no real opinion on this constitutional question, but he has appeared to adopt a position in order to increase the sense of crisis and artificially create conditions under which Republicans can be blamed either for default or for failure to reach a relatively ambitious deficit-reduction agreement? Again, I did not take Greenwald to be saying that.

stephanie
07-13-2011, 07:32 PM
Don't follow you here, stephanie. Do you mean that the Obama negotiation strategy with the Republicans depends upon his unwillingness to try to borrow under the President's own authority? If so, I don't think that's what Greenwald was saying, there is no such dependence.

Yes, that's what I meant. Based on that "evidence," Greenwald constructs his case that the whole situation whereby the Republicans have a ton of leverage over Obama -- which I personally think is obvious -- is pretence. That ignores the real leverage that the Republicans have, either given their willingness to risk a default due to a combination of irresponsible TP types or the certainty that Obama would get the majority of the blame and wouldn't let it happen anyway or that, in the longshot that that didn't happen, there would be some way of avoiding the default and resulting crisis.

And it's especially funny that he does that given that he gave the argument less consideration than even I think it's worth. For example, Glenn seemed to dismiss the notice that there's something unconstitutional about Congress passing appropriations that cause the debt ceiling to be exceeded yet not raising the debt ceiling, putting the executive in a position where no matter what happens laws are not and cannot be complied with. This, to me, does create a serious constitutional question, even though I do not think it gives the President the authority to ignore the debt ceiling or the practical ability to, probably. Glenn seems to take that less seriously, again, than I do, but insisted that because the President did not rhetorically employ an argument which doesn't work, that he would ignore the debt ceiling, that he really wants what the Republicans are forcing on him.

I even think Obama does want to "fix" entitlements and address the deficit in advance of the '12 election (although not without taxes being a part of it), and Glenn's argument seemed crazy and just based on his personal pique re Obama than anything logical. Glenn is further wrong, IMO, when he suggests that this is somehow contrary to the unifying principle of all Dems but Obama's inner circle or whatever, also, for the reasons I discussed in my last reply to chiwhi.

Or did you think that Greenwald was saying that Obama has no real opinion on this constitutional question, but he has appeared to adopt a position in order to increase the sense of crisis and artificially create conditions under which Republicans can be blamed either for default or for failure to reach a relatively ambitious deficit-reduction agreement? Again, I did not take Greenwald to be saying that.

No, I thought Glenn was saying that the argument was legally incorrect and Obama thinks so, but that Obama still should have made the argument and that he didn't means he isn't really interested in not being leveraged by the Republicans. That argument only makes sense if the argument Obama failed to use is a valid argument, not one where Obama would be threatening to ignore the law when threatening to use it.

On the other hand, as I said in another thread a few days ago, I think the result of not raising the debt ceiling shouldn't be default but more akin to a government shut down, and it's a valid position for Obama to say that of course we won't default, whether agreement is reached or not, but may not be able to comply with all our other governmental obligations. This puts more pressure on the Republicans and is probably true anyway. I note that Obama is doing this.

miceelf
07-13-2011, 10:49 PM
No, I thought Glenn was saying that the argument was legally incorrect and Obama thinks so, but that Obama still should have made the argument and that he didn't means he isn't really interested in not being leveraged by the Republicans. That argument only makes sense if the argument Obama failed to use is a valid argument, not one where Obama would be threatening to ignore the law when threatening to use it..

That's how I understood Greenwald as well. I have to admit- many of his criticisms are valid, but some of his arguments are so patently silly that I am not sure if it's bad faith or some really faulty psychological process at work. The fact that Obama didn't make a faulty argument somehow proves that he's secretly a closet republican.? It's kind of like his "I know that I believe in limited executive powers, but I am going to pretend that Obama's whim is the only thing that determines what happens in the legislative branch" line of reasoning.

Obama as a secret conservative is only slightly less loony than Obama as secret Muslim.

chiwhisoxx
07-14-2011, 05:19 PM
This is actually where I somewhat agree with Taibbi, although I do agree he's suffering a bit from the "if they just agreed with me the voters would like it" syndrome. (This is closely related to Aaron Sorkin syndrome, although the condition clearly preceded its namesake, where telling some hard truth in an eloquent speech always brings the public around.)

Basically, I think we are too quick to see the spectrum as an easy left to right, where the majority are somewhere in the middle and thus more likely to react skeptically to a jobs program and also more likely to approve cutting entitlement programs. It seems to me that while being too leftwing turns off many voters and moving to the center helps with them, that it's not so clear that being pro jobs creation or even pro spending if the spending is on programs -- including entitlements -- that are generally not seen as hard left ones or ones that benefit only certain groups. To the contrary, one could reasonably argue that the groups who are focused on "fixing" entitlement programs are those on the right who want to destroy them (IMO, I understand you may disagree) and others on the right who either want to fix them, make them less costly, or privatize only portions of them, and those on the left who are concerned about entitlement costs and deficits and so on.

While I know many on this board are committed to thinking there's no such thing as this latter group, and Glenn Greewald seemed to suggest that that was contrary to being a real Dem, the fact is that this is a common view among certain wonkish Dem types, a group that includes many in the media and many in the upper middle class/professional social liberal, economic pragmatist group that Clinton solidified. These people seem to me well-represented in Obama's circle and he's culturally akin to them and they are probably over represented among donors. And they care about the deficit -- back in the '80s and '90s and, hell, the Bush admin, it was always the Dems who talked more about the deficit. So the idea that Obama really does care about these issues and wants to reform entitlements is believeable to me. He may well see it as his '86 compromise.

Of course, it's also true that many of the same Dems and I suspect Obama also are Keynesian enough to worry about the timing here.

But I think Taibbi is right to say that we shouldn't see jobs programs as far left and not having jobs programs and cutting benefits for the middle class as "centrist," as that's probably not politically intelligent but more a hobby horse of a particular group of Dems who buy into a certain amount of Republican framing. He's wrong to suggest that it's easy to change this or that the political or economic effect would be as easy to predict as he seems to think.

I don't know why, but it just struck me today: what do you mean by the Aaron Sorkin syndrome? More specifically, is that syndrome supposed to be evident from his work on the West Wing? I'm familiar with the show beyond the extent to which a human being should be familiar with a television show, and I don't remember *any* speeches "telling hard truths to turn public opinion". Is this theory from his other work, or am I missing something?

stephanie
07-14-2011, 05:55 PM
I don't know why, but it just struck me today: what do you mean by the Aaron Sorkin syndrome? More specifically, is that syndrome supposed to be evident from his work on the West Wing? I'm familiar with the show beyond the extent to which a human being should be familiar with a television show, and I don't remember *any* speeches "telling hard truths to turn public opinion". Is this theory from his other work, or am I missing something?

The American President, although it's hardly unique to Sorkin. I described it badly, assuming it would be recognized anyway. It's the whole "politician wants to do something uncourageous due to public approval, isn't very popular, ends up deciding he's going to do what he thinks he should anyway, and doing the right thing is always rewarded by the public/Congress/whoever being delighted and awarding the politician for his courageousness."

There were hints of this in West Wing, from the beginning liberal dream introduction of the president with the slapdown of the pretend Dr. Laura by repeating that stupid email string that was going around to the occasional character (usually the Pres.) overcomes political pressures and just does what Sorkin (presumably) would want a president to do. See, e.g., Let Bartlet be Bartlet. This tendency was much more undercut in West Wing, however.

Another version of this is the regular guy applies regular guy common sense and cuts through the political nonsense that keeps politicians from focusing on what the common man needs. Dave is a good example of this one.

ledocs
07-14-2011, 05:58 PM
I just listened to the relevant section of the dv again. At no point does Greenwald say or suggest that Obama should have pursued the unilateral debt- increase-by-the-President strategy. He says that people in Treasury and others had suggested this strategy, Greenwald thinks somewhat disingenuously, but then Lawrence Tribe shot it down, apparently to Obama's satisfaction. But whatever Obama or other Democrats may have thought about it, Greenwald never says that Obama should have pursued it. He does say that all the constitutional objections by the Democrats to the Republican strategy were disingenuous, because he thinks that Obama actually wanted this fight over the $4 trillion package. Another argument for this thesis, advanced by Krugman, was that Obama could have insisted on an agreement to raise the debt ceiling as part of an earlier compromise. Obama must have seen this debt ceiling fight coming. If not, he's completely incompetent.

stephanie
07-14-2011, 06:06 PM
At no point does Greenwald say or suggest that Obama should have pursued the unilateral debt- increase-by-the-President strategy.

If what you mean by "pursue" is try to actually incur additional debt without the approval of Congress, we are agreeing on that limited bit of the topic, at least.

Edit:

Here's (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/37386?in=35:32&out=37:19) a link to the section of the diavlog that I was talking about. Glenn uses the President's unwillingness to take a position that is legally problematic if not meritless as an essential part of his negotiating strategy to claim that the Republicans only have leverage because the President wants them to. Glenn's argument seems idiotic to me.

chiwhisoxx
07-14-2011, 06:49 PM
The American President, although it's hardly unique to Sorkin. I described it badly, assuming it would be recognized anyway. It's the whole "politician wants to do something uncourageous due to public approval, isn't very popular, ends up deciding he's going to do what he thinks he should anyway, and doing the right thing is always rewarded by the public/Congress/whoever being delighted and awarding the politician for his courageousness."

There were hints of this in West Wing, from the beginning liberal dream introduction of the president with the slapdown of the pretend Dr. Laura by repeating that stupid email string that was going around to the occasional character (usually the Pres.) overcomes political pressures and just does what Sorkin (presumably) would want a president to do. See, e.g., Let Bartlet be Bartlet. This tendency was much more undercut in West Wing, however.

Another version of this is the regular guy applies regular guy common sense and cuts through the political nonsense that keeps politicians from focusing on what the common man needs. Dave is a good example of this one.

the fact that you can reference specific west wing episodes off hand makes me very happy

Winspur
07-14-2011, 07:11 PM
In 1850 the Whigs (who tended to favor Northeastern industrial elites and high tariffs, and were lukewarm about slavery) and Democrats (who tended to favor Southern plantation elites, free trade, and the expansion of slavery) were the 2 dominant parties. It was hard to imagine that anything could shake up the system.

Within 5 years the Whig party had all but disappeared. Old Whigs (such as A. Lincoln) splintered into factions, one of which became the Republican Party. Other factions went the nativist anti-Catholic immigration route.

Today I see a similar process happening in American politics. The Democratic Party is beholden to financial-sector elites, and nothing is going to change that from within. The Republican party is beholden to energy-sector elites (mostly), who make common cause with science-haters and religious fundamentalists.

My aspirations for the betterment of America lie in a third party.

chiwhisoxx
07-14-2011, 08:00 PM
In 1850 the Whigs (who tended to favor Northeastern industrial elites and high tariffs, and were lukewarm about slavery) and Democrats (who tended to favor Southern plantation elites, free trade, and the expansion of slavery) were the 2 dominant parties. It was hard to imagine that anything could shake up the system.

Within 5 years the Whig party had all but disappeared. Old Whigs (such as A. Lincoln) splintered into factions, one of which became the Republican Party. Other factions went the nativist anti-Catholic immigration route.

Today I see a similar process happening in American politics. The Democratic Party is beholden to financial-sector elites, and nothing is going to change that from within. The Republican party is beholden to energy-sector elites (mostly), who make common cause with science-haters and religious fundamentalists.

My aspirations for the betterment of America lie in a third party.

the first point is that I think a third party just isn't going to happen. but beyond that, I'm not sure it would be a good thing. I agree that the two parties are in many ways beholden to certain interest groups. but why would this new third party be free from the magnetism of money and interest groups? this third party would theoretically hold positions, and lobbyists would lobby for this third party to hold certain positions. if you're counting on high moral fiber in this third party to prevent this, then I think that's pretty naive. if there's another way to extricate the political parties from this web of lobbyist capture, then why is the third party even necessary? I just think the current dynamic is to a large extent inevitable, and I don't see how a strong third party would help much.

AemJeff
07-14-2011, 08:12 PM
the first point is that I think a third party just isn't going to happen. but beyond that, I'm not sure it would be a good thing. I agree that the two parties are in many ways beholden to certain interest groups. but why would this new third party be free from the magnetism of money and interest groups? this third party would theoretically hold positions, and lobbyists would lobby for this third party to hold certain positions. if you're counting on high moral fiber in this third party to prevent this, then I think that's pretty naive. if there's another way to extricate the political parties from this web of lobbyist capture, then why is the third party even necessary? I just think the current dynamic is to a large extent inevitable, and I don't see how a strong third party would help much.

I see no reason to think a strong third party is very likely in the near future - though if the Teapers get pissed off enough they might try (and pull, I'd guess, 10-15 percent of voters with them.) But, that there's nothing logically with about the assertion; and Winspur's right, I think - who, in 1853 for example, would have predicted the success of the Republican party in U.S. politics?

As an answer to your questions about outside influences and the effect of interest groups on political parties - I'd say those things are obviously inevitable - power and influence are inextricably linked; however occasionally rebooting, as it were, is probably the best mechanism available to at least temporarily modulate those effects.

Don Zeko
07-14-2011, 09:03 PM
I see no reason to think a strong third party is very likely in the near future - though if the Teapers get pissed off enough they might try (and pull, I'd guess, 10-15 percent of voters with them.) But, that there's nothing logically with about the assertion; and Winspur's right, I think - who, in 1853 for example, would have predicted the success of the Republican party in U.S. politics?1

Sure, I'll grant that the rise of the Republican Party was awfully swift after 1850, but the 1850's were a very different time. Not only is there a lot more infrastructure built up around the major parties now than there was then, you don't have a cross-cutting issue with anything remotely approaching the political significance of slavery today. Given that we've had the same parties transform themselves profoundly without making space for a permanent third party repeatedly over the past 150 years, I doubt that we're going to replace our Donkeys and Elephants anytime soon.

AemJeff
07-14-2011, 09:13 PM
Sure, I'll grant that the rise of the Republican Party was awfully swift after 1850, but the 1850's were a very different time. Not only is there a lot more infrastructure built up around the major parties now than there was then, you don't have a cross-cutting issue with anything remotely approaching the political significance of slavery today. Given that we've had the same parties transform themselves profoundly without making space for a permanent third party repeatedly over the past 150 years, I doubt that we're going to replace our Donkeys and Elephants anytime soon.

I think we agree about the overall likelihood of a viable third party appearing; but, I don't think it's implausible. On the specific issue of pernicious outside influence I have a much stronger belief that new party could have a beneficial effect (in the short term) than Chiwi expressed. I also think that to the extent that there is chance that one might appear, the Republicans seem quite a bit more vulnerable than the Democrats at the moment.

Winspur
07-14-2011, 11:20 PM
On the specific issue of pernicious outside influence I have a much stronger belief that new party could have a beneficial effect (in the short term) than Chiwi expressed.

I concur. The Republican party was built by men (and some women) who felt the moral imperative to stop the expansion of slavery. The influence of corporations did not really make itself felt until Grant's presidency.

As to the question of what issue today would spark moral outrage in the American public, I think when poor elderly folks and the disabled start dying en masse when welfare spending is cut down to barebones levels, as is starting to happen now, people might get somewhat exercised about that.

stephanie
07-15-2011, 12:53 PM
I think we agree about the overall likelihood of a viable third party appearing; but, I don't think it's implausible. On the specific issue of pernicious outside influence I have a much stronger belief that new party could have a beneficial effect (in the short term) than Chiwi expressed. I also think that to the extent that there is chance that one might appear, the Republicans seem quite a bit more vulnerable than the Democrats at the moment.

It's all connected. Hypothetically, there's no reason to assume that the third party would be different, so saying I want a third party because the other two are hopelessly corrupted makes no sense to me. The forces are going to be the same, so might as well figure out how to deal with those forces with the parties we have.

Like DZ, though, I think the only likely basis for a third party arising would be some new issue that comes up or gets focused on in a new way which causes realignment. If that happens -- as I think it would have to, for a new party to become viable -- for at least a short period of time the hyper-focus on the issue would supercede the rest of this. I don't think this would last, any more than it has in the past, so it's not a good solution for good government types or those who dislike the influences we have, not long term. But it probably would be different.

Like the rest of you, though, I don't think it's likely at the moment.

Winspur
07-16-2011, 01:25 PM
Are you going to run for office yourself as a Democrat, stephanie? How else are you going to change the party from within?

eeeeeeeli
07-17-2011, 12:17 PM
No, I don't. Therefore, I think they need to figure out how to be a party that represents the working and middle classes given the context of today.

What does that involve?

Why is this turning into a question and answer?

Maybe you're distrustful of operatives intentions. But I thought he was asking excellent questions.

What does it mean to represent the working and middle classes today?

I think when there was a larger unionized manufacturing sector the Democrats were an ally for their interests in Washington. But now that that's dwindled so much, Democrats are seen to be picking winners and losers when they advocate for what remains - certain specific sectors like autoworkers, or public sector employes. Now the question is not, "Who will protect our pensions?", but - as Governor Christie dismayingly put it, "Who gets pensions anymore?" What once was an expression of solidarity, albeit self-interested, has now become a liability among the economic nihilists.

And the rightwing noise machine, cheerleaders for the big business race to sell out working class Americans in favor of profits, has been successful in selling the idea that what is good for big business is good for the working class. Pensions hurt the bottom line, which costs jobs - no matter that the savings have simply been funneled upwards and never trickled down.

To hear them tell it, the trickle down has all been taxed away. Yet this is clearly untrue. The working class surely isn't being taxed to death, and upper income rates have stayed low. Yet with all this savings in productivity, why is it that "no one gets pensions anymore?". Maybe much of it is the structural reality of a shift in manufacturing. But while those savings have trickled up, people are now forced to depend on fragile 401ks or social security - the latter there no longer exist tax revenues to pay for (or so we are told).

So the question remains: what is the Democratic response? And why is the Republican response seem to get so much traction?

Maybe the Republican response is simply to leverage people's sense of frustration and nihilism, running a platform of no one cares about you so get yours too. It seems that Republican populist success is largely based in class-resentment of liberals, who appear to be doing well, certainly with their decadent values, while Rome burns.

I'm loathe to tempt Godwin's law, but I'm struck by the dynamic of liberal-as-jew, seen to be in conspiracy with the levers of power (media, academia, government) to bring about the downfall of tradition and economic strength. The idea may be absurd, but it doesn't have to make sense. It just needs to feel like it does. The idea of tax increases seems almost as a back-door way to pad liberal coffers while loading the progressive cultural cannons and aiming them at main street.

So the Democrats can play into this caricature by showing they are on the right side of this image. They can ignore it entirely and push on with their limited agenda of gay rights, regulation and protecting the old and sick.

But the question remains: what are the Democrats offering the working class, aside from appearing culturally insensitive, redistributive to everyone but them, and making their employers seemingly miserable? They can talk until they are blue in the face about "creating jobs", but this just seems like bullshit. At the end of the day, jobs really do "trickle down", even if they're fragile, low-paying, non-union, with poor or non-existent benefits and retirement. Do Democrats have a plan for that?

stephanie
07-17-2011, 07:20 PM
Maybe you're distrustful of operatives intentions.

I felt that at the beginning of the thread there was an effort, not necessarily an intentional one, but just due to the views of the posters around then, specifically operative, to turn the discussion away from the declared topic and into a more general debate over left vs. right policy.

As I said initially, I don't see the concerns about the direction of the Dems as merely limited to one's preferred policy. In fact, I suspect that a Dem Party that gave better representation to the positions I'm talking about would reflect my personal views less well than the current one does, in at least some ways.

Beyond that, I was skeptical that any liberals (or probably even operative, outside of his desire to debate about evil unions or whatever) would be unclear of what I meant, and more interested with getting into the discussion with others who shared my view on the problem or who were, in fact, even more bothered by the current Dems than I am. The topic was motivated by the frequent discussions that were springing up between people who self-identify as Dems or liberals or leftists or, sigh, progressives. I felt like it might be good to have a place to talk about our debates, rather than turn everything into a repetition of the same old left v. right debate.

That said, if operative asked something that you think needed to be answered and wasn't, I'm happy to address it.

stephanie
07-17-2011, 07:36 PM
But the question remains: what are the Democrats offering the working class, aside from appearing culturally insensitive, redistributive to everyone but them, and making their employers seemingly miserable? They can talk until they are blue in the face about "creating jobs", but this just seems like bullshit. At the end of the day, jobs really do "trickle down", even if they're fragile, low-paying, non-union, with poor or non-existent benefits and retirement. Do Democrats have a plan for that?

Well, remember, the discussion is about whether it would be desireable for the Dems to move left and what this means. I'd argue that moving left means, in large part, considering the concerns of the working class. Your argument seems to buy into the notion that the Dems as they currently exist aren't supporting the working class interests (I disagree with this) or could be doing more (I agree). It also reflects the idea that there's a perception within the working class that the Dems aren't on their side, which I would say supports the notion that moving "left" in this sense, rather than scaring away those who don't self-identify as "leftists," might, in fact, help with various groups. I think the problem is "left" or "liberal" is used as if it includes a consistent set of political positions, when that's clearly not true.

So what do the Dems do for the working class? Well, I realize that current leftwing orthodoxy is that there's no difference between Obama and Paul Ryan, but the Dems support progressive taxes, Social Security, Medicare, a minimum wage, EITC, other tax incentives which we can debate, policies that are generally more supportive of unions (although I agree with your comments on this front, largely), having and extending unemployment benefits, so on. Also various other policies (consumer protection, for example), that influence people's lives more than they often are aware.

The Republicans, among other things, are currently on this kick that half of the country, more or less, don't pay taxes and should. This includes many of these people who may well be in your group that think all benefits go to others.

I think the Dems can and should do more, and if people agree that that's so, talking about the structural reasons why the Dems aren't. Part of this is genuine debates over what adviseable policy is. For example, I think it's obvious that economic orthodoxy (which I buy into, largely) in the Dems, as well as the Republicans, is that freer trade tends to be better for the economy. With other policies, such as more active government programs re jobs or being more forceful against the idea that lowering taxes is the way to create jobs, I think it is more fear of seeming too "liberal." The current discussion about SocSec/Medicare is, I think, a combination.

uncle ebeneezer
07-20-2011, 09:35 PM
I should have cross-posted this here (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpost.php?p=217616&postcount=1). In case any of you feel like incorporating it into the discussion of where the D party should go.

cragger
07-24-2011, 01:14 AM
Democrats are fooling themselves if they think that demographics are going to lead them to success. From the Pew center polls:

http://people-press.org/2011/07/22/gop-makes-big-gains-among-white-voters/

the party split among young white voters has completely flipped between 2008 and 2011 from a 49% to 42% advantage to a 41% to 52% disadvantage. Notably, the years in question correspond to the Obama administration and the period during which Democrats held both houses of Congress and the White House. I would say the results are hardly surprising. True or not, simply claiming the economy would have been even worse with the other guys in power isn't much of a sales pitch. More so from a party that doesn't seem to stand for anything or have much of a message and which voters have seen flip-flop, cave in, or sell out on nearly everything they ran on.

Take the debt ceiling crap from the daily headlines for just the latest example. Anyone who sees anything to support in what has been going on and what is going to come out of this is either quite happy that the rich will do well and the poor get screwed, or they see something about this all that I am entirely missing.

I don't see how voters can look at the performance of the Democrats over the last few years and not be turned off. On the other hand, the Republicans have created a major propaganda machine that dominates the media and works continually to build an emotional connection and identification of voters with the party. It's not tied to any single election or candidate, and someone who listens to talk radio on the way to work and goes home to watch Fox at night is generally going to become a person who considers political identification a part of who they are and is unlikely to change.

The Democrats have nothing to counter that, and precious little about their politicians these days that would inspire loyalty and party identification. They will still get some candidates elected. If the Republicans nominate Romney maybe they could even win that battle of the empty suits, though it's hardy clear why they would, at least at this point to me.

eeeeeeeli
07-24-2011, 01:41 PM
I guess want I want from this discussion is for those who are upset about the current state of our politics -- which is probably most everyone even slightly on the liberal or left side -- is to think about how to achieve success going forward. And what success is, where I think you and I have a lot of agreement with regard to the type of policies we need.

It seems that the real issue is over the middle, independent, swing voters. Is this not right? The base wants the party much further left, but it seems like everything comes down to representing the small portion of voters who can always swing right, like they did in '10. These seem to be the voters that pushed from single-payer to the ACA, smaller stimulus, tax fears, and most policies that the left opposed.

What the discussion seems to be about is "selling" these voters on a more liberal agenda. But my worry has always been that this category of voter isn't even sure what they believe. They don't seem to have their ideological "ducks lined up" that make it so much easier for the base of either party to get on board with a right or left agenda. As "swing" voters, they seem highly susceptible to sheep-like thinking, in that they sort of go with big flows of momentum, as opposed to staking out clear policy preferences.

So if you want to sell the right on the idea that cutting taxes is good for growth, and creates jobs, all you have to do is basically say it, and the underlying assumptions are there. And if you want to sell the left on raising taxes on the rich, and the need for entitlement programs, the case is already largely made.

So how do you sell either to the swing voters, who my suspicion tells me are not even that interested in politics or political philosophy to begin with? I mean, take for instance the fact that this forum itself seems to have very few swing voters on it. Sure, debating is fun, but the depths to which you have to go to even move the needle slightly on any issue is sort of tremendous. One would think a swing voter, by definition more flexible and open to different arguments, would be easier to convince - yet they are the least likely to be around for the debate!

So here's a question - what portion of the Democratic party do these folks make up? Their representatives in congress (and to an extent the electoral considerations of the president) are the ones holding the party to the right. Were their representatives to take more left positions, they would face real election problems in their districts, as presumably voters would potentially vote Republican.

stephanie
07-24-2011, 04:04 PM
It seems that the real issue is over the middle, independent, swing voters. Is this not right? The base wants the party much further left, but it seems like everything comes down to representing the small portion of voters who can always swing right, like they did in '10. These seem to be the voters that pushed from single-payer to the ACA, smaller stimulus, tax fears, and most policies that the left opposed.

I think this is one of the debates. The way politics get framed everyone is fighting over the swing voters, who are assumed to be centrists, but others argue either that bigger gains are possible by getting the more leftwing or younger ones who otherwise won't voter or else by going for some kind of realignment. The Republicans seem to have gone with the "go more extreme" plan with some payoff. The realignment argument suggests, for example, there are other realignment possibilities, that some people who vote Republican on social issues are, perhaps, more left wing on economic issues and open to the Dems if those issues become more prominent or the Dems really offer an alternative.

I'm not convinced by either of these alternative theories, but I think they are worth discussing.

As "swing" voters, they seem highly susceptible to sheep-like thinking, in that they sort of go with big flows of momentum, as opposed to staking out clear policy preferences.

Could be, or it could be that the people we are talking about have more defined views that put them between the parties as they are currently defined. I'm certainly open to the idea that people in general don't really focus on issues when voting. I think it's more of an overall perception and associations.

I agree with a number of your comments that I am not addressing.

So here's a question - what portion of the Democratic party do these folks make up? Their representatives in congress (and to an extent the electoral considerations of the president) are the ones holding the party to the right. Were their representatives to take more left positions, they would face real election problems in their districts, as presumably voters would potentially vote Republican.

One of my arguments, I think, is that the Dems who anger more leftwing Dems on various issues aren't necessarily the product of a focus on swing voters. They are the product of a funding problem plus regional differences and the nature of the Dem coalition (that people on the left on some issues aren't necessarily those on the left on others).

stephanie
08-10-2011, 02:25 PM
There's been talk lately (no kidding) about whether opening up debate about certain aspects of the third rail entitlement programs -- SocSec and Medicare -- is an attack on Democratic values and something no good Dem would ever do. Among the issues are proposals about means testing entitlements. Miceelf had an idea about Medicare and means testing in another thread, for example.

I'm not particularly for or against means testing -- it would depend on the proposal, I suppose. But I'm interested in thinking through the political implications and how it relates to the argument(s) in this thread.

For example, my impression is that liberal values aren't really attacked by means testing. Instead, there's a fear that the only reason the programs are popular is because they are for everyone and that means testing would contradict this idea. Therefore, it would play into the right's crafty plan of whittling down entitlements until they are only some form of welfare and then attacking them as welfare as been attacked. Medicare becomes Medicaid, for example.

My suspicion is that some anti-entitlement types are on board such an argument, and that such motives are behind some of this. But I also think some in the intellectual right actually prefer programs directed to the poor than broad-based entitlement programs. The problem is the public as a whole doesn't agree and I think broad-based entitlements serve other liberal concerns (security and stability and a strong middle class, among others).

What troubles me about some of the reaction to the willingness of some Dems to put the entitlement programs on the table -- is whether this is pure reaction, they want it so it must be bad for us. Or is it accurate but political concerns? Or is it, as the rhetoric seems to suggest, more principle? If the latter, in what sense?

With respect to the principle/political arguments, also, how do they play? I think there's a notion that budget cutting and pragmatic concerns about growing costs and so on are appealing to many of the independent types that the new Dems appeal to, as well as the block of the party who once upon a time might have been liberal Republicans. But it also seems like entitlements and not cutting them in general are more popular with both the more left Dems, the more working class Dems,* and especially the group of former Dems who seem to be more likely to vote Republican these days but would probably react badly if they understood an attack on entitlements to be made. This latter group is likely why the Republicans want the Dems to sign on to any changes that actually happen.

Finally, I expect there's something generational here. Gen X, IME, has grown up thinking that we won't get SocSec, etc., because the Baby Boomers would break the program. (Yes, I know the arguments to the contrary.) I used to think this meant that Gen X would be more willing to accept changes, but I'm now thinking that it means Gen X and younger might be more resentful of ideas that would change the program after the Baby Boomers but before us. At least, I know I was a little irritated by the Ryan plan and the assurances to current old people for that reason, and that wasn't even such a clear generational divide. I'm not sure how this plays with people in their 20s now, though -- the generational stuff may be meaningless.

*This seems right to me, but it also seems odd, since in means testing they would lose nothing and the richer Dems who seem more likely to be in principle in favor would. So I'd be interested in arguments to the contrary or any actual evidence.

TwinSwords
08-10-2011, 03:12 PM
For example, my impression is that liberal values aren't really attacked by means testing. Instead, there's a fear that the only reason the programs are popular is because they are for everyone and that means testing would contradict this idea. Therefore, it would play into the right's crafty plan of whittling down entitlements until they are only some form of welfare and then attacking them as welfare as been attacked. Medicare becomes Medicaid, for example.

Good analysis. At work, so I don't have for any but the most cursory response. I just wanted to say that I think that for many rightwingers, they have the same goal with public education: they want to use vouchers and charter schools to eventually whittle down and undermine public schools until they can be stigmatized like welfare, something only lazy, probably black, people use, and that hard working people have to support. Well, more than they already do, I mean.

This isn't to say there isn't merit to vouchers or charter schools, just as the concerns you raise about means testing for entitlements don't preclude the value of those suggestions. But as with the entitlements, consideration of reforms intoduces possibilities for conservatives to continue attacking the interests and needs of the American people.

Ultimately, the American people are going to have to figure out a way to protect their own interests from the encroachments and attacks of the right -- something so far they have been unable to do.

stephanie
08-10-2011, 04:09 PM
Ultimately, the American people are going to have to figure out a way to protect their own interests from the encroachments and attacks of the right -- something so far they have been unable to do.

This general topic seems to me to fit into the internet debate surrounding Henry Farrell's claim that neoliberals (like Matt Yglesias) lack a theory of politics. That discussion seemed to move into other issues, such as ideas about inequality and how significant it is, but the broader question is how one's policy proposals actually fit into the political process and can be implemented and sustained without being undermined. If a policy appears attractive but undermines its own support, which one could argue is the case for a variety of policies popular among neoliberals, possibly including the ones we are talking about, that's important.

I'm totally split, because I have historically been quite attracted to a lot of neoliberal (in the sense we are using it) arguments and that approach to policy, and only now starting to that there may be inherent problems.

popcorn_karate
08-10-2011, 06:26 PM
There's been talk lately (no kidding) about whether opening up debate about certain aspects of the third rail entitlement programs -- SocSec and Medicare -- is an attack on Democratic values and something no good Dem would ever do.

that is the way i see it. What got us into this mess was Republican's zeal for useless wars and desire to make the rich richer. until the causes for the current problem are corrected, I think any democrat willing to sacrifice the interests of the middle class and poor are worthless sell outs.

after financial regs are actually implemented, after we are actually out of Iraq, after the bush tax cuts expire - then is the time to take stock of the situation and see if entitlement reform is warranted. until then - no fucking way.

stephanie
08-10-2011, 08:36 PM
that is the way i see it. What got us into this mess was Republican's zeal for useless wars and desire to make the rich richer. until the causes for the current problem are corrected, I think any democrat willing to sacrifice the interests of the middle class and poor are worthless sell outs.

after financial regs are actually implemented, after we are actually out of Iraq, after the bush tax cuts expire - then is the time to take stock of the situation and see if entitlement reform is warranted. until then - no fucking way.

I think my problem with the "real Dems don't talk about entitlement reform" thing is that the constituency for entitlement reform existed well before the Ryan nonsense and faux crisis, and is really more an issue for a segment of the Dems and independents than the Republicans. The Republicans are more likely to use scare tactics about costs to try and attack the fundamentals of the program and push privatization. Also, whether we like it or not, concerns relate to the increasing medical costs, especially at the end of life, plus demographic issues (the Baby Boomers). And true or not, I think the idea that the latter was going to be a problem has been widely accepted for years.

Yes, I know Dems have run on protecting entitlements forever (despite the '86 compromise being widely portrayed as a big success), but the first time I recall this idea of Dems not being permitted to talk about concerns or reform at all was when Krugman was pushing it during the '08 primaries (in '07, if memory serves). I think the attitude probably stems from a few years earlier, when I think some were seriously worried that Bush would succeed in his SocSec plan.

But as for protecting the poor/middle class, I think the argument is about what makes for a stronger entitlement program. While I do see good political arguments that the changes proposed go against this, as I noted above, and I am not currently pushing for any of them, I also think it's true that lots of people genuinely think some of the proposed reforms would make the program stronger. That's why we worked cost controls into the health care bill, for example. I don't see the discussion of costs and coverage re Medicare to be anti-Dem at all; it's one we'd have to have in connection with a single payer system, and the best approach there would be to put Medicare in shape so that it could be expanded. Similarly, while I have greater concerns with means testing, ideas about means testing along the lines miceelf was talking about or increasing the cap at which the tax cuts off don't seem to me to increase the burden on the poor/middle class. They merely may be politically problematic.

But like I said, I think that matters, because protecting the programs matter.