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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Good, Good Reading

In a delightful essay, Pedro The Quietist points out the problem with running on a purely negative political agenda:
The Democratic Party jettisoned political philosophy and ideals a long time ago in favor of the short-term psychological boost of identity politics. That is, it's not what you believe that's important, it's who you are.
If the Democrats were to clarify and stand strong with any beliefs, they would immediately alienate one wing of their party: first-wave vs. second-wave feminism, environmentalists vs. labor unions, trial lawyers vs. socialized medicine types, gay activists and feminists and secularists vs. anti-American apologists for Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, etc.
Therefore, clarifying their beliefs is absolutely not a priority. Instead, they are forced to stake out an entirely negative position on any issue.
I have an image of a group lost in the desert wandering aimlessly as the vultures circle. When someone suggests they should come up with a plan and stick to it, the response is to say, "no, we don't need a plan, we just need to wander about with more conviction."
It's long and Pedro cites examples. The problem this presents to most Americans is that they really like and support most liberal principles. Boiled down to its essence, liberalism is humanistic and places great value and faith on human capital. That is politics a la Jefferson and Moynihan. Liberalism used to be confident and pragmatic in the US. Liberalism used to be about making things better - now it's the province of absolutist elitists.

I think this stalemate of liberalism by the people who pretend to support it could end very quickly. My guess is that the current mess is created by a few political operatives along with the Pelosis of the political world who control money for Democratic candidates. The good news is that Lieberman's numbers are still holding strong, which should mean that those who dare to dissent will be emboldened. I'd love to see a brawl break out among the rank and file of Democratic politicians about their agenda. I'd love to see some pragmatic and achievable policy suggestions emerging from the ranks of the Democratic party.

I'd love to see a repudiation of doctrine like Carl's latest roundup of what he entitles moonbattery. Note that he also includes examples of liberals arguing for traditional liberalism. If the Dems could drop the anti-Semitism, gain a little respect for people around the world, and stop worshipping at the feet of Belafonte and Sheehan we could get back to the difficult and necessary business of arguing about how we could increase prosperity and opportunity inside and outside of the United States. As it is, it's only BusHitler Republicans who are standing on the world stage arguing for dropping customs barriers that work against the third world nations. It's only BusHitler Republicans who are arguing that the world should and must support the development of representative governments as a long-term cure for poverty, human rights abuses and terrorism.

The problem with the Democratic party is that it has stopped being truly liberal because it has stopped working on any practical program whatsoever. Because of that, the more liberal wing of the Republican party has gained ascendance. It's impossible for any party to gain power by attacking the political center of the nation, so now the progressives are trying to destroy the center (as documented by Dr. Sanity). This is not an endeavor that the American citizens will support.

It they did, the result would be a political situation uncannily similar to Germany in the 1930's. You can see this happening already in the debate over illegal immigration. When the center is destroyed, the fringes dominate the debate. We must control illegal immigration because it is a severe national security threat; we also need these people economically. We also owe them some respect as human beings; if we allow companies to hire them surely we cannot permit them to be exploited. Our law and our behavior is inconsistent and now morally indefensible, and our current strategy of doing nothing is the worst possible strategy. It is allowing the situation to get worse and worse; some states are crumpling under the burden of trying to provide services to these people, and we are creating a second-class group in a country whose laws and constitution demand that no such group can exist. The backlash is coming.

If the Dems can't jettison the destructive element of their political agenda by 2008, we're going to have to create a new party, because we must have real choices when it comes to elections and we must be able to argue around the center in order to keep our national ethos alive.

I think of Boomer and his call for a third party all the time. He identified control of funding by national leaders of parties as the mechanism by which dissent among the rank and file was suppressed, and I think he was right.

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