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I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It's all the Progressives' fault!:
   A little self-flogging to appease their masters

David Sirota, senior editor of InTheseTimes.com and a progressive, flogs himself and all progressives for failing the Democratic Party.

My self-confessed progressive response:

Incredible. Declare falsehoods to be truth and you can prove anything.

The one symptom Sirota fails to mention, the one he suffers from as well, is denial.

(John Kerry's nomination) was the most non-ideological of choices in what we were supposed to believe was the most ideological of races.

John Kerry was losing to Howard Dean, the true ideology of the 2004 race, until Kerry took his cue from Dean and steered his campaign to a much more vigorous opposition to the Iraq War. Kerry didn't start to lead the pack until he co-opted Dean's message. It was only after that, and after Dean's tantrum, that Kerry earned his electability.

In fairness, Iraq may be an exception when it comes to the grassroots. There is undoubtedly a palpable - and growing - core of progressives outside the Beltway who put their desire to see American troops withdraw above their partisan loyalties.

No. No. No. That is the falsehood that is costing Democrats elections. That blatant partisanship is gutting the Party for the second time in three decades. As a strong believer in Bush’s post 9/11 foreign policy, I cheered when the Democratic Party abandoned their traditional issues in favor of taking down Bush on Iraq.

The Party has always had plenty of issues, real issues, to challenge a Bush Presidency. As a previous article, and debate, perversely illustrated, the social policies of the "far right" is Bush's real weakness. But instead of rallying the troops to fight that battle, the Democrats rested on their complacent arses, confident they had already won that battle. Instead, they targeted Bush's strength.

I certainly understand the machiavellian calculations in that. If you cut Samson's hair, the rest is cake.

But, the operators of the Democratic machine vastly underestimated both the instinctive support-the-president-in-time-of-war reaction as well as the more basic fundamentals to the policy. Carp all you want about Halliburton and Bush-Saudi Conspiracy Theories, the American public still wants to see a proud and strong America.

Read the papers over the past 10 years. Read the Op-eds and the Letters to the Editor. There is an underlying frustration and anger with the populous at large, for lack of a better phrase, with elitist Eastern liberalism. That anti-elitism hit new heights in the subsequent criticisms of anti-Americanisms. At a gut level, the populous, right or wrong, began to see the Democratic Party as castrating.

It is no coincidence that the two greatest Republican Presidents in the past 45 years are seen as Western politicians. They must be the greatest; they are so vilified by the Democratic machinery.

(Sirota’s Syndrome) is an affliction that hollowed out much of the Democratic base’s economic and national security convictions.

What is hollowing out that base is a growing perception of the increasing irrelevance of the Democratic Party. In the first gutting, Reagan Democrats left the Party largely on dissatisfaction with the entrenchment of a Party that was more concerned with power than policies. Sirota's syndrome is not a consequence of the Partisan Wars that marked the Clinton presidency, but from an earlier age where rank and file union and party membership were ignored by union and Party leadership.

There is a reason Reagan Democrats were called Democrats.

Even today, labor is spending $80 million dollars fighting Governor Schwarzenegger's Proposition 75 that would require government unions to get the approval of their rank and file membership before spending union funds to fight political battles against requiring union accountability as they spend millions of dollars in political campaigns against union reforms that ..., yadda, yadda, yadda, ad nauseum.

And, after many decades of New Deals and Great Societies, noble efforts to be sure, we are seeing that the implementations of those policies were not perfect. It is the height of progressive hypocrisy to decry "Hands Off!" as reformers attempt to fix social programs that are not delivering the goods. Creating a political base dependent on Democrats for a permanent dole is no different than the corrupt partisan government bureaucracies of 120 years ago.

The second gutting of the Democratic Party did truly start with the Partisan Wars of the 90s. Progressives in the Republican Party, who saw the danger early on, started calling for accountability in social programs. It is not enough to put those in need of a social net on the dole. Welfare is for emergency situations, to give a "leg up" to those economically dislocated by circumstance or chance. What happened, though is that once the Democratic Party broke the glass and pulled the fire alarm, nobody replaced the glass.

What is killing the Democratic Party is that they have indeed forgotten their progressive roots. Picking unwinnable fights, forgetting that progressivism is about fixing things and making them better; this is why progressives like me are leaving the Party.

The Republican Party is not the intrinsic antipode of progressives. Being a progressive is believing in social evolution, working for change that improves peoples lives. The difference between the two major Parties is not of direct opposites; 18th Century French Philosophy (the left vs the right) is limited by the lack of dimensionality. The major poles of the two Parties are on a different axis. The core value of the Democratic Party is progressivism; social evolution. But the Republican’s core value is not about reactionary conservatism. It is about classical liberalism distrusting governments.

When their Party abandons change in favor of outdated solutions that are beginning to show signs of arthritis, when their Party starts to be more concerned with conserving what they have and resists change, progressives start to see the difference between the two parties becoming largely irrelevant.

Progressives can change the world without sucking on the teat of government.


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