If you haven't already heard, an odd hodgepodge of nefarious ideological zealots have hijacked the Republican Party and turned it into a Frankenstein-like monster through which the "good ol' days" of America can be revisited and returned. By "good ol' days," these individuals mean the days of the Great Depression, the Civil War, Jim Crowe, and the Robber Barons. You know, the times in America when the federal government didn't involve itself much in the fortunes and ill-fates of its citizens. What a festive time to be alive, huh?!
Enter our new main protagonist, Rick Perry, a self-proclaimed God-fearing American and scorner of "big government" whose one-liners are as effective at destroying his political competition as a viper's venom is at killing its victims. Perry is so beloved by the Tea Partiers because he salutes our "brave men and women" in the armed forces while denouncing the existence of the bloated state, denies climate change while Texas continues through a horrible drought, and decries the evils of big government while readily accepting federal subsidies. What more could a truly patriotic Tea- Partier ask for out of his presidential nominee?
On the planet we call earth, in the year of 2011, in the great country of America, we have turned to face the right. Yes, we have turned to the right so considerably that George W. Bush brings back memories of Samuel Gompers and not, well, George W. Bush's two terms as president...
Assuming that the current budget deal is rushed through both chambers of the Congress, a terrible precedent has been set that may have negative effects for many years to come. The precedent is this: hold the American economy hostage or any other integral systemic feature of American society, and you'll have your policy demands met! Responsible governing, that's a phenomenon of previous congress's.
As progressives, we have ourselves to blame as well. We didn't do enough to stop this madness! While the Tea Party put boots on the ground and sent multitudinous phone calls to their legislators, progressives sat back bemused by anxiety, misunderstanding, and frustration. Why is "our" president not defending our policies?
The open secret about politics is that to be heard you have to speak! Maybe we didn't speak enough or loud enough. Whatever the answer, we know we have to do more from here on out because our current strategies obviously didn't work.
Okay, we get it, you want a "balanced budget." But aren't there better ways to reduce America's deficit and swipe away its debt than to put a gun to head of the U.S. (metaphorically speaking of course!)? Doubtless there is. But most conservatives and some within the libertarian fold see this moment in America's history as "the" time to clean up our economic house.
I feel as though I'm in a cubist painting, unable to grasp the full dimensionality of what the Republican Party and its followers are truly hoping to accomplish. Don't they see that their gamble could essentially throw America into an economic tailspin, the likes of which we may never fully recover from? I have to believe that these individuals are not so reckless. I have to believe that these individuals simply see the current political situation in an entirely different way than I do.
What is absolutely clear is that these individuals on the right of the political spectrum have become completely blinded by their "balanced budget" ideology and their fiscal conservatism, so much so that anything that seems to them to go against this dogmatic policy position should be fundamentally and totally rejected. Compromise? Nope, not on your life. They don't understand the meaning of the word.
The biggest curse and the biggest blessing of being a liberal is that compromise is built into our political ideologies. Compromise is not a bad thing, it's what makes a republic function without dissolution. But all too often, those of a conservative political persuasion, in particular, look at compromise as "unmanly," or whatever non-masculine term they wish to pluck from their limited lexicon.
Should liberals discard their willingness to compromise? No. Win or lose, we are in the right and our higher moral ground should not be abandoned for the mud holes that many Republican politicians always seem to be found in (e.g. Eric Cantor).
With the downfall of Rep. Anthony Weiner, the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, the ousting of Senator Russ Feingold, and the dissecting out of Rep. Dennis Kucinich's congressional district, it's difficult to find many liberal members of Congress that continue to stand up for a no-excuses liberal policy agenda (granted, some of these said individuals didn't always toe the liberal policy line themselves). America, it seems, has moved further to the right and many of our "liberal" political representatives across the country appear unwilling to stick out their political necks for an agenda that seems less capable of making any political headway. Take Rep. Nancy Pelosi as one major example of this point. What some conservatives decry as a "radical liberal" (i.e. Nancy Pelosi) is to liberals like myself a pragmatic liberal who will shirk her liberal policies when circumstances dictate such an event.
Indeed, our Congress is full of pragmatic liberals like Jim Webb, Mark Warner, Henry Waxman, and many more. Although I respect these individuals for their relatively solid political leadership, they have consistently thrown off the liberal mantel when the coast has not been absolutely clear. Their unwillingness to stand up for a liberal policy agenda has left many of their liberal constituents without a voice in the Congress or a friend to turn to.
As America moves further to the right of the political spectrum, more individuals in the liberal camp will necessarily find themselves outside of the mainstream political discourse, a discourse which was never that liberal to begin with. If, however, you respond that the recent legalization of gay marriage in house of New York State provides a counterargument to my point, let's not be so quick to jump to that conclusion. The legalization (at least for now) of gay marriage in New York was not premised upon "equality for all," even though you'll hear shades of this argument. Rather, the right for gay individuals to marry was based upon an argument of "individual rights," a classical liberal argument. Liberals seek basic equality on moral grounds, not necessarily on grounds of individual rights and freedoms, even though this is a major component of modern liberal thought.
Here on Blue Virginia, we support worthy progressive candidates and causes wherever we can. But we don't refrain from letting folks on the left know when they've got their head stuck up their crotch.
Which is the case both literally and figuratively in San Francisco, where a referendum on banning male circumcision has been approved for the ballot.
My friends on the left side of the fence, we have many, many legitimate causes to champion and battles to fight. Saving the lowly foreskin is not one of them.
There is simply no evidence that the millions of men who were circumcised as babies are less healthy or happy then those who were not. I speak from experience here. (No cracks from the peanut gallery.)
Granted, Woody Allen is a mess, but he's still done pretty well for himself...
The proposed law would constitute a bit of ethnic cleansing among San Fran's Jewish population, and some Moslems, for whom circumcision is a religious duty. And all for what? Because some group calling itself "intactivists" consider the male member to be under assault.
Right there, we can see that Democrats are losing the messaging war once again. In typically clueless Democratic fashion, Democrats are unwittingly using Republican frames, reinforcing the Republican conservative view of the world and of The Deal, even as they think they are attacking it. George Lakoff, author of The Political Mind, writing "Untellable Truths" in on-line truth out says, in effect, "Stop using the slogan "No tax cuts for millionaires." Stop using it immediately!
Give Republicans credit for this: They don't chase the center, they try to move it. Democrats can play a loser's game of scrambling after a center being pushed ever rightward. Or they can stand their ground and show how far their opponents are from moderate, problem-solving governance. Why should Democrats take Republican advice that Republicans themselves would never be foolish enough to follow?
That is the final paragraph of E. J. Dionne's column in today's Washington Post, titled as is this diary, Democrats should hold their ground.
Of course, apparently some, including David Axelrod, are already prepared to cave on things like extending Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. That - Axelrod's position - is not only economically stupid, it is a political stupid and weak move.
I think Dionne is largely on topic in his column, which I will explore a bit more as well as offer some additional words of my own.