Revelation 24 - The Democrats are Like the Republicans, but Without All the Guns.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Either you believe in civil liberties or you don't; it's one thing - one, ugly, gutless thing to criticize the left, the moveon.orgs in an effort to make that general election "move to the center" that is part of the Democrats playbook. It's irritating; it's insulting, and it's not surprising - guys like Obama don't have to move far to get to the center; in fact, they'd have to move left in order to get there.

But rhetoric is one thing - if the nominee of the Democratic party does not stand on a table and shout as the US Senate authorizes warrantless surveillance of US citizens (and gives cover for the Bush Administration's policy of what was then, inarguably, felonious surveillance) I'm uncertain why the Democratic party is needed. It would be better for the Democrats to disappear; at least then the illusion that we have a left wing political party in this country would be harder to sell. There is literally nothing Democrats could do which is conservative enough that they wouldn't be immediately branded as crazy liberals, enemies of Jesus and Capitalism by the Republicans. The FISA vote will quickly be framed not as capitulation by the Democratic party but as an issue that transcends ideology, that even liberals basically agree with the President.

They don't. A liberal not only would never, ever, ever have cast this vote, he'd resign his seat in protest.

After 9-11, the most common response from Americans when asked why the attacks took place was "they hate us for our freedoms."

This is childish, obviously - but pretending for the moment that it's true, this FISA vote may, in fact, have the impact of ending the need for the "war on terror", as we have less freedom than did we yesterday.


Anonymous said...

"There is literally nothing Democrats could do which is conservative enough that they wouldn't be immediately branded as crazy liberals, enemies of Jesus and Capitalism by the Republicans."

If it's any consolation, as a card-carrying member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (membership # TK-421), I can confirm that there's nothing Republicans could do that is liberal enough that they wouldn't be branded as cold-hearted idiots who are slaves to Big Business.

I wouldn't worry about it, though. Obama's going to win the Presidency, the Democrats will increase their holdings in both the House and Senate, and we'll find out how Liberal both the Democratic party and the country really is. And the Republicans can go off in a corner, read William F. Buckley, and try to figure out where we went wrong.

Jim said...

1. Yeah, Obama's gonna win, and from my perspective, that's a good thing as opposed to McCain's winning; it's just only a minor improvement as opposed to having an actual liberal Administration.

2. Republicans aren't idiots; I think the Bush Administration has achieved its most important goals; I think those goals are carnivorous and essentially not of value to virtually all of those who have supported them - but not idiots. I think the "they hate us for our freedoms" and other such good and evil characterizations of this or any other foreign conflict are simpleminded. I think if one disbelieves evolution, or thinks that Obama's got a secret plan to convert the country to Islam or that John Kerry said he would ban the bible - that speaks to a severe intellectual deficit, or, better stated, a lack of interest in facts. But those are branches on the tree as opposed to the roots of conservatism; there's nothing inherently dumb about being conservative.
3. Slaves to big business I can't help you with. I'd just offer that the evidence suggests both parties are slavishly devoted to corporate America; the difference between our two characterizations is, in my view, Democratic officials/candidates continually demonstrate that they are married to corporate power and willing to concede ground on church/state issues to the most conservative Christians - and still, the Republicans hit them as leftists.

Me - I'm a leftist. I'm a member of the ACLU; I own all of Noam Chomsky's books and have corresponded with Michael Moore. My view of American history is closer to Howard Zinn than to David McCullough, and when Barbara Ehrenreich writes a book about gender or class, I'm first in line. None of my heroes ain't appear on no stamp. And the Democrats are utterly disinterested in what I have to say. The Democrats who get elected to national office and who appear in the mainstreammedia are almost entirely to my right, and far to my right.

But those Democrats, no matter how far to my right they line up - they are labeled as extremists - the left/right box in which the discussion fits is still Michael Kinsley to Pat Buchanan - and that encompasses pretty much everyone on your side, and almost no one out by me. If there's a liberal Ann Coulter/Michelle Malkin/Laura Ingraham with the level of inflammatory language and mainstream penetration, I'd like to buy his/her books.

The Republicans have effectively shifted the frame; it was Ike who coined the phrase military-industrial complex - if a Democrat today gave Ike's farewell address, talking about how many bombs built equaled how many bushels of wheat we couldn't grow, he'd be labeled a dangerous, America hating, terrorist sympathizer. And every time the Democrats capitulate on FISA, or some equivalent, all they do is allow that frame to continue.

We have two right of center political parties in this country. The Republicans are a little further right, which is why I prefer the Democrats, but it the definition of the lesser of two evils.

Anonymous said...


It's a matter of perspection. You're wanting a actual Liberal administration. I'm still waiting for an actual Conservative administration (Reagan's first term came closest) From my POV, we have two left of center parties in the US, with the Republicans better but still not where they should be.

The classic Liberal-Conservative debate line is how much power centralized government should have over the individual, with Conservatives favoring the individual and Liberals favoring government. We live in a society where taxes (federal, state, local, Social Security, Medicare, etc.) account for about half of our income, and we came within one Supreme Court vote of deciding that the DC community could decide if an individual could own a firearm without their permission. If the line's not as far as you like it, it's nowhere near as close as I think it should be.

The frame has shifted since the 50's- but that's because the debate was so far in the Liberal direction 50 years ago that it was going to bounce back. Back in the 50's, there was no intellectual Conservative movement. It's very possible that the frame will be shifting again.

Democrats and Republicans aren't really concerned with Liberalism or Conservatism. They're interested in winning elections. Forget Iraq- look at Bush's track record in spending and his willingness to increase the size and scope of governement. THIS is a Conservative?

And both parties tend to emphasize the cultural issues, because it's easier to get voters fired up about those issues than philosophical issues. It's been easier to demonize an opponent than to explain why free-trade economic policies are good for the country. So liberals become godless commies who want to take away our guns, free the criminals, and kill the babies. While Republicans are sexless religious fanatics who are backwater idiots that can't appreciate sophistication.

If there's one bright spot from this campaign, it's that I don't think the tactics that have been used for the past 40 years are working anymore. Any attempt to demonize either Obama or McCain has been blown off by the population as a whole. Obama's winning because (a) he's a fantastic politican and (b) the economy sucks, and the Republicans are being blamed for it (rightfully) and (c) Bush stopped trying to defend himself four years ago.

One side note- isn't Michael Moore the liberal version of Ann Coulter? Granted, she writes books instead of making movies, but both are entertainers who appeal to a niche market and make inflammatory remarks all the time.

joepet said...

Any thoughts on the death of Tony Snow? Regardless of the depths of assininity (if such a bastardization of "asinine" could be used as an actual word) he had to stoop to to defend his boss, he did his job better than any press secretary I've known before or since.

Dana Perino couldn't hold his jock strap even if she wanted to.

Jim said...

I got no interest in Tony Snow - but Dana Perino wins the award as hottest Press Secretary or above in the history of the republic. Second only to that he likes baseball in the qualities about George Bush that I appreciate is that he signed off on hiring her. Excellent stuff.

On the other - I don't know that conservatives have ever favored the individual; the accumulation of individual wealth in this country was always done with the aid of friendly courts and legislatures - and culturally, be it matters of who I can sleep with or what I can watch on TV or what I can put in my body - culturally, conservatives really like to tell me what to do.

Liberals, granted, have a collectivist economic view - my view of the best economic outcome for the US would be 1950s top marginal tax rates - I absolutely want your money and make no apologies for it, but I'd let you live your life your own way. Granted, most Democrats wouldn't - but Democrats aren't liberals, they're conservatives - or better stated - they're Republicans.

My other thought is that if we have two left of center parties - what is it that exists throughout the rest of the western world? Because the US demonstrably tilts to the right and not a little bit right of Europe.

Nah, Michael Moore isn't Ann Coulter, unless he called the equivalent to John Edwards a faggot and jokes about blowing up the NY Times and having liberals executed for treason. The types of things Ann Coulter says the level of language, that's not something you're ever gonna find from the left in the mainstream.

Essentially - yeah, Democrats/Republicans are far less interested in ideas than in power - and media is essentially interested in salaciousness, and Americans are generally uninterested in having to think too hard. And the result is where we are, every generation, a little bit dumber, a little further behind, a little more in the hole. I am not optimistic.

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