Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Triangulating the Democrats

During the '90's it was fashionable to talk about how President Clinton had successfully triangulated the Republicans and co-opted their policy positions for his political benefit. But it seems to me that the '00's are witnessing the triangulating of the Democrats by faux liberal pundits and the media. Let's consider the evidence.

Democrats need to exorcise Michael Moore and Moveon.org from the party and talk as tough as Republicans on the "war on terror".

Lead Adherents: Peter Beinart, New Republic magazine, Al From, DLC, Joe Lieberman, U.S. Senator from Connecticut.

Implication: Democrats ought not subject the instruments and aims of war to democratic debate.

Reality: Attempts to shield America's war policies (covert and overt) from political debate risks creating the same abuses of power that ended two presidencies and has generated the blowback from five decades of not challenging American's intervention overseas.

Democrats need to offer a Social Security reform proposal of their own and agree to negotiate with President Bush.

Lead Adherents: Washington Post editorial board; Op-ed columnists Richard Cohen and Michael Kinsley.

Implication: Democrats should accept Republican arguments that Social Security is in trouble and must be phased out.

Reality: Social Security is not in crisis; the federal budget is, and its causes are the 2001-2003 tax cuts and the ending of the estate tax Republicans have pushed through with Democratic Party support.

Democrats should support bankruptcy "reform" because, um, because, well, some people are abusing the bankruptcy laws and we need to scold the poor so they develop "personal responsibility" and so that the credit card companies will be good to us and lower interest rates.

Lead Adherents: Al From, New Democrat Network, U.S. Senators from MBNA, Joe Biden and Tom Carper.

Implication: Democrats should ignore the power inbalances inherent between corporations and individuals, and accept Republicans argument that individuals, especially poor individuals, are the problem.

Reality: The bankruptcy "reform" bill was a shameless piece of legislation shopped around Congress for seven years by the credit card industry. Its passage will establish neither "personal responsibility" or lower interest rates.

Democrats should move to the "center" on abortion and other issues of interest to "values" voters.

Lead Adherents: Al From, DLC, Hilary Clinton

Implications: As with bankruptcy "reform", siren calls for Democrats to adopt conservative Republican policy positions on abortion, gays and other personal issues tempts Democrats to concede the Republicans' point that individuals are the problem and that the main duty of the state is to discipline them.

Reality: The problem with and the threat from the two worst regimes of the 20th century(Hitler's fascist Germany and Stalin's Communist Soviet Union) were not caused by their countries' individual behavior, but from their corrupt and power hungry leadership and military ambitions. Individuals are not the problem, institutions and ideologies of power and repression are.

Conclusion: Democrats need to change the debate from coercing individuals to challenging concentrated power and pockets of privilege.

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