Towards A Good Samaritan World

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Bush won in 2004 with over 60 million votes, 51% of the votes cast, the most ever cast for a president. Surely Democrats realize that to win, they must attract people who voted for Bush. So who among the Bush base are they trying to court? This blog post about the Lieberman loss suggests that it's not me:

2. In this new era, partisanship is a virtue. The conservatives rise to power, and their utter failure to govern responsibly or effectively, requires a new progressive politics of confrontation, not accommodation. This new politics may be uncomfortable to those used to an America governed by Democrats and progressive values, but for our politics and values to triumph progressives must and are learning how to resist “cutting deals,” working to “get things done” on terms set by an irresponsible governing majority...

Of course there is room for someone with Senator Lieberman’s view on the War, for example. He was after all endorsed by virtually ever major institution in the Democratic family. There is a growing, and necessary, intolerance, however, of progressive leaders unwilling to take on Bush and his failed government head on – and this was the battleground in this election, whether the Senator understood it or not.

I have great sympathy for those wishing our politics could be more genteel, where both sides could come together to work things out for the common good. But we live in a different time, and our the rising partisanship in the Democratic Party is a necessary, pragmatic and I believe virtuous response to the circumstances we face today at the dawn of the 21st century.

How can it be a smart strategy for the minority party to feel that "partisanship is a virtue?" Isn't that like saying, Republicans are the enemy? And if you're telling me I'm the enemy, doesn't that make me less likely to vote for you? Isn't it mathematically obvious that if the "Democratic wing of the Democratic party" purges what it sees as non-Democratic elements, it will get smaller, and the Republican majority, bigger?

"Bush and his failed government?" This at a time when GDP per capita is at its highest ever (admittedly, GDP per capita usually is at its highest ever, but that just goes to show that our times our normal). This after six years of a presidency that has witnessed the fastest rate of productivity growth ever. This when crime rates are near their lowest level in decades, when no terrorist attack on the US has occurred since 9/11. This at a time when wages are rising fast. This at a time when the unemployment gap between whites and blacks is narrowing. Maybe one could make a plausible case that the Iraq War is somehow uniquely disastrous. At least it's unique. But Rosenberg says that there IS room for someone with Lieberman's position on the war. So apparently that's not it. What is it?

"An irresponsible governing majority?" This from a party that wants to spend MORE, not less, that wants universal health care and who knows what else. This from a party that retreated into ostrich-like denial when Bush tried to discuss the long-term financial problems of Social Security. Okay, Bush and the Republicans have spent too much money, but is that what Rosenberg is complaining about, and if so, how does he figure that the Democrats are better.

Where do these alarmist notions come from? It would be one thing if Rosenberg offered an argument for why we're in such trouble, or if he recognized that his alarmism is idiosyncratic. But no: he states these things casually, as if everyone should know it. Every "progressive," that is; and those wicked souls who aren't progressives, they're the enemy. These people really frighten me. Please, Lieberman, run hard for that Senate seat! Save us!


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