Hey Pundits! Pay Attention!
by Scott Shields, Wed May 03, 2006 at 09:20:21 PM EDT
If there's one thing I hate hearing from the Beltway conventional wisdom crunchers, it's the old nugget that Democrats have no ideas. Thomas Friedman is only the latest offender, but he takes the charge to a whole new level, not only falsely insisting that Democrats have no ideas, specifically on energy policy, but even demanding that a whole new third party spring up with ideas that he can get behind.
In response, David Roberts eviscerates Friedman's absurd criticism over at the Gristmill blog, pointing out that it's not the Democrats' fault that pundits like Friedman just can't be bothered to actually pay attention.
We know what Republicans would do on energy if they had power. They have it; they're doing it.
The Democrats have no power to implement policy, and when a party with no power to implement policy announces a set of policy proposals, no one listens -- not the press, not Friedman. But that doesn't mean they don't have policy proposals.
Beltway pundits strive above all else to be unpredictable, unorthodox, "outside the box." Pointing out that the current batch of Republicans running Washington is corrupt and destructive, and that the Democrats are advancing better ideas, is "partisan." It's "shrill." Worst of all, it's inside the box. Boooring.
Nonetheless, almost all these "pox on both their houses" stories are vapid. If one party proposes to do what you want, and the other party stands in the way, the solution is not a third party. The solution is for the second party to stop standing in the way.
If I can make a suggestion to my fellow Democrats, especially since this is an election year, take it upon yourself to really study, learn, and absorb one or two Democratic policy proposals you particularly agree with, and how they'll be help the average American. As I mentioned the other day, David Sirota's new book is full of great ideas, but many others can be found at CAP, PLAN, the DGA, DMI, etc., etc., etc. Very few people really want to talk policy, but every time you're confronted with tired jokes about the lack of Democratic ideas, you'll be armed with at least one progressive policy proposal as a counter.
While this may seem like something of a waste of time, it's important to remember that in an election year as tense as 2006, it helps to have handy every bit of information that reinforces for the typical voter that Democrats are ready, willing, and able to start fixing the disastrous policy results of the Republicans. There's a small army of Thomas Friedmans out there in the traditional media who have a seeming stake in drawing false equivalences between the two parties. For whatever reason, they take great joy in pushing a politics of hopelessness. And it's up to every Democrat to help fight back.