How Partisan Must We Be?

Part of the candidate blogger series for Obama

I want to start this post by apologizing for being absent much of the last week.  I've been visiting with a new niece who came into the world in June and has made this blogger into an uncle.  For that reason, combined with a certain amount of upheaval in my living arrangements, this post will also probably be on the short side.

I want to focus on Obama's relationship to partisanship, because it remains such a hot topic and as there have been a couple of interesting diaries I wanted to address.  Last Friday, Big Tent Democrat posted a look back at Obama's diary on DailyKos back in September of 2005, now nearly two years ago.  

It reminded me of Obama's comments on October 19th, 2005, when, reflecting on his first ten months in the Senate, he raised  the question he had been asked at forums across Illinois: "What do you find most surprising about serving in the US Senate?"


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Obama answered with his surprise as to the extent that the Senate had essentially ceased to be a deliberative body.  Senators address empty chambers.  Votes are predictable.  Senators regularly demonstrate a lack of independence to vote their own conscience.

In his time in the state legislature, with six of his eight years in the minority party, Obama had the feeling that floor debate sometimes, with some regularity, actually resulted in someone changing their opinion or in a bill being modified.  In comparison, in the US Senate, he saw a lack of genuine debate about policy, a lack of openness, and the loss of the deliberative process --- these are not only a recipe for cynicism and disengagement among the broader public but a recipe for bad governance.

It's not just that the dysfunction in Washington is bad in itself, it's that it results in bad policy.

And, even more profoundly, it's not just that it fosters cynicism about politics but that it fosters cynicism about the possibilities of government, which in the end only makes the conservative case for them.

A Question of Tone

Without getting into the Roberts nomination fight or the specific context of the DailyKos discussion that Obama felt the need to respond to, I want to emphasize a few of the key points that Big Tent Dem either misunderstood or skipped over.  Obama felt defensive about what he felt were polemics against fellow Democratic senators who voted for the Roberts nomination, he was hardly criticizing the right of the netroots or the public to be critical.  In other words, he was criticizing the tenor of the comments and not the comments themselves.  The comments, he felt, went too far in vilifying people like Patrick Leahy who voted yes.

I've written previously about how Obama wants to restore an emphasis on progressive values to American politics with his talk of a new politics, and I've acknowledged that Obama wants to return a sense of civility to the process.  I believe this is not just a rhetorical but actually a substantive position.  It's a position that matters and that is worth talking about.

I think this early essay on DailyKos from Obama on American politics is an interesting document to return to.

But to the degree that we brook no dissent within the Democratic Party, and demand fealty to the one, "true" progressive vision for the country, we risk the very thoughtfulness and openness to new ideas that are required to move this country forward.  When we lash out at those who share our fundamental values because they have not met the criteria of every single item on our progressive "checklist," then we are essentially preventing them from thinking in new ways about problems.  We are tying them up in a straightjacket and forcing them into a conversation only with the converted.

Beyond that, by applying such tests, we are hamstringing our ability to build a majority.  We won't be able to transform the country with such a polarized electorate.

Obama emphasizes the importance of building the mandate for a progressive majority -- that progressive changes on foreign policy, on health care, and on judicial appointments rely on building new coalitions, approaching new constituencies, and restoring faith in government.  

More specifically, Obama emphasizes that decrying the bitterness of politics in Washington has nothing to do with compromising on progressive ideals.  It's not about the value of consensus for its own sake, or about the search for a grand compromise:

Let me be clear: I am not arguing that the Democrats should trim their sails and be more "centrist." In fact, I think the whole "centrist" versus "liberal" labels that continue to characterize the debate within the Democratic Party misses the mark.  Too often, the "centrist" label seems to mean compromise for compromise sake, whereas on issues like health care, energy, education and tackling poverty, I don't think Democrats have been bold enough. But I do think that being bold involves more than just putting more money into existing programs and will instead require us to admit that some existing programs and policies don't work very well.  And further, it will require us to innovate and experiment with whatever ideas hold promise (including market- or faith-based ideas that originate from Republicans).
In other words, Obama argues that by risking a genuine conversation about ideas, by acknowledging error, by soliciting opposing viewpoints, we appear more reasonable, and that by appearing more reasonable, we can help lessen the cynicism Americans feel about politics -- again not for its own sake, but because an energized and engaged public leads to better policy and better government.

Obama also includes an apt summation of the dilemma facing the Democratic Party (after the jump).

The bottom line is that our job is harder than the conservatives' job.  After all, it's easy to articulate a belligerent foreign policy based solely on unilateral military action, a policy that sounds tough and acts dumb; it's harder to craft a foreign policy that's tough and smart.  It's easy to dismantle government safety nets; it's harder to transform those safety nets so that they work for people and can be paid for.  It's easy to embrace a theological absolutism; it's harder to find the right balance between the legitimate role of faith in our lives and the demands of our civic religion.  

But that's our job.  And I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose.  Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate.

Progressives shouldn't sink to that level of discourse.  We shouldn't lose track of our values of fostering civic engagement, promoting the active discussion of ideas, and encouraging democracy.
Our goal should be to stick to our guns on those core values that make this country great, show a spirit of flexibility and sustained attention that can achieve those goals, and try to create the sort of serious, adult, consensus around our problems that can admit Democrats, Republicans and Independents of good will.  This is more than just a matter of "framing," although clarity of language, thought, and heart are required.  It's a matter of actually having faith in the American people's ability to hear a real and authentic debate about the issues that matter.

Lastly, Obama goes out of his way to emphasize that promoting civility and genuine discussion doesn't mean you don't fight back when attacked or that you don't engage in the back and forth of a campaign.
Finally, I am not arguing that we "unilaterally disarm" in the face of Republican attacks, or bite our tongue when this Administration screws up.  Whenever they are wrong, inept, or dishonest, we should say so clearly and repeatedly; and whenever they gear up their attack machine, we should respond quickly and forcefully. I am suggesting that the tone we take matters, and that truth, as best we know it, be the hallmark of our response.
It is a far more thoughtful response than I think Big Tent Dem gives him credit for and well worth the read.  Anyway, with that I'll sign off for the night.  Thanks for reading.

Tags: 2008, Barack Obama, Candidate Blogger (all tags)

Comments

44 Comments

Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

Welcome back . Nice diary , a lot more informative about Obama than we are used to

by lori 2007-08-22 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

Thanks, lori.  Glad you enjoyed it.

by psericks 2007-08-22 06:00PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

I too am very impressed nice job!

by wiretapp 2007-08-23 12:07AM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

Most people seem to want a partisan tough guy act.

What I want is a candidate who can talk in bipartisan coded language but whose actions are sufficiently partisan that it looks like Republicans coming to our doorstep and not the other way around.

by Anthony de Jesus 2007-08-22 05:50PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

I want a progressive as president with a tone that helps sell the progressive message to the unconverted, not a partison in tone only who cuts and runs on issues when they become unpopular.

by nevadadem 2007-08-22 05:55PM | 0 recs
Great job psericks...

alot worth thinking about...

by iamready 2007-08-22 05:53PM | 0 recs
None of this makes the case

for the unilateral disarmament that Democrats like to do first.

by andgarden 2007-08-22 05:59PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

Wonderful Post. To the point . Accurate and Simple.

Thank you.

BTW Congratulations on the new addition. Did you get her registered to vote yet? Just Kidding.

;p

by BlueDiamond 2007-08-22 06:02PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

This is an interesting entry.  The problem seems to be that our national politics is a zero sum game.  It's winner take all.  I don't know how Obama thinks he can restart force the senate to be deliberative, especially from the White House.

I wish politicians would stop saying things like "we need to have a conversation" or "genuine conversation" or whatever.  We can't have a national conversation--the 300 million of us can't sit down together. To me that's just a disingenuous euphemism that is supposed to make people feel involved in processes that they are not involved in.  It's a phrase that says "I know you don't believe me," and in that way ties in with idea that Democrats have to appeal to an essentially conservative country, a populace that is fundamentally opposed to them.  

If Obama or Clinton really want to have a conversation, let them take questions at their speeches.   Let them have Lincoln-Douglas debates.  If the candidates can't get their message across in the current style debates, they can have their own debates.

by Reece 2007-08-22 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

Just because all 300 million of us can't sit down together doesn't mean that there couldn't be substantial progress towards a more engaged electorate and greater government transparency.  

One of the most interesting sections of Obama's ethics reform package was about encouraging interaction between government agencies and the public through regular broadband townhall meetings run by cabinet officials, having a sunshine period of seven days before signing any legislation by posting it online and soliciting public comment, and by mandating that regulatory agencies like the FCC and the SEC do more of their business in public (and post video of their hearings online).

I think the internet represents an opportunity to change the way government works --- not just to create transparency and spread information but to actually create new opportunities for interaction between citizens and their government.  As he puts it in the final sentence of the section:

"Obama will also require his nominees to commit to employ all the technological tools available to allow average citizens not just to observe, but to participate and be heard on the issues that affect their daily lives."

by psericks 2007-08-22 06:29PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

"an engaged electorate and greater government transparency" is not a "conversation."

I'm with you on transparency, though.  As far as I am concerned, every document our government produces should be open for public view excepting only those that can directly threaten our national security--things like defense plans, nuclear weapon designs, etc.

In fact, I am sympathetic to pretty much all discussions of governmental reform, but most of them don't go far enough for me.  If we really want to renew our democracy, we have to start amending the constitution, especially to reign in the executive and counter the specific excesses of the current administration.

The internet may provide new opportunities, but it is still up to individuals to make use of the opportunity.

by Reece 2007-08-22 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

"To me that's just a disingenuous euphemism that is supposed to make people feel involved in processes that they are not involved in."

While I'd go much farther in terms of what candidates should do to have a real conversation with America, Reece's comment resonates for me in a different way.  I'll explain below.

"Just because all 300 million of us can't sit down together doesn't mean that there couldn't be substantial progress towards a more engaged electorate and greater government transparency."

pserick's response is also true.  Although I'd quibble with the use of the word "substantial."

All of Obama's suggestions for opening up government proceedings to interested citizens are terrific ideas, and will be helpful -- at the margins.  The operative word here is "interested" citizens.

The sad and sobering reality is that civic apathy, and the dangerous civic ignorance that flows from it, is rampant in America.  Take a look at the recent Pew study on "Public Knowledge of Current Affairs" for some unbearably bleak empirical evidence.

http://people-press.org/reports/display. php3?ReportID=319

And that's just one set of data on the subject.  There are many more.

All those concerned about the future of America, and about democracy itself, must begin to acknowledge -- and talk about, out loud, repeatedly, and for a very long time -- the fact that America is by and large a nation of citizen slackers.  

There are many reasons and contributing factors for this, but at the end of the day, each of us sets our own priorities and has to take responsibility for them.  What is unacceptable any longer (if one cares about a healthy future) is to excuse this civic laziness, and to say it's all the fault of "bad" Republicans or "good" Democrats laboring in a faulty system.  Or it's the vacuous news or entertainment media distracting and confusing us.

There's plenty of truth in all that -- but -- it is our choice as individuals to become engaged or not.  We choose not to because it takes work to be informed -- which is the predicate for being engaged -- and we just don't want to do the work.  We refuse to read serious news, to reflect, to develop reasoned views that our truly our own.

We say this is because we don't have enough time, or don't feel it's our job anyway.   Well, we better damn well make the time, because it most definitely is our job.  In fact, it is nobody else's.

Democracy = SELF Government.

This is a hard case to make on political blogs because the people reading this are not the people I'm talking about, so there's often a cognitive disconnect (and denial).  But facts are facts.  The vast major of our fellow Americans are abysmally lacking in knowledge and understanding of the critical issues at play -- including those that directly affect their own lives, and those of their children.

Meanwhile, all of America's deepest problems continue to fester and metastasize.

There's only one way out this downward spiral.

We-The-Peeps must assume the full measure of our obligations as citizens.  But we can't really do that when 42% of us don't even know the name of the sitting Vice President (of THIS Vice President!) -- let alone the essentials of competing energy policies or foreign policy strategies.

It's even worse than that.  It's not just that we don't know squat about the issues, and the policies proposed to address them -- it's that we've long forgotten fundamental precepts -- like the flipside of rights is responsibilities -- that our transcendent constitutional system only works right when there's a mutually reinforcing balance between the individual and the collective.

It's not that Americans are stupid.  They are not.  They are willfully ignorant of that which is necessary to know to be a responsible citizen -- especially in these trying times.

Until this root level dysfunction changes in a big way, no president, or party, will be able to make meaningful progress on the matrix of crises and challenges we face.

What to do?

Personally, I find patronizing leftists who feel it's their role to take care of the masses' needs for them as unconvincing and unappealing as I find the heartless rightists who just don't give a shit about the social contract.

With the internet as a potential miracle tool at our disposal, we must somehow find a way to create a space for Trans-Partisanship, and catalyze a culture-wide, multi-generational effort to inspire ourselves to take our jobs as citizens seriously -- starting with keeping ourselves fully informed on the great issues of the day.

I'm sorry to report that there will be no white knight coming to save us.  We must retire that fantasy, once and for all.

If, in a self-governing society, we truly want wiser and more effective government, then we truly need wiser and more effective citizens (not just the comparatively small percentage who might currently care about participating in a broadband town hall meeting).   This should be an obvious and pervasive sentiment, but no one will discuss it in public.

Will you?

Apologies for the length of my comment, but I find what psericks said in his original post to be very thoughtful, and felt that this thread was a good place to make my first comment on MyDD -- one of the small number of political blogs where thoughtfulness often carries the day.

For that I'm grateful, and hope to offer some food for additional thought here -- next time in the Diaries section.

by CitizenJ 2007-08-22 09:28PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

I agree with much of what you wrote.  I don't consider Obama to be a white knight.  What I do find meaningful is that Obama, for one, recognizes the problem and recognizes that our politics is not only bad in itself but results in bad policy --- and he also recognizes that cynicism about politics goes together with cynicism about the role of government in society.

But what is important is that Obama is looking for ways to make government more engaging.  There are a variety of reasons why people don't participate --  it's not only their fault, our politics hasn't given them reason to participate.  And there are policies that could create greater public trust in government (greater transparency, public financing, ethics reforms), there are policies to increase turnout (election day holiday), but Obama also feels that part of it is the tenor of our politics.  This tone turns people off.  

Certainly a great number of people will tune into Fox News for the political theatrics and pyrotechnics, but the vast majority of people don't care.  People, Obama argues, won't participate until they feel like the discussion is actually meaningful and affects their everyday lives.  As he put it a couple weeks ago, "my strong impression is that people will vote for me if they believe that I can help them live out their dreams and achieve their hopes."

I dunno, maybe that sounds sappy.  But I feel like something is right about that.

I look forward to reading your posts.

by psericks 2007-08-23 01:58AM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

Good analysis and thanks for the interesting link.

Obama is certainly no white knight but he has grasped this problem and based on early signs he is starting to inspire many people disillusioned with politics to get involved again.

But the kind of change you are talking about is really a long term struggle with complex dimensions (one example: inequality of access to information).  At least there is one presidential candidate that seems to have a sincere concern and perceptive view of this issue.  Maybe this is a small step in the right direction.

You might find the following link interesting:   "How can we engage more people in the democratic process?"

by Satya 2007-08-23 10:34AM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

Obama wants to appeal to everybody and unfortunately he is not appealing to most people.  

by changehorses08 2007-08-22 10:54PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

I find Obama's 2005 comments about the US Senate to be naive.

I guarantee that there is much more "debate" and "horsetrading" over bills in the US Senate than he ever saw in the floor debates in the state house. The difference is that the substantive give and take on legislation takes place at the staff level or in discussions before the floor speeches ever take place. To me, his comments sound like someone ten months removed from a statehouse who hasn't quite figured out the institution of the US Senate.

The remarks also sound like someone who didn't completely understand the ramifications of a Republican controlled White House, a Republican controlled Senate, and a Republican controlled House and who still had the notion that the Republicans would work with him if...gosh darn it...everyone could just get along.

by hwc 2007-08-22 06:27PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

HWC -- What I don't get is Obama is a Democrat running in Democratic primaries.  He knows Democrats are furious with this administration and yet he continues to try to appeal to Republicans.

by changehorses08 2007-08-22 10:56PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

I actually find your take on the Senate painfully ignorant and your characterization of Obama woefully inaccurate.

Indeed, not only does Obama understand the problems with the Senate, he seems to understand them with a much stronger grasp than you do, seeing as how the problems are far deeper than "OMG REPUBLICANS R EVIL!!"

About halfway through the hour-long meeting, a middle-aged man stands up and says what seems to be on everyone's mind, with appropriate passion: "Congress hasn't done a damn thing this year. I'm tired of the politicians blaming each other. We should throw them all out and start over!"

"Including me?" the Senator asks.

A chorus of n-o-o-o-s. "Not you," the man says. "You're brand new." Obama wanders into a casual disquisition about the sluggish nature of democracy. The answer is not even remotely a standard, pretaped political response. He moves through some fairly arcane turf, talking about how political gerrymandering has led to a generation of politicians who come from safe districts where they don't have to consider the other side of the debate, which has made compromise--and therefore legislative progress--more difficult. "That's why I favored Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal last year, a nonpartisan commission to draw the congressional-district maps in California. Too bad it lost."

Time Magazine

If you want to know what's wrong with our democracy, its not Republican control of Congress or lobbyist money or a lazy media (though those are all problems), its that no matter how dismally the Congress as a whole performs, Senators and Reps alike regularly enjoy re-election rates in excess of 90-95%.  The culprits?  Gerrymandering, backwards campaign finance laws, inadequate primary processes.

One candidate stands above the rest on these issues in terms of legislative record.  Guess who it is?

On this issue, Obama leads the pack... He helped pass a far-reaching ethics and campaign finance bill in the Illinois state Senate and made the issue a priority on arriving in Washington. Much to the displeasure of his colleagues, Obama promoted an outside commission to handle Senate ethics complaints. He co-authored the lobbying reform bill awaiting President Bush's signature and pushed -- again to the dismay of some colleagues -- to include a provision requiring lawmakers to report the names of their lobbyist-bundlers.

<b?He has co-sponsored bills to overhaul the presidential public financing system and public financing of Senate campaigns.</b> It's nice to hear Clinton talk about how "we've got to move toward public financing" -- Edwards backs it, too -- but I don't see her name on those measures.

Obama readily agreed to identify his bundlers. Unlike Clinton and Edwards, he has released his income tax returns. Perhaps most important, Obama has pledged to take public financing for the general election if he is the Democratic nominee and his Republican opponent will do the same.

Any Democratic candidate wanting to "get the money out of American politics" (Clinton) or demonstrate that "the Democratic Party is the party of the people" (Edwards) ought to leap at this chance. The candidates' silence on Obama's public financing proposal -- they'll "consider" it -- has been more telling than anything they have actually said.

So, who actually "gets" it here?  It seems to me that you're the one woefully naive about the problems in Washington by creating villains and then blaming all the problems on them, rather than recognizing that the system enables those villains and, as such, we ought to expect replacing them will only generate for us new villains.

Our top priority ought to be fixing the system so that it will not sustain corruption.  You do that, and the problem of corrupt politicians takes care of itself.  Obama gets that.  Do you?

by mopper8 2007-08-23 06:35AM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

"More specifically, Obama emphasizes that decrying the bitterness of politics in Washington has nothing to do with compromising on progressive ideals.  "

Great point, excellent diary.  Obama is absolutely right on this one: being progressive means moving beyond the status quo, and that necessarily means questioning ourselves and each other, listening to our opponents and our mavericks alike.  

Furthermore, the core value of liberalism is a faith that all men are essentially good and will act in the best interests of themselves and the community if given the resources they need.  Therefore, hope is a progressive value.  Therefore, a basic respect for human dignity is a progressive value.  For these reasons, progressives cannot afford to simply silence and slander their enemies.  When they do that, they shut themselves off from potential avenues for progress, and isolate themselves from the core values that supposedly guide them.

by Ryan Anderson 2007-08-22 06:27PM | 0 recs
Thank you

One the most succinct and accurate summaries I've seen of "new kind of politics."

by horizonr 2007-08-22 09:31PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

Sorry, I'll be trolled for this, but, you lost me at, "In his time in the state legislature....".

Um, this is Obama's central problem.  I, as well as many many others, am simply not interested in anyone's experience as a state legislator in any way, shape, or form.  

He'd get better traction talking about his non-political life experience.  Hell, I find his time spent in Hawaii more compelling than him talking about some state senator position.  This is the PRESIDENCY we're talking about...THE PRESIDENCY.

by jgarcia 2007-08-22 06:34PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

jgarcia -- you are right on target once again.  

by changehorses08 2007-08-22 11:00PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

I, as well as many many others, am simply not interested in anyone's experience as a state legislator in any way, shape, or form.

Amen. A candidate talking about his experience in the statehouse has no business running for President of the United States.

Of course, this is a candidate who thinks so much of himself that he published his second biography before the age of 45.

His comments about the US Senate sound like somebody who spent more time on his book tour than knuckling down like a good rookie and learning how the Senate actually works.

by hwc 2007-08-22 06:45PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

The Audacity of Hope is not a biography.

Your ignorance is showing.

by AdamSmithsHand 2007-08-22 08:35PM | 0 recs
Maybe if you READ the books,

you would know that The Audcity of Hope is not a biography, please refrain from making ignorant statements, that you can not back up.  sigh...

by iamready 2007-08-22 08:57PM | 0 recs
Short-sighted

A candidate talking about his experience in the statehouse has
no business running for President of the United States.

This is where you learn how to govern -- in the trenches.

And, as Richard Wolffe noted recently in Newsweek:

Clinton's aides point to her extensive travel to more than 80 countries
as First Lady and her 1995 speech at a U.N. conference on women
in Beijing...But these sanitized, ceremonial trips abroad are hardly
preparation for the middle-of-the-night call from the Situation Room.

By the time Election Day rolls around, Obama will have clocked 11 years as a
legislator. Clinton will have less than 8. And what did she do with the measly
four extra Senate years she has on Obama besides co-sponsor a flag-burning bill,
suck up to Bush's war, and cozy up to generals?

by horizonr 2007-08-22 10:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Short-sighted

Being in the state house -- those were the tough years.  

by changehorses08 2007-08-22 11:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Short-sighted

The Illinois state senate is no picnic.  

Illinois is bicameral.  How much do you really know about Illinois politics?

by Satya 2007-08-23 09:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Short-sighted

I spent most of my life in Illinois.  One does not going from State Govt to the Presidency.  

by changehorses08 2007-08-24 09:06PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

hwc - I like the fact that Obama changed characters in his autobiography to make it more interesting.

by changehorses08 2007-08-22 11:01PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

hwc - I like the fact that Obama added characters in his autobiography to make it more interesting.

by changehorses08 2007-08-22 11:02PM | 0 recs
Good Points, Fine and Dandy


But, When the other side has been beating you down , seemingly for the purpose, as just that, then you wonder.  Obama talks about a new way.  Great, if he can find it and move it.  But doesn't that sound like Clinton 16 years ago?

The Repugs talk about flexing the nuclear option...and we cannot even do in the Senate what Americans clearly wish to do?  Let's not kid ourselves Obama.  The Democratic Middle Class has been getting hammered directly in the skull for 8 years.  Prior to this the Democratic Middle class was getting sold own the river by a rubber hammer, it is called the new way pro-business democrat.

The NETROOTS is a response to this.  The gains in the mid-terms last election, were fostered by the netroots, but also by dis-illuionment in traditionally Red states.

It goes back to this.  How much degradation can the American people take?  In our economy, in particular, but also, in almost every parameter of quality of life.

I have been extremely harsh on a Hillary campaign, but don't get me wrong...if she wins, I will vote for her like i did Bill twice.  But as I see it, there is no more wishy-washy- approach to the USAs current problems that make any sense at all, when we consider the scope and breadth of our deterioration.  These are tough times.  We are begging for leaders to stand up!

For Christs' sake, what quality do you see right now in the Repug party.  It is despicable.  The reason it is SOOO bad, is partly because of this flip flopping Clintonesque mirage.

I am so glad that Reid is not threatening the nuclear veto option...as our previous health care magnate Bill Phister was trying to do.

We should embrace a spirit of cooperativity, should we be victorious, even if you know it will never be returned, if the shoe were on the other foot.  But if you do not stand on principle for years, even when you are victorius, you may find yourself castrated.

And this is the problem of our times, and in particular our Democratic party.

About the only thing Clinton did good for the economy that he can take credit for is the...Earned income tax credit for family values.  It was a great example of triangulation.

Alot of the problem is that we need to hear politicians speak and ACT upon what we believe is true!  Our electorate is so fuckin stupid because we have let the wolves eat everything except our heart.

We can win on  principle now.  And we do not need to hear all good news.

Peace Yo  

by msnstd 2007-08-22 07:25PM | 0 recs
New Way E.I Tax Credit

From a Bush recession...a Clinton OK, and then great, to another Bush middle class recessionand BIG BUBBLE; I have this to say.

Are you lsitening Mr. Bernake?

The earned income tax credit was not only the best example of family values in the Triangulation scheme...but, not only did Clinton benefit from the IT revolaution...

Back tot he E.I.T.C.:  When the poor are too poor, it fosters division.  WHen the poor get a raise, it makes people happy.  And this wealth moves upstream to the middle class.  Bush 1 tested the waters of a demoralized lower class.  Thru triangulation Clinton made them happy again, and with the IT bubble...it was LET THE GOOD TIME ROLL.

Then we Bush II.  After8-12 years with no raise...coupled with a both Bushes have an oil price record low, that ishigher than Clintons record oil high...means Jack is not A FUCKIN HAPPY CAMPER anymore.

There is then on ly bubble economies to float on...and purposeful dollar devaluations that make America poor.

No invetsment in future prosperity.  Future leaders dying in a futile and pathetic war.

The economy will collapse unless we get a raise in the minimum wage...I know we got it...but with inflationary pressures of energy, health care, and war, we are still back in the 1930-40s.

by msnstd 2007-08-22 07:42PM | 0 recs
Great Post

Very well thought out, and convincing.

... But I'm not quite convinced.

When Obama says "The bottom line is that our job is harder than the conservatives' job" when pushing our policies, I think the same can be applied to the task he has taken upon himself.

He's one man (granted, with a lot of supporters) trying to change the nature of political debate in this country? I admire his goals and have no doubt that he's sincere, but I'm not sure if he can do it. It's still too easy for people to get in the partisan soundbite on CNN, and the media doesn't want to cover a real, honest debate.

The best case scenario is that President Obama will bring in a new era of American politics, a full Senate chamber will discuss issues, and people like Ann Coulter will find themselves without an audience. The last part alone would make it worth it.

The worst case scenario is that he'd find himself handicapped by a media that makes money off of partisan bickering and doesn't want to change, while getting hit repeatedly by cheap Republican attacks which drown out his message of hope.

The political culture that Obama seeks to end isn't just the fault of the politicians. It's the fault of those that report the news, their corporate overlords, and an American public that has become disinterested in lengthy debate, and instead looks for the 45-second story.

If Obama can cut through all of that, then he'll change the country, and he'll have my vote.

by Fitzy 2007-08-22 08:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Great Post

He can't do it alone.  We need to back him up.

by AdamSmithsHand 2007-08-22 08:38PM | 0 recs
Oh, congratulations on your

new family addition, psericks.

Yes, Obama is a very well, thoughtful man.  And he it something very important, you don't see people piling in listenting to the senate and senators on the floor.  It has become so, cold, unfeeling, business as usual.  We, the people, really need to come back to this institution.  But, again, great piece.  Something to chew on.

by iamready 2007-08-22 08:56PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

Thank you for an insightful post on Obama. I look forward to the Obama posts on Wednesdays.  Congratulations on the new addition. Don't forget to buy your niece a baby Obama tee.

by hanna 2007-08-22 09:10PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

That's such a great idea!  I hadn't thought of that!  = )

by psericks 2007-08-23 01:42AM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

So we should all have a civil conversation except his wife who can attack Hillary at will -- nice

by changehorses08 2007-08-22 10:53PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

It's pretty pathetic when folks at MyDD are so quick to give credence to anything Drudge has to say.

by Sam I Am 2007-08-23 04:25AM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

The article about this originally appeared in the Chicago Sun Times.  It seems that Mrs. Obama also said that Family Values had been lacking for a long time in The White House and she and Barak were going to bring them back.

by changehorses08 2007-08-25 10:43PM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

rg--Thank you for saying that I thought nobody noticed that but me...

by changehorses08 2007-08-22 11:04PM | 0 recs
Question

Is there anything in Hillary's senate career that would indicate she will fight Republicans aggressively as president?

by Will Graham 2007-08-23 04:11AM | 0 recs
Re: How Partisan Must We Be?

Outstanding work psericks.  The Obama material that resonates most for me is:

And I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose.  Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose.  A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate.

I also believe that this country can't effectively tackle complex issues without some receptivity to new ideas.  It most certainly cannot if the dialog constantly degenerates into polarized posturing with lack of regard for the complex nuances of real life.  And cultivating that receptivity is the path that can only come from a "big tent" approach.  

by Satya 2007-08-23 11:02AM | 0 recs

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