Our Long National Nightmare is Over...and now...

Tuesday night we were all fixated to the polls. We all cried (or at least I know I did - it was John Lewis that broke my dam on that front). I even cried yesterday, and I wasn't the only one. Here in Blue Connecticut there were many tear stained faces, many relieved looks, even a pervasive, genuine happiness.

I bought the paper with Obama's picture on it and the caption, "Mr. President" at the grocery store. The young woman ringing me up said, "I'm really glad he won yesterday."

Obama's remade the electoral map. Now it is time for us to remake our ideological maps - or specifically, I would advocate, completely rip those maps into shreds and start over.

From the losing side of Tuesday's elections we hear pretty much one resounding thing from conservatives, "we weren't conservative enough". Sam Brownback reiterated the cliche that the GOP is still "the party of ideas", and I'm sure Newt is waiting somewhere to trot out his standard refrain, "we came to change Washington and Washington changed us".

Wanna completely decimate these folks? Let them remain the ideologues they've always been. It was, after all, their blind love of their ideology, their refusal to question or veer away from any part of it - even when reality gave them repeated cold slaps in the face - that created the mess we're currently in.

Ideology is dead. Long live pragmatism.

So, let the right sip tea and cocktails and discuss invisible hands and objectivism and all the rest. Give it to them. Let them grab those anchors as they fall, cartoon character-style, off the cliff of popular opinion.

We need to take up the mantle of building the framework for the new administration, and the new era of Obama (yes, I do get excited writing that phrase).

There should be two guiding principles in this new time:

Will it work?

and

Is it just?

Within this framework can fit any number of proposals coming from the left, right and center of the political spectrum. This is as pragmatic and as big tent as you can get. And, instead of "triangulating" or seeking that elusive center - which generally leads to half baked solutions and compromising just for the sake of compromise - this approach can actually fix our problems.

Fixing our problems is, after all, what the American people want to see happen.

So, brothers and sisters on the left and in the progressive movement, I'm going to ask you to do something pretty hard: drop your ideology. Trash that Overton window. Let's look at all proposals, all ideas - even those coming from the aforementioned ideologues - and send them through the test of "will it work" and "is it just". Making the right fight for their ideas on this new ground - instead of the tired, old "America is a center-right country" or the standard culture-war distractions - will, I believe, force them to discard a lot of the disasterous proposals that would only add to all of the problems on our plate.

The next two years will determine if what happened Tuesday will reverberate for a generation, or whether it will just be a political blip in time.

I'm fighting for that generational change. Who's with me?

Tags: Change, Conservatives, Ideology, liberals, objectivism, pragmatism, President Barack Obama, progressives (all tags)

Comments

11 Comments

party of ideas vs party of solutions...

...I have a feeling that will be the ground we'll be fighting on in 2010 and 2012

by grannyhelen 2008-11-06 04:36AM | 0 recs
Conservatism isn't the problem, really

We need a conservative viewpoint and a liberal viewpoint as well as a pragmatic and an idealistic viewpoint to keep things balanced.

Sadly for the Republicans, all of those voices are coming from the Democrats these days.  The Republicans have few real, vocal, leaders left.

I suspect that Obama will try to make sure that the nation is with him on his decisionmaking processes every step of the way so we start to expect transparency and coherance in our leadership.  Bad politicians get by via making everything obtuse, so that folks don't question things... nobody likes to feel stupid for not understanding something (even if it's incredibly complicated), so they stop asking questions.  Obama is a teacher by inclination, and he'll use that to make us expect more from our leaders.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-06 05:19AM | 0 recs
We do have ideas

I don't think it's ideas vs solutions. It's good ideas vs. bad ones.

I'm reading PD James The Lighthouse and when describing one of the characters early in the book, she says (paraphrasing) that the character hated the denegration of excellence by calling it elitism.

I think that's exactly what we have seen in recent times on the conservative side.

We are also a party of ideas. It would be too simplistic to say that we have better ideas -- though we do. It is that we are also concerned genuinely about fairness and justice.

by carrieboberry 2008-11-06 05:22AM | 0 recs
Re: We do have ideas

lol - thank you for the PD James quote - that was great!

The reason why I'm trying to frame the difference between the Dems and the GOP as "ideas" vs "solutions" is the connotations each has, and the times we live in. Now is not the time for ideologues, and the one thing we've heard from the right is that their solution to Tuesday is to become yet more ideological.

I think as a country we're done with all that.

Folks don't want an ideological purity test any longer - we had too much of that with Bush. Folks want innovative solutions to our problems, and I don't think most people really care whether these come from left, right or center.

And, frankly, I'd like to keep some of the conservatives like Buckley who endorsed Obama. Creating a pragmatic framework where these folks can voice their opinions without creating weak-kneed compromise just to chase the ideological "center" (when that's not really what people are looking for right now), I think will help create a consensus government that will speed along the GOP's obselecense (sp?).

Just my $0.02 ;-)

by grannyhelen 2008-11-06 06:01AM | 0 recs
Hi Granny. May I just say...

WOOHOO!!!!!

Thank you.

by Travis Stark 2008-11-06 05:56AM | 0 recs
Thanks, Travis :-) nt

by grannyhelen 2008-11-06 06:04AM | 0 recs
It Ain't Over Yet

The economic report today is once again dismal. Hundreds of thousands of more jobs will probably be lost even before Obama is sworn as president. America faces a crisis of confidence in its government, and it isn't going to be over until Obama proves that he can get things done.

The fat lady hasn't sung yet.

by Zzyzzy 2008-11-06 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: It Ain't Over Yet

...as far as how bad things might get I would agree...

...but as far as having a corrupt administration rife with cronyism that couldn't manage its way out of a paper bag, I think we can turn the page on that one ;-)

by grannyhelen 2008-11-06 07:43AM | 0 recs
I think we can

But Obama needs to come out of the box on Jan. 20th strong. Big things need to get done by next summer. He can be another Roosevelt, or he can become another Carter. That will depend how ready he will be on Jan. 20th.

The economic nightmare is actually provides a great opportunity for Obama to become a great president. It also raises the stakes for his presidency.

by Zzyzzy 2008-11-06 08:01AM | 0 recs
Did you hear Rahm accepted chief of staff?

So much for that Joe Scarborough talking point.

Regardless of one's feelings on Rahm (yes, I have my quibbles with him, too), this is the first test post-election and Obama passed it.

I have a feeling he's a process guy, and it makes me feel very confident about his ability to put forward and actually follow through on an agenda.

I agree with the stakes, though...I'm hoping we can come out of the other end of this better than we were.

by grannyhelen 2008-11-06 08:45AM | 0 recs
I hear that.
Rahm is an elbows and steel boots sorta guy.
He'll take care of getting Obama's ideas accomplished.
And the choice speaks mounds to what exactly Obama wants to accomplish -- big things, not terribly popular things.
by RisingTide 2008-11-06 10:07AM | 0 recs

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