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July 31, 2007


Interesting take on the Decider.


There is an interesting comparison to be made if one looks at UK politics. Pre 1997 there was the "Labour" (left wing socialist) and the Conservative (right wing monetarist) parties. What Blair did was to steal the Conservative policies and move his party to the centre. He was able to do this because Mrs. Thatcher (and John Major) had left the country with a robust economy and demoralised Trade Unions. Over the next few years he "stole" all the Conservative policies on Law and Order, the economy, security, etc. What is left in the UK now is 2 (3 if you count the Liberal Democrats) fighting over the centre ground. There are still a few traditional Labour and Conservative voters who will never change (similar to Bush's 28%), but the key vote is the centre.
Here in Germany we have a similar situation with a coalition of the right-wing CDU/CSU and the left-wing SPD (they are really left of centre and right of centre). We also have 3 other parties in Parliament, 2 left-wing and one right-wing, but they are more extreme than the ruling coalition. (Obviously what we call right-wing in Germany is probably slightly left of the mainsteam Democrats!).
Labels do not work, you must address the needs of the electorate and tell them what they "want" to hear. Your party structure in the US is not as comprehensive and co-ordinated as the party machines in Europe. If the Democrats are to sweep aside the Republicans, forget the 28% Bush supporters, they will never change. Go for the middle and working class votes with universal health care, free (or affordable education) and social services and you will win.
Stop labelling yourselves as "liberal", "progressive" or "looney left" and get the message across that you are for the people.

we are a dull, yet interesting lot. we look at the buildings we have built and think they will stand forever. once complete, no further work required. this is our god like view of things, we created it, it must be perfect. such confidence is not merited, but it is the mantra. we talk about everything except the things that are really happening, because we simply can't adjust ourselves to maintain the polish on that which we know will tarnish when exposed to the air. we prefer to ignore the tarnish.
is it because of hollywood? overconfidence? what is it that causes normally rational people to ignore the carnage? perhaps we will one day have post traumatic stress disorder when the country just isn't here.

why is it that our government and all of it's officious little cliques, never discuss how the country is the victim of entropy? We ignore the children that we say we are building the future for. we ignore all signs that the water is poor, the method to get the water around is ancient. we ignore the fact that the oil won't be here, and our houses heated by petro won't be warm any more. the bridges that support your movement from here to there, are in almost every case, not going to survive an earthquake, and we have earthquakes. the towns and cities in tornado alley don't stand up to tornadoes. the gulf states don't build to protect themselves from the hurricane, but they know they will have another. people continue to rebuild their homes next to the big river, even though they know that river will wash them out. what is it that causes such behavior?

since nothing we do collectively makes all that much sense, this is considered normal. the irony hits you between the eyes as you watch it approach. guess it's all about the priorities we embrace. or the absence of any logical priority. it seems much like a vacuum. it sucks, sure. but a vacuum means without air and a pressure different from the norm. what are we waiting for? the switch to be turned off?

The abortion debate is a nice microcosm of how a debate where the mainstream runs on the left is presented as split-down-the-middle in the media. The NYT has a piece yesterday about the struggles among Republicans to find a staunch anti-women's-rights candidate to head their ticket.

I've been wondering who to root for here: do I want two pro-choice nominees, say Giuliani on their side, to guarantee a pro-choice Presidency? or should I hope the Republicans will nominate another real reactionary, to alienate them even farther from the mainstream and keep women's rights a top issue in the campaign?

And is there anything that progressive bloggers can do to influence the process? Romney is already twisting himself into a pretzel (the kind you can choke on) on this issue. Would unwelcome attention from the left regarding their wishy-washy anti-choice stands push the current field even farther to the right -- and is that desirable?

JeffinBerlin, just for your info, here in America, proposing universal health care is not seen (in the dominant pundit view) as going for the middle -- it's still, as Demfromct suggests, considered beyond the pale.

But that argument doesn't fly with most of America anymore, and hasn't for some time. Even in '92, the idea that Clinton/Gore were crazy-ass liberals was floated (remember Rich Bond's "Jane Fonda will be secretary of state; there'll be dinners for Castro"?), to no avail. In '96, the GOP Senatorial campaigns were all some variation (courtesy Arthur Finkelstein) on "Disgustingly liberal/nauseatingly liberal" -- all the incumbents won their races anyway. Even in '04, "the two most liberal Senators" -- one from Massachusetts -- came within an eyelash of knocking off an incumbent president.

We're already most of the way through a political transition; voters have become accustomed to Democrats' representing their views. They barely opted to keep Bush around -- almost solely in response tO the trauma of September 11th -- but the collapse in the past 2 1/2 years has ended the truce, and the situation is now starkly similar to the last part of the Carter administration. In that case, voters had clearly undertaken a philosophic shift to the right (the Nixon landslide had made it obvious), but the fluke of Watergate made them conditionally go with the opposing party. Carter was unable to balance the conservative bent of the electorate with his still-left-leaning party; that, combined with bad situations in Iran and at gas stations, persuaded the voters it was time to line up with their developing ideological preference and put the conservative GOP fully in charge for the first time in 50 years. This time around, polls have been showing for years a voter tilt toward liberalish ideas, on health care, taxes, etc.; now, the foreign policy and domestic disasters of the Bush administration are pushing them to put those ideological convictions into voting practice.

The press' problem is, by and large, they've lived too long in one perception of reality, and they've grown fat off that perception. Just as it was inconceivable to the press in the mid-70s that the GOP could take over en masse (Time Magazine said, upon Carter's narrow election in '76, that "America's natural Democratic majority" had asserted itself), the Versailles-ists of DC can't imagine a Beltway run by a popular Democratic movement; Bill Clinton was as far left as they can imagine ever going. (And isn't it piquant, after the way they flayed Bill, to watch them heap praise on Hillary now, as the best way of fending off the prgressive possibilitties of Edwards or Obama? That, too, recalls 1980: the way the press tried to build up non-entity GHWBush as a way of fending off Reagan)

The day of reckoning is nigh: not just for the GOP, but also, as Dem says, for the pundits who have made common cause with them.

Emptypockets: There is some evidence that Rudolph Giuliani was pro-choice in NY because that's where the voters were. He has promised to appoint Alito-type judges, who are no doubtr more in tune with his real preferences. His views on gays do seem to be genuine, but I don't trust him on reproductive rights. Plus, he's crazy and VERY authoritarian. Be careful what you wish for. We learned that in California in 1966 with Reagan for Governor.

Superb post by Demtom above.

I think the labeling of positions that are held by 60% or more of the American public as "liberal" or "left" is EXCELLENT. For example, if opposition to our Iraq occupation makes someone a "dirty f***ing hippie", that will begin to inoculate millions of Americans from that propaganda.

Keep it up, Fox News.

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