Democrats & Liberals Archives

Corrective Measures

One reason that Bush’s political influence may be anemic at this point may be all the blood he’s lost fighting to get his favorite choices into appointments and roles as advisors. I have never seen a president so belligerently insistent on getting his way on these things. He pushed Bolton, tried to push Harriet Miers, and got into a bloody fit over not getting five of his favorite appointments through a filibuster. Worse yet, is the culture he seems hellbent on reinforcing, a culture that has worked against both his and our interests.

The nomination of General Hayden to head the CIA is one of those gestures that demonstrates the degree to which Bush is dense to the public and political appreciation of his choices. He want's to be "the decider" on these issues, and doesn't like to take no for an answer. He wouldn't be the first Commander-In-Chief to want things done his way, but his willfulness extends far beyond theirs in terms of the contempt he seems to have for the consensus of his fellow Americans.

Sure you don't want a president who bends to the breeze of the current poll rather than exercise good judgment. But you also want a president there who realizes where the real source of his power lies, and whose interests he is supposed to serve.

Bush, though, wants to remake America in his image, so any such compromise would be a fatal compromise on principles. He wants to give more power to corporations, extend the power of the executive, expand the powers and penetration of government surveillance of the average citizen, and free his branch from having to closely follow the law of the land. He's not satisfied with appointing judges according to his wishes, he wants to in fact replace their judgment with his judgment. If there are different opinions on matter, he doesn't want to listen to them. If he wants to give that opinion, he does much to restrict the access, the level of discussion, and the level of spontaneity and engagement on the part of the participants. A large number of accounts have surfaced of scripted meetings. His press conferences are also restricted, and are rare to boot. Add to that the fact that taxpayer funded political functions are often swept clean of people from my side of the aisle, and you have a president who has done everything in his power to avoid confrontation with those who do not believe as he does.

The Bubble is more than some disconnect from the media. it is an implicit result of policies and preferences in this administration that are keyed to encourage cloistered thought and limited discussion.

This is one part of why Bush's nomination of the General is objectionable. This man sat by while potentially illegal surveillance was authorized by the president. He oversaw what looks to be a database of virtually every phone record in America. Who knows what else we have not been told about, in terms of the abuses he's let go?

America, in recent months, has become convinced that this president is not taking us on the right track. the majority are not satisfied with the job he's doing. Americans, by a double digit margin, prefer to see his party lose the majority. In short, America does not support this administration's policies.

This is important to consider in the context of the necessity of congressional and senatorial advice and consent on Bush's appointees. The Republicans and Democrats, if they want to keep their jobs, are under pressure to prevent the next Bush screw-up, especially in terms of who he hires to run things. Nobody wants to pass the next Michael Brown or put another Porter Goss in the old one's place.

I think Americans want government and policies that are aligned with their interests. They don't want the next CIA chief wasting resources engaging in a political witchhunt within the headquarters at Langley. They definitely don't want the kind of political groupthink developing in the agency that could cause us to miss 9/11 and fail to miss the War in Iraq.

The consensus is obviously for the surveillance of suspected terrorists. The dispute is whether to be cavalier with our constitutional rights in order to find them. The consensus is obviously for taking the fight to our enemies when they raise their hands against us. The dispute is whether the enemy we faced in Iraq was the correct one to take on, especially if others were more dangerous, in a better position to threaten us. The consensus is obviously for winning the wars we get into. The dispute is essentially about whether Bush's policies will actually do that, a question we mainly ask in the light of the unpromising history of our military action there.

The real question Americans are asking is whose goals Bush's policies and politics serve.

It's within the power of all sufficiently sophisticated systems of management in human society to redefine success to standards that apply more internally than externally. Sometimes this is necessary, a part of specializing labor and roles for individual agents in the system. But that's only good so long as the general response from the organization brings external success. Politics is natural to our system, and we don't mind at as long as it doesn't get in the way of things getting done. When policy deviates from that, though, when our governments apply standards and sensibilities that only make sense in the office, then we're in trouble.

The ultimate trouble here is that President Bush's administration has consistently defined success according to its own internal sensibilities rather than according to real-world results. It's enough that they win some political battle in Washington, or shift consensus in the media, it seems. When the Republicans swept into power in the mid-nineties, they claimed that they were immune to the draw of Washington, it's insularity and distance from local concerns. Obviously, their resistance wasn't so great as claimed.

Power itself can be an organizing principle, and people can be loath to do it a disservice. Our Democracy was founded on getting in the way of this, forcing government to pay closer attention to what it was doing and why it was doing it. The Founding fathers weren't counting on the supposed immunity of the country folk to the seductive lure of government. They were counting on the voters being capable of slapping them upside the head if they got any bright ideas. They're counting on us to work in our best interests.

That means pressure on the legislators to peel themselves off the front step and start being representatives of their constituent's interests, if they're keen on keeping their jobs. We do not have three branches for all to be doormats of one, much less to have all power invested in the hands of one man.

Let's remember that over two centuries ago, one man decided that he would not be King, and that he would not cooperate in making this country a Kingdom. They decided they would take a radical new direction, creating a government that was meant to be limited in its power.

One of the underlying notions behind allowing people to be this free, this liberated from the mandate of authority, was that people were rational enough creatures to be trusted with their own destinies, and that losses in liberty would not necessarily be compensated with proportional gains in security.

We can go around the world and see that even the hardcore security states like Israel and Saudi Arabia are vulnerable to terrorism. London has its own internal security apparatus (MI5) and much less restraint on its police and secret services. Yet they were recent targets of al-Qaeda. Continental Europe is no better off, and its paranoid approach to immigrants has not protected them or kept out the terrorists. In fact, it has created new sources of radicalism. America's security, for the most part, has been served by a loyal citizenry. Our government's ability to push people too far has been generally low. We don't ban parties, we don't ban religions. We're not free of racism or ethnic strife, but it's not so openly practiced or encouraged as it is overseas. English, while the common language of communication amongst our population, is not our official language. We have no official or established religion. We manage to prevent utter chaos in this nation with police forces that can't beat confessions out of suspects, that can't hold them incommunicado, that can't require people to give self-incriminating testimony. The government has to prove people guilty rather than people prove themselves innocent. Our constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, and requires warrants for searches and seizures.

What gives? Why wouldn't the founding fathers give the government all the power it wanted? Wouldn't that be the solution to the problems of security and the preservation of law and order?

The founding fathers didn't think that way. First and foremost, they did not think of their leaders as all knowing. They started a war against their former leader precisely because they determined his rule was insufficient. When given the chance to form their first government with the Articles of Confederation, they went radically in the other direction. They went back to the constitution because they found that some centralization and federalism was needed. In a country our size, even then, one could not get away with a decentralized government. They settled on something in between, and a bit lateral to the parliamentary system. They created three equal branches, each with the power to check the other. Differences of opinion could be expressed and forcefully at times. Though this is frustrating to the partisans and the powerful, it is the way of our nation.

Altogether, the freedoms and the checks and balances act as a corrective on extremist policy and politics in both society and government. Fewer people are put into pinches where their ethnicity, their religion, or their politics makes them the target of hostile government policies. As such, fewer people have motivation to wrest power from those unfriendly hands, to take down the opposition by violent methods. You don't necessarily get all you want, or find policies always in your favor, but you have at least the chance to get your points of view out and come together with those who agree.

Nowadays, controversy rages over racial profiling. The police practice of stopping young black men when they're in nice cars offers us a moderate example of the kind of resentment that arbitrary government action provokes. When you've done nothing wrong, you expect to be left to yourself. It is humiliating to be a suspect for nothing else than the color of your skin.

It's the operative question: Why respect the law if it doesn't respect you? The constitution forces something of a truce there, a enforced respect for people's lives and freedoms. That goes a long way to maintaining America both as a functioning nation and a free country. This isn't a luxury of our government, to be set aside in a time of war. It's a necessity of its proper functioning. The government, in such times, will ask us to fight and die. Why should we? What good does it serve us?

The answer to that quesiton is crucial, and Bush knew this going into his campaign against terror. His response, though, was dysfunctional. The system is supposed to encourage leaders to take into consideration the sentiments of the people, not to exploit them with lies and doctored reports, but to impose the inhibition on the government of pushing a war they could not persuasively sell the people or their representatives on.

Again, this is no luxury during wartime. You are asking people to support a war, and that support will be crucial to its outcome. If you start with half-truths, if you start with an ad hoc collection of unvetted intelligence, you are off to a bad start. This only gets worse if you fail to plan well. Add incompetence to dishonesty, and you've given people twice the reasons not to follow your lead.

The Founding Fathers had an insight into the way government really works, as opposed to the way government seems to work, to those in power. They recognized that government emerges from society. Rule imposed from above is nothing if it does not have people's consent (uncoerced or coerced) behind it. They also recognized the imperfection of human beings, and the imperfect relationship between people and their government. Armed with their insights, they founded a dynamic, free society whose expansive liberty goes beyond even what they imagined.

We all fear for its future from time to time. The system takes advantage of that, and allows us to make our fears known and compel the solution, if possible, of the problems that worry us. Some though, fear for that future without considering the context of this marvellous system. They forget the kind of system they're working within, and the reasons why it's built that way. They've forgotten why they are made so vulnerable to all the criticisms and second guess, why they aren't simply given free rein to do as they please.

They've forgotten that this system was meant to correct the tendencies of its leaders as much as express their agendas and channell their political power. This system wasn't meant to flow from one person, or one set of people, it was mean to emerge from the interaction of its different parts, much like the market emerges from the unimaginably complex collection of economic decisions people make. The system was also meant to work on a basis of rational thought, evidence, people's real world experience. That's what makes it crucial that our system be a Democracy- so that the real world feeds back into decisions, rather than have the decisions spiral off into the current officeholder's fantasy land.

Ultimately, Bush's problem is that this government was designed to frustrate people like him, people who seek more and more power without earning it, people who don't use their power in a manner that satisfies the citizens of the country, people who dislike having their power held in check or balanced by another's. It is only because of the accidents of history that Bush has had enough power to do so much damage to the system.

It is only now that we can see what an object lesson Bush's presidency has become in why we have the system we have. It's time to make the system work for us, and work against this irresponsible president. We need to restore the balance to this country's government, and restore the mandate of the people to its policy and politics.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at May 12, 2006 6:00 PM
Comments
Comment #147759

Whew! You’ve got some excellent ideas here, Stephen: for about four or five articles! For instance:

“The ultimate trouble here is that President Bush’s administration has consistently defined success according to its own internal sensibilities rather than according to real-world results. “

This thought alone would make an excellent post—I’d very much like to hear you expand on this idea.

Brevity is the soul of wit—it’s also helpful in presenting an idea. Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you just told them.

I don’t want to be harsh—I always sit up and pay attention when you have something to say. I just think this needs to be broken down a little.

Respectfully
Tim

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 12, 2006 7:36 PM
Comment #147766

Our government as is consists of nothing less than organized crime and a corrupt syndicate that will stop at nothing to remain in power.

Posted by: Sonny! at May 12, 2006 7:59 PM
Comment #147794

The problem with Bush is that he is the Paris Hilton of politics. His “youthful” indiscretions lasted through to his 40’s. He was too busy on the party circuit to be a serious thinker. He is a lap dog to his consultants, who’s agenda is a mix of money and idealism that they believe is the “real” America that they lost in the 30’s.

Iran has it’s Ayatollah, we have our NeoCon’s.

Gary Trudeau, a classmate of Bush, summed it up for me when he described Bush as Fun, popular, arrogant, and mean. He’s a spoiled brat who, frankly, doesn’t care what you little people think. His big business party buddies like him, and he listens when they bark.

Posted by: gergle at May 12, 2006 9:48 PM
Comment #147796

Stephen

Posts like this are why I think you are the best writer on this blog.(Not withstanding me,that is)

Seriously,you are enormously talented and insightful….just wish I can you to move a little to the right though!

Again,a tour de force piece. Bravo.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at May 12, 2006 10:04 PM
Comment #147810

WOW


Posted by: Ted at May 12, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #147852

There was a much more angry version of this that I started where I got real nasty, but it occured to me that it wasn’t going to help anything to take things from that angle.

This article’s structure is a little tangled and uncompressed for the main reason that this is sort of an uber-theme for many of my other posts. I tried to keep the digressions to a minimum, but this is a complex topic, so I had to cover a lot of ground to paint a fuller picture of the implications of this one man’s attitudes and the nation he’s managed to get royally pissed at him.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 13, 2006 6:53 AM
Comment #147872

I didn’t have the time yesterday to read this article. I just took the time to do so, and I have no real criticisms to offer at all. While it does cover a lot of territory, it is ultimately cohesive in it’s message. I agree that it is a bit tangled, yet, to me that seems fitting when one considers the various tangles this disastrous administration has woven for America — which we are sure to suffer for in the years to come.
The final two paragraphs I consider nothing but the plain and inescapable truth. Well said.

Stephen, you wrote that you had written a nastier version of this article — no doubt that would have been much closer to my own sentiments. For this reason, I’d actually enjoy reading a passionately angry post written by you. But then, you are known for your calm and level-headed manner (I don’t know quite how you manange that so frequently), so your instinct to do the same with this piece will probably invite far more of the righties here to engage themselves with the points you’ve raised.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 13, 2006 11:16 AM
Comment #147889

“…you are known for your calm and level-headed manner (I don’t know quite how you manange that so frequently), so your instinct to do the same with this piece will probably invite far more of the righties here to engage themselves with the points you’ve raised.”

An excellent observation by Adrienne. That calm and level-headed approach is something I’m trying to learn myself.

I’ve become a skimmer in my readings here, and often I’m guilty of scrolling to the end to see who is writing in order to ascertain if I really want to read it…an unfair thing to do.

Perhaps the complexity of this article isn’t my cup of tea—but as I said before, there is plenty here to raise discussions.

Make no mistake, though—Stephen is one of the main reasons why I come to this site.

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 13, 2006 12:20 PM
Comment #147988

Adrienne-
I think you hit upon precisely the reason why I go about things the way I do.

The real question here is why folks feel the way they do about Bush and the current crop of Republican politicians. I’ve got my reasons for going against Bush, and others have their own for supporting them. All too many, left and right, try to spread their opinions by insulting, browbeating, and berating their opponents. But who does such name-calling convince?

I don’t really surpress my dislike for any government official, party, or group when I don’t care for them. You’ll hear about it. But when I’m taking them apart, I will lay out an alternate perspective that binds together and explains the direction in which I take my more specific opinions.

Some might consider that a rather dispassionate means of doing things, but for me, that is passion focused to a hard edge, sharp and cold. I’m not f***ing around here, it says. I’m not taking up this opinion because I’m too wimpy to take up your beliefs, or the beliefs of that other guy you’re listening to, I’m taking them up because I strongly believe that they represent the truth, and this is how I come to believe that.

I keep the message and the prose level-headed because provocative languaged directed at the rank and file neither reflects my opinions nor serves my purposes. Look at Eric’s posts. He seems surprised he gets such a reaction, that more people don’t look at things his way. I wouldn’t be. First, I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is consensus. Second, I know that if I insult the very people I’m trying to persuade to join me, I’ve thrown the stumbling block before my own feet.

I’m not content to be a Democrat Cheerleader, either. I’ve seen enough of the way both parties work to know that my own party needs the occasional kick in the ass as well. I would rather be the one to do it, than have our rivals do it first. Though the system is set up to correct wayward parties by the actions of their adversaries, I feel it’s much better if we take care of our problems pre-emptively, and take the ammunition out of our rival’s hands. This is the principle I would say our friends in the White House haven’t really grasped.

Instead, they try to bury things, or close the barn door after the cows have gotten out. The best way to avoid bad press is to avoid unnecessary and/or avoidable mistakes. I don’t want the future Democrat majority or White House residents to repeat those mistakes.

The key here is that principles matter to people more than politics. Folks would rather believe something in their hearts than just repeat the same old drivel.

I’m trying to make sure in some small part that people believe becoming more like the Liberals and the Democrats is an inspired choice.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 13, 2006 8:09 PM
Comment #148048

I try to remain level headed…but it’s hard. I’m seeing Nixon all over again. I’m seeing Viet Nam all over again.

Posted by: Scott Burgoyne at May 14, 2006 6:40 AM
Comment #148094

Stephen.although I applaud your attempt I must conclude its effect is limited. Their are two types of right wingers. The first are the economic elite,born to wealth and power ,who assume on some level at least that they are superior to working people, although many of them actually believe they worked hard for what they have.Yea right. Another hard day of counting money. Most would rather chew off a foot than put in a real days work. They have no ethics.They assume they were placed in their position by devine providence. These are few but control the propaganda apparatus,the strings. The other,far more numerious, are the rightist whose world view is shaped by fear. Fear of a forign enemy, fear of their own latient homsexuality,racial fear etc. They are also fearful of complicated concepts as many are not very cerebral. Some even suspect that professional wrestling is real. It is from this cadre the right has nutured the brownshirts that storm election recount efforts and volunteer to patrol bordors. Reasoned argument is useless with such as these.They must be defeated and marginalized.I fear you have overestimated your target audience.

Posted by: BillS at May 14, 2006 1:37 PM
Comment #148095

Scott-
One of the major similarities between those who pushed the Iraq war and those who did Vietnam, is a sense among its supporters that they knew what to do and that the alternatives and their supporters would take things on a path that would lead us to destruction. Folks in those group think they’ve got to save the world.

Similarly, Nixon and others like him believed that they had to have political supremacy, because the alternative was letting forks win whose choices would destroy America in their views. They believed they had to save America, and shutting the liberals out of the system was the way to do it.

They fail to recognize the truth: that if their behavior gets bad enough, they will end up being punished by the electorate. They should learn their lesson this time about corruption and abuse of power, instead of learning the lesson of not getting caught.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 14, 2006 1:48 PM
Comment #148100

BillS-
The danger here is underestimating your target audience. Those who seek to be persuasive must believe it is possible to change people’s minds. Otherwise your persuasive efforts will mainly be aimed at those already in the choir, as they are the ones you’re not underestimating.

Truth is, we can label the Republicans, and believe that their principle and ours don’t have common ground, or we can recognize that despite certain differences, some profound, we share many of the same needs and desires.

I know because I once considered myself a Republican. I went to school at a rather conservative university, though being a liberal at that point, because I was comfortable with the place not being a party-college.

I’m not uncomfortable standing shoulder to shoulder with the moderates on the right. I think part of convincing those people to ally with us is persuading them that maybe our policies are the more tradition-minded, morally founded principles.

The trick is not getting trapped in our own ideas of other people to the point where we mistake those ideas for the people themselves. Folks can be different than we suppose them to be, and if we don’t make the effort to connect to them, we will find it difficult to create consensus outsid our own political shells.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 14, 2006 2:00 PM
Comment #148109

“The trick is not getting trapped in our own ideas of other people to the point where we mistake those ideas for the people themselves. Folks can be different than we suppose them to be, and if we don’t make the effort to connect to them, we will find it difficult to create consensus outside our own political shells.”

Stephen, as much as I enjoyed your thoughtful, measured article, I like the quoted paragraph above even more. We hear so much about “what the other side thinks and believes”. This occurs on both sides of the political divide.
Now, it seems, we are seeing a begrudging agreement from the right that this president and his administration are not good for the U.S. They held on to their support for Bush, et. al., as long as they could, wanting time to prove them correct in their support for the admin’s policies.
Now that time has not been so generous, more and more on both sides are coming to the common ground that makes us all Americans. It seems that the common ground is that the security of the individual is the same as the security of the nation. It’s what has made us strong and will continue to do so. It’s what makes people from all over the world want to come here and live. We’re all willing to fight for that security, against all foes, both internal and external.
I may be an optimist, but I think we are seeing the end of this latest threat to our security from within, much as what occurred at the end of the McCarthy era. Bush may end up being a uniter, after all.

Posted by: Cole at May 14, 2006 3:31 PM
Comment #148223

Now that time has not been so generous, more and more on both sides are coming to the common ground that makes us all Americans. It seems that the common ground is that the security of the individual is the same as the security of the nation. It’s what has made us strong and will continue to do so. It’s what makes people from all over the world want to come here and live. We’re all willing to fight for that security, against all foes, both internal and external.

Cole,

Interesting point. The president, oft known these days as the Divider, is becoming the common enemy to unite America. I had a discussion with a professor here originally from Gaza. He said there that life was about ignoring politics - if you got involved, things became dangerous, so you just lived and hopefully adjusted to what your government did. He said it wasn’t a happy existence, but one did get by.

He said that the American dream - entreprenuerialism, freedom, etc. - that’s real to alot of foreigners. But having lived in the U.S. for some time now, he’s seeing that with the changes (or rather, realizations) by the government, America is losing its status as a place to want to go to.

He also said that, by adding these restrictions to our personal liberties and making threats to sovereign nations, it shows that we are, indeed, losing to the terrorists. These tactics are lessening America’s respect in the world and generating fear and uncertainty in the populace - not of the “terrorists” but of our own government.

If the goal of terrorists is to instill fear and create an environment that encourages it (by, say, stripping our liberties to defend against it), then everytime you hear about “free speech zones” or “wiretapping”, as cliche as it sounds, the terrorists are indeed winning.

Posted by: Thomas R at May 15, 2006 12:30 AM
Comment #148255

A good article Stephen - but I wish to speak upon a Digression, to-wit: being “Level Headed” with crypto-fascists. There is a Slippery Slope here. There is a Problem with the notion of conducting Reasoned Discourse with Nazis.

One cannot do so: one must not do so.

First, because there is No Moral Equivalency between the two conflicting positions: Edward R. Murrow tried to point it out, when his Editors were trying to strive for “Journalistic Objectivity.”

We have seen what happens when journalists try to be “objective” between the Message of the Right and the Message of the Left. What happens is: the Right takes advantage of the False Equivalency and uses it to promulgate yet more Evil, yet more Lies, yet more Suffering and Oppression.

I suppose the most glaring example of conducting Reasoned Discourse with Conservatism happened between Neville Chamberlain and Adolph Hitler. Chamberlain came back, proudly and happily waving that nonagression pact, secure in the knowledge that he had Avoided Confrontation. The result: 50,000,000 dead.

One can have no truck with Fascists or Oligarchs. Whether they dress up in uniforms or wear the newest business suits. The result of such a misguided effort is always to the detriment of the World. In some way. Always.

Wake up and LOOK AT THIS NATION. Are you blind?

The time for Polite Discourse is over. Now is the time for Hot Tar and Long Poles.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 7:48 AM
Comment #148306

Betty,

Please place me on your do not call list.

Posted by: Rob at May 15, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #148327

Cole-
I hope things are heading in that direction, and I think you may be right. Let’s not forget, though, that history has a way of throwing us curveballs. Another terrorist attack might frighten people into the reassuring, though futile act of giving up their freedoms for the sake of their security.

We must have a strong sense of the value of our freedoms, or otherwise we may lose them.

Thomas R.-
I think the greatest victory the terrorists could gain is indeed frightening us into that kind of irrational behavior. If we make ourselves a debt-ridden, isolated, locked down police state, we will have vindicated the negative outlook of the terrorists, and marginalized ourselves, which was the terrorist’s wish in the first place.

Betty Burke-
The problem is, the vast majority of Republicans are actually reasonable people. Nobody likes being screamed at. Nobody likes being compared to the scum of the Earth. People simply don’t think that way.

The thing is, reasonable people can support unreasonable causes and leaders. They often do so because they don’t see an alternative means to face whatever anxiety that the leader promises to take care of.

Part of my strategy is to give these people a way out, a means of agreeing with me on a dignified basis. If I scream at them and call them Nazi’s, I may end up reinforcing their resistance to my point of view.

The point, additionally, is not where a person is, but where they’re heading. The question you should ask of me is what kind of moderation I practice. Neville Chamberlain gave the enemy what he wanted, hoping he wouldn’t want more. That’s not what I’m looking to do, to take a moderate action that will aid an immoderate cause. No, I take a moderate approach because the moderate approach has more of an edge.

Facts and figures, logic and reason can slip into people’s minds in a way that the blunt attacks and excoriations will not. As the facts of the cases permeate the atmosphere, and our interpretations stand up better to the pressure of examination, our quiet command of the facts will overcome their short term command of people’s adrenal glands.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2006 1:11 PM
Comment #148335

Stephen,

I think your pendantic approach continues to miss the real goal of moderation. Most President’s great successes come when they are able to craft solutions to America’s problems that are consistent with their oppositions philosophy and still achieve the goal that they are trying to accomplish. See the End of Welfare as we know it, NAFTA, Food Stamps, and the Opening of China as examples.

Your message of reasonableness is a good one. Try coupling it with something that we conservatives believe in rather than something you think we should believe in and then there is true success.

One of the causes for the failings of the Bush Presidency is the Republican’s great success of late. Without an opposition to sway, he has not had to practice moderation and seek the middle ground. This in part has led to many of the problems that you have pointed out so elequoently in your original post.

Much as you would like voters to see the error of their ways and come to the blue side. I’d like to see the Democrats to see the error of their ways and learn how to reconnect with voters on the issues that they feel are important. I won’t fall back on the tired, “Democrats have no ideas” bandwagon. I realize that they have many. They need to figure out how to take those ideas to the public. While they may be able to make gains on the “We’re not Bush” platform. They will be emphemeral if they can’t figure out how reconnect with voters. For the good of America, we need both sets of ideas to be able to be marketed and considered by the populace.

Posted by: Rob at May 15, 2006 1:30 PM
Comment #148372

Rob-
First paragraph: The real goal of moderation is not to enact some legislation which triangulates different party policies, but to approach policy without the baggage of trying to satisfy ideology instead of practical necessity.

Second paragraph: I wouldn’t be writing here, if people did not believe one thing while I wished for them to believe another. It is no crime to try and get somebody to believe in something you believe they should. That’s the foundation of our system, really. It’s not elitism, it’s persuasive discourse. What I try to do, often enough, is demonstrate that the principles and premise that conservatives believe in are better served by what I suggest in terms of policy.

Paragraph three: The trouble isn’t the lifting of opposition, but that there was little in place internally to preserve Republican moderation. The inclination of this current crop of Republicans has been towards radicalism, and the destruction of the barriers that get in the way of that agenda.

What should have happened, what would have kept the Republicans in power far longer, would be their self-moderation. It is a mark of this problem with self control that the Republicans are represented publically with the loudest of the loudmouths and the most vicious of attack dogs. Howard Dean may seem shocking to folks like you, but you folks on the right seem not to be aware how long we’ve had to listen to outrageous partisan venom from the likes of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, among others. Dean is mild in comparison to these guys. Just look at the title of their books, whenever you feel tempted to judge us on our elitism, obnoxiousness, and partisanship.

Paragraph four: I sure hope we don’t depend on a “not Republican” platform. I think that was part of what created the Republican’s problem, really. Everything was defined in terms of things not being done the way the liberals did. Unfortunately, some “liberal” policies were actually practical, too. The GOP made a business of trying to discount liberal science, liberal big government, liberal entitlements, liberal judges, etc, etc.

Ultimately, they measured us more than they measured what they became over time. The rank and file Republicans were taught to focuse more on the flaws of Democrat politicians than their own. Result? The GOP went out of control. Same thing happened to the Democrats in the Seventies and eighties.

Ultimately, though partisan opposition is nice to encourage moderation, the best moderation is what you you enforce on yourself. People’s philosophies can run away with themselves when the person doesn’t seek to remain grounded.

I sure hope my people maintain their feet on the ground. It would be sad to repeat the mistakes of our rivals.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2006 5:36 PM
Comment #148399

Stephen,

First Paragraph, idealogy is far different than philosophy. The idea that government bureacracy reduces the effectiveness of entitlement programs is based on a smaller government philosophy of conservatives. Clinton was able to enact welfare reform because it appealed to those principals rather than rejected them. He was unable to pass universal healthcare for the opposite reasons.

Second paragraph: Fair enough, but I think that it is more than partisan bickering that your proprosals seldom ring true to us. We should all try the debate trick of how would our opponent solve this problem more often.

Third and fourth paragraphs: I don’t discount the failure of self-moderation. In my original post, I did note that the lack of a cohesive opposition was only one of the causes. However, the success of the two party system in the U.S. was built on having an opposition party that can successfully bring to the table options that the populace can embrace and rally around. In the early 90’s, conservatives were able to make some strides by defining themselves as “not liberals;” however, they also brought concrete simple goals that connected with every day American’s in the Contract for America. The Democrats for the last decade have not distilled there message into truly understandable bullet points that resonate with the population.

Re: loudmouths. I’m not a big fan of Rush, Hannity, and their ilk. When you raise Dean as their counterpoint, aren’t you a little scared as a Democrat. Rush and his ilk are not officially part of party. They are not doubt helpful to some degree in the same way that Michael Moore, Janeane Garofao are to the Democrats. Do you really want to lower the expectations of your party chairman to the point where he is expected to compete on the mud slinging of the AM airwaves? I sure don’t want that kind of attitude leading the Republican Party. Despite my or your reservations with Bush at the front, you’ve got to admit it’s better than that. I would like to see a day when we can get back to reasonable discourse both in Washington, that’s why we need a reenergized, organized opposition.

Finally, you pointed out correctly that neither party is immune from lack of self-moderation. The real question is why would we really expect anything different without a firm check from an opposition party?

You can hope against hope, but if the Democrats are able to regain control of the Senate, House, and White House you will expect big things from them over and over won’t you. At some point, those things that the base expects have to get some attention. It’s at that point that the party is no longer legislating for the country anymore but for the base that is the tipping point isn’t it?

Posted by: Rob at May 15, 2006 6:47 PM
Comment #148525

Stephen:

I reiterate (and I’ll let the Historical Facts do my speaking for me).

“Moderation” with the Extreme Right equals:


Slavery, and the War to defend it as a “State’s Right”

6,000,000+ dead Jews, Gypsies, Gays, and Intellectuals

The HUAC Hearings

The McCarthy Hearings

The subversion of the Constitution in Watergate

Three Mile Island - and Toxic Waste Dumps everywhere

Global Warming

Catsup as a School Lunch Vegetable

Iran/Contra

The Savings and Loan Bailout - including nearly $2 Billion for Neil Bush

The subversion of the Constitution in the Coup of 2000

Bin-Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States

The invasion of Iraq

The Plame-Wilson Affair

Vanishing Halliburton Billions

The subversion of the Constitution in Ohio in 2004

The Katrina Massacre

Domestic Spying On Citizens Of The United States

to name but a Few


Now, if you want to hold Polite Discourse with these bastards, you go right ahead. As far as I’m concerned, when one sees a Threat to one’s Liberty, one’s Health, one’s Life, and one’s Planet, one reacts to eliminate that Threat, or one lose: one’s Liberty, one’s Health, one’s Life, and one’s Planet.

Period.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 11:25 PM
Comment #148644

Betty,

How would deal with the extreme left then? Some historical facts to contend with:

1. The 40,000,000 dead under Stalin

2. The forced relocation of teachers to the farms under Mao

3. The complete repression of freedom of the press and religion for generations in Eastern Europe, China, and USSR

4. Tanks in Tiananmen Square

5. The poverty of Cuba under Castro

6. Forced “revolution” in Poland

Extrimism on either side leads to abuse. To compare Bush to Hitler is to compare FDR to Stalin. Convienant for demagoging issues and excusing hate as a substitute for constructive opposition but not very accurate.

Posted by: Rob at May 16, 2006 1:21 PM
Comment #148654

Rob-
Ideology is just a collection of philosophies, sometimes cohesive, sometimes contradictory. I think triangulation is no guaranteed of moderation or good policy, no more than the composite construction of the Frankenstein monster ensured it’s sociability.

Moderation, to me, signifies not a position between two extremes, but rather the manner in which the politics and policy are handled. The key question is whether people have grounded their belief and practice in an alert understanding of the real world, or whether they’re off in a imaginary world of their own making, like those politics and partisanship reinforce.

Because of that, I can’t agree with the notion of moderation being merely another word for compromise, since a compromise can be as off the wall as the views it grafts together.

I don’t think the Democrats need to do a Contract For America. The Republicans needed to do that to repackaged their ideology for the 90’s, after nearly six decades out of power. The Democrats have pretty much defined what they are for, and Americans want what we got.

The key is making sure that voters understand that this ties into the individual candidates. We Democrats need to ditch the consultant based pandering that’s hindered us, and break out the passion people really want out of us.

As for Loudmouths? The trick is, you have a whole network worth of these people, and whether you know it or not, you’re getting much of your talking points from these people. I think the main difference between loudmouths among us and loudmouths in your party is that our loudmouths are not considered so authoritative. Janeane Garofalo is just some movie star to most of us. Michael Moore, though popular to a certain extent, is not considered a main conduit of information. We use the mainstream media, and actually prefer the information to the analysis.

The Democrats are not so trusting of their government officials as they once were. We had LBJ, the Vietnam War, the Carter Administration, and all the ruckus with Clinton and his attendant scandals.

What we mainly want out of people like Dean is what he’s doing right now: no more blue state/red state horse hockey. We try for them all, see what we can get. Additionally, he’s not afraid to speak his mind on the Republicans, which is at least an improvement on the passive predecessors he’s had.

As for Bases? That’s a term for consultants, I feel, and it’s harmfully reductionist. It gets people focused on doing unto only their narrow core constituency, which means they aren’t paying attention to the needs of the public in aggregate. There needs to be more attention paid to that.

Because the information flow and attention of the public is imperfect, self-moderation is crucial, because things have to get really screwed up before it causes electoral problems for the average incumbent. The check can’t simply be the other party, since the other party can be equally clueless.

No, it has to be self moderation. We have to willingly transcend partisanship, and ground ourselves in practical necessities. That is the firm check we need. It’s the only firm check that leads to truly useful action. Anything else will have us wrapped in our own illusions.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2006 2:10 PM
Comment #148666

Stephen,

I disagree with much of your analysis but appreciate your thoughtfullness and optimism. Ordinarily I’m there with you on the optimism front, but just can’t find it in me to expect the best of concentrated power.

The only point I take real issue with is the loudmouths. You put me personally in the middle, and I feel the need to defend myself. I don’t have talking points. I do have beliefs that I have come to hold over time and thought. I also have beliefs that are fungible because I have put less time and thought into them than other issues. I also do my research. Contrary to the popular opinion, there are conservatives our there that are not being taken for a ride. I fancy myself a well educated thinker not a follower. My primary news source is NPR not Fox.

I’m an odd hybrid of libertarian, liberal, and conservative. No one group speaks to all of my beliefs certainly not Rush and Co. I voted for Bush, but I disagree with many of the things he has done. I did not vote for Clinton, but I did agree with some of the things that he did. However, at my core the things I believe are the best solutions for the problems of our country are things that Democrats reject usually on philospohical grounds, so I can’t find a nice home there.

What I find interesting is that Democrats continue to try to define themselves as “free thinkers,” and the Republicans as “sheep”. I realize that it is good political marketing. But I can’t believe that you really believe that individual citizens are really that black and white. Otherwise why do you show up here? That kind of disrespect for the opinions of the opposition from the “free thinkers” seems hypocritical.

Btw, I consider the difference between idealogy and philosophy to be wider than you do. I consider an idealogy the equivilant of a frozen dinner, prepackaged and ready to be eaten and philosophy to be the produce aisle. Many fresh ideas that an individual can choose from to create their own dinner. That’s what I meant above.


Posted by: Rob at May 16, 2006 3:01 PM
Comment #148721

Rob:

Get Real! You think Stalin and Mao were “Left” merely because they appended the word “Socialist” to their activities?

Why, then, you must believe that North Korea is a Democratic Republic, run by the People! After all, their Official Name, right there in black and white, is the “People’s Democratic Republic Of North Korea.”

Of course, it is neither “of The People,” nor is it a Republic, nor is it in any way Democratic. You (and countless others) have been hoodwinked into believing a “Big Lie.” Just because some Fascist Dictator calls their government “Democratic” or “Socialist” doesn’t make it so.

As for Cuba (which is a much better example of the Extreme Left - Lefter than I am, for example), you mention the Poverty specifically. Don’t you think that might have something to do with the Embargo and 50 Years of attempting to destabilise it?

Remember, Castro came here to meet with Eisenhower: he got an extremely terse encounter with Vice President Richard Nixon - late of the McCarthy Hearings with his friend Roy Cohn - instead, and was spurned in his offer of Free Trade and Military Cooperation. (Remember: J. Edgar Hoover was in thrall to The Mob, who were pissed at all the Casinos they had lost during the revolution, and who had possession of the Evening Gown photographs.) So, Fidel did the only thing he could do: he contacted Russia. He didn’t want to have such long supply lines: he would rather have dealt with us than them - but we closed that avenue and compelled him to find Other Global Friends. Then, we set about invading him, and poisoning him three times: once to kill him, once to make his hair fall out, and once to make him smell bad. The CIA has already admitted to this.

All of your other arguments rely upon accepting what Totalitarian Dictatorships have called their governments - such as the “People’s Democratic Republic Of North Korea.” If you want to take their Word for it, be my guest.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 16, 2006 6:09 PM
Comment #148726

So Betty,

Just to be clear. Everything you hate and can’t stand is right, and everything good and kind is left, correct? Just want to make sure where you stand.

Mao wasn’t a leftist.

Castro’s repression of religion and a free press is the U.S.’s fault.

Stalin is a conservative.

Is that right?

Posted by: Rob at May 16, 2006 6:24 PM
Comment #148734

Rob-
If I lump you in, I’m sorry. I’m a categorizer by nature. This is ironically what gives me my appreciation for calm open-mindedness, as yours is not the first time I’ve misread somebody. By far. I apologize.

I think your comparison between frozen dinners and ideology hits the spot, but really, I would say that both fall into the realm of abstraction. Ideology may be a frozen dinner, but philosophy is no better than restaurant food or homecooking at best.

That said, of course, you can’t really get along in this world without complex sensibilities like those, so my advice would be to do a lot of home cooking and avoid too much processed food in your diet. Today’s politics to me seem like the rhetorical equivalent of snack cakes, really. Empty calories when it comes to taking real world action, you could say.

To me politics is useless unless it actually develops solutions to problems and disagreements that serve the public good.

The free thinker distinction largely comes from the fact that we don’t have quite the organized delivery system for propaganda that the Right does. Time and time again, folks like myself run into the latest greatest talking point in somebody’s arsenal. We look it up, we find this pundit on the other end. We look up the pundit’s source, or research the story, and suddenly We see the fact the debater had tried to pin us with in the first place. And often, it’s misinterpreted or twisted out of recognition.

This is the repeated experience that gives people like me the impression of far too much conformity in opinion among the Republicans, far too much reliance on authority figures. You might not have that problem, but many within your party do.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2006 6:48 PM
Comment #148738

Betty Burke-
I neither support those things, nor recommend appeasing those who did those things. You seem to have my lack of support for making personal attacks on Republicans confused with my support for their positions or misdeeds. If you care to read through my posts you will see passionate disagreement on almost all the points involved.

Like many Republicans, you confuse disagreement with your methods with disagreement on the issues. Maybe if you spent a long enough time actually researching, you would realize that even Republicans are having trouble with much of what’s being done by this government.

I’m telling you the politics of this nation are complex, once you get past the labels. In fact, if you think about it in cultural terms, the possibilities go on indefinitely. It’s like Kittridge said in the first Mission Impossible movie: Everybody has pressure points. You find out what’s important to people and you squeeze. He says it in a sinister way, but it’s true, and many pressure points work across party lines. That’s how Reagan got elected, that’s how Clinton got elected, and its how the Democrats will take back the Senate and the House. Simply put, people are human beings first, and with sufficient persuasion, we can dig under the partisan difference and create newer, broader constituencies. In fact, it’s best to take this approach, because if you only try to appeal to the most partisan, you generally end up dealing up with a choir preaching to itself.

No, I’m going to use as the cornerstone of my political efforts, the stone you would reject: The Republicans who aren’t the partisan base, who aren’t in lockstep with their party. The independents who share some views with us. The people who wouldn’t past muster on the basis of an ideological test, but who, given enough convincing, could become our allies, and even shift their opinions over time.

And why? Because it’s far easier than chewing somebody out and then expecting them to agree with you.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2006 7:15 PM
Comment #148743

Stephen,

Regarding philosophy, I have disagreement that it represents an abstraction. It has to by it’s very nature. I’m not particularly utilitarian in nature, so I’m more confortable there. It’s the reason why I’m willing to count myself among the ranks of a party that does things that I disagree with as often as I agree because on the whole I’d rather they do the wrong things for reasons I agree than the right thing for reasons I don’t.

I guess that’s part of why the illegal immigration issue doesn’t seem to get me to riled up. I’m more bothered by the responses to the issue on either side than by the problem itself.

I take your points on conformity among the right. But I have to admint that I see much of the same out of those on the left. This is probably a case of us seeing what we want to see and hearing and what we want to hear. It’s much easier to create a strawman argument of what we believe that the others believe in and knock it down than to engage in the rational discourse that gets us to the common ground you want.

The thing that Clinton and Reagan had most in common was their ability to listen. Not to just hear. It was the cornerstone of their communication skills. Then they successfully tuned their message to appeal to the widest cross-section and unite rather than divide. Bush supposedly does this well in person though I’ve not personally seen it. However, Bush and in my opinion Kerry and Gore have not been able to do it in the electronic medium that Clinton and Reagan conquered. I think we can all hope for better in this dimension.

Posted by: Rob at May 16, 2006 7:33 PM
Comment #148881

Stephen:

You do what you need-to/can-stomach.

As for me, I have spent years trying Polite Discourse with crypto-fascists.

Finally, as Sarah Vowell put it, [my] brain was dumbfounded by the sheer paucity of my most Negative Imaginings as to just how much Harm could be done by the present administration…

No more.

No mas. No more Ms. Nice Betty.

And the fact is, you might just be wrong: mightn’t you? Your Open Mind has to concede that, if you are Wrong, you are just doing what Neville Chamberlain did - in a much slower Train Wreck, of course.

There can be no Polite Discourse with the likes of Karl Rove and Tom Delay.

There can be no Toleration of the Intolerant: it’s okay to let the Klan and the ANP march in the streets - it is their right, after all - but would you allow them the right to march right into the White House?

Because that’s what they’ve done. It was Colin Powell who continuously referred to “Doug Feith’s Gestapo Office” in the pentagon. We now have a Reichsminister For Torture (Gonzales), a Reichsminister For Internal Security (Hayden), a Reichsminister For Sturm Und Drang (Shock And Awe - Rumsfeld), and a catch-all Office-Collector like Hermann Göring (Rove) - WAKE UP AND SMELL THE CIVIL-RIGHTS BURNING.

Or do you prefer not to learn from the Lessons Of History?

Not me. No More. I have reached the end of my tether and am now in full death-struggle mode. If they rig another election I will be in the streets - and I won’t be alone, whether you decide to join us or not.


Rob:

Look, it’s easy; read your Dictionary:

Liberalism A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority.
Fascism A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. Oppressive, dictatorial control.

Now, between the Two Definitions, above, which one most accurately describes the governments under Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc.?

Since it is Fascism, and since the “Extreme Left” must refer to Ultra-Liberals - (yes? you do agree that Liberal = Left and Conservative = Right, don’t you?) - then it follows as the Night the Day that all of those Fascist Dictators simply lied to the World about what they were and what they were doing.

Just as the Leader of the “People’s Democratic Republic” Of North Korea is doing - or, did you think he fits the definition of “Ultra-Liberal” as well?

Still, it’s okay by me if you want to continue to promulgate Stalin’s and Mao’s Big Lie: it just goes to show that Conservatives are Easily Fooled…

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 17, 2006 7:42 AM
Comment #148938

Betty,

“Look, it’s easy,” you say. Yes it is. You declare all the bad in the world to be the conjuring of the “other side.” Then you don’t have content with the mixed up reality that all idealogies taken to the extreme can produce horrible results. Yep, it’s really easy to be hateful when you make no strides to understand the opposition. Yep, it’s really easy when anyone that holds views similar to your own does bad things, you can wave your magic wand and send them to the other side.

How much in common you have with the religious right.

Posted by: Rob at May 17, 2006 12:19 PM
Comment #148987

Rob-
This is Democracy. You can lend your support for certain actions, while carrying your opposition to others. To be sure, I would say that a philosophy should be the reason you do something, rather than the reason you oppose somebody doings something.

I supported the War in Iraq when I believe that Terrorist might be based there, and that Saddam still had his WMDs. Did it matter to me that others supported the war for other reasons? No, and it wouldn’t have, so long as they had not used their philosophy as a motivation for not being honest and straight with me. So long as I am allowed my informed consent, I can agree with a rival’s policy if I think that’s what’s best. This, of course, is one part of what I consider moderation.

Under this definition, Clinton’s welfare reform could be characterized as moderation of a sorts for him, so long as Clinton actually believe this was best in terms of the policy, as opposed to him doing it just so he could get the GOP of his back and take credit for the policy move. Another part would be contingent on whether Clinton or the GOP’s decision to put forward Welfare Reform was based on real facts, or just partisan spin from one side or the other.

So moderation, for me, would include alert attention to the facts as they are, and decision making done accordingly and the willingness to assent to policies from political rivals that one does not dispute.

I’ve said the left isn’t immune to the temptations of immoderation, but that’s essentially corollary to my broader belief that people in general are vulnerable to it. I believe that my party, must avoid some bad habits in order to avoid such problems.

I believe the Republicans, for reasons relating to their former long term minority status, their overdriven political ambitions, and their cultivated disdain for mainstream culture, have fallen into these habits, and in fact reinforced them. I see some of these habits being picked up recently, but thankfully it’s not too bad yet.

Betty-
I have no need to demonstrate my committment to pushing back against the abuses of the Bush administration. I have done so time and again, and will do so as long as it takes.

The question is, who are you writing to? Whose mind are you hoping to change? Right now, you’re attacking one of the staunchest Democrats on the site! And Why?

Because I don’t think being purposefully offensive helps me recruit people who are centrist or moderate Republican.

I am not backing fascists, crypto or otherwise. My posts should make that abundantly clear. I am not appeasing them. My intent, by evenly stating facts, and making calm, well reasoned interpretations is to give them no wiggle-room other than to waste people’s patience on continual denials that end up getting contradicted when the facts come out.

I came to this site because I liked debating in an environment where the force of the facts matter more than the nastiness of the insults. It’s a headache-and-a-half to argue a point with somebody who’s just trying to be inventive with their insults and curse words. I have no desire to be so tedious and offensive to an audience I’m trying to convince of things.

I’m not looking to convince Tom DeLay or Karl Rove. I’m looking to convince that person on the fence or that person on the other side who’s dissatisfied. If you think that’s a bad idea, talk to Reagan or Clinton.

This is not a death struggle. We’re not looking to destroy the Republicans. They’re doing a fine job of it themselves. What I’m doing is not so much different from an Aikido move. I’m using the opponent’s own force and aggression against them. The Republicans have all the outrages and aggressive atrocities we could ever imagine. What I do is frame those crimes and misdemeanors in such a way that others feel compelled to be outraged about these things too.

If I were to take your approach, I’d be stopped cold- I’d outrage others about me before I could outrage them about Bush.

Don’t think that my approach is soft. It’s soft the way a brick wall is soft. I’m not throwing the bricks, but it’s nonetheless effective if the Republican propagandists choose to run into it, as they have time and again.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2006 3:15 PM
Comment #149030

Stephen,

My previous post should have said that I have no disagreement with the fact that it represents an abstraction. Sorry for the mistake there. I think we agree on that point and nearly everything else you have to say about personal viewpoints and the ability to form coalitions around policy initiatives in the public sphere.

I agree that all people are proned to immoderation. However, I continue to believe that the conformity of thought among the right and the left is more easily presumed from outside the tent than from inside. I think we all like to believe that our personal beliefs stem from something greater than the thought of the moment.

Democrats seem to revel in throwing that charge of “sheep” at Republicans just as Republican seem to enjoy throwing the charge at Democrats of “PC.” The reason it gains traction is that there is some truth to the statement for some subset of the people. However, these charges seem to fail the moderation test that you are aiming to establish. They replace reasoned discord with name calling. We may believe that about one another, but really what good does it do to make the discussion about it?


Posted by: Rob at May 17, 2006 5:59 PM
Comment #149031

Stephen,

Btw, I have thoroughly enjoyed this conversation.

Posted by: Rob at May 17, 2006 6:02 PM
Comment #149207

The question is, what do you want to do?

I hold on to hope, because I cannot see the use in giving it up. To give it up is to give my rivals their victory free of charge. We may see ourselves defeated in the next election. Bush may continue to do damage to this country, and he may have inflicted fatal damage on our country’s status as a major world power. But as long as I can struggle for something better, I will, because anything less would just be sad.

I hope others who find themselves depressed by the events of the last few years can find it in themselves to hope for something better, because that hope is the necessary prelude for us taking action to take back our country, not as Republican or Democrat, but as Americans. We did it once before, during the Great Depression, and we can do it again.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 18, 2006 12:06 PM
Comment #150092

I’m confused by this post; maybe it’s the week or so away, but I just didn’t follow it.

For the sake of continuing, a couple of points:

1) There is nothing that Bush can do short of bombing the major cities of the U.S. that will diminish us as a world superpower. Superpower is not a title or status symbol, it is a fact. There is simply no other country besides China that are able to compete with us in that regard. We may go back to having two superpowers, but that isn’t the fault of Bush. It’s the reality that China is reemerging from nearly a century of inward looking, soul searching to rejoin the world.

2) Hope is as American as apple pie. We all hope for the better. I can’t imagine that anyone puts their name on the ballot without some of it. Regardless of party, we all think that we can do better than we did last year/ decade/ or century.

3) I’ve agreed with the overall tenor or your posts, I think their great ideals for how we should frame debate in this country. Like most ideals, there probably not realistic in a system that is competitive by its very nature.

Posted by: Rob at May 22, 2006 9:49 AM
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