Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Answer is Yes

Bush prides himself on sticking to his guns. There’s a lot of sticking he’s done, to be sure, but he is an elected official, for crying out loud, and right now, he’s sticking to those guns in opposition to most of the country. He wants to believe that there is some power in being the last good man standing, but most of America doesn’t see things that way. While he hopes he becomes Truman rather than Harding, Bush’s stubborness probably won’t do him a lot of good in the course of history.

Bush is a victim of his own success, surprisingly enough. He created a powerful, forceful political machine to ensure that he and his part would push past all the controversies to hold on to power. For the first six years, it worked. However, it worked based on wedge issues and appeals to fear, and what happened in the '06 election is that people lost their fear of losing the Iraq war. They also lost much of their anxiety concerning the often berated "libs".

You could see it happen in the trend of the polls, as numbers went down. Bush went from the heights to the depths of popularity. And why? I think I can sum it up pretty quickly: Bush, looking at the public's opinion always decided to go on his own little tangent, and he wasn't good enough at policy to justify this with long term results.

With Katrina, the reconstruction still lags, and the city is still limping along. Hardly a good follow up to the festival of political obliviousness that characterized the primary response. Heroic action was necessary. Instead, Bush and his subordinates let bureaucracy run amok, and took several days to do anything about one of the most shameful results of the disaster. However badly Blanco and Nagin botched their plans and operations, they at least recognized this as an honest-to-god problem that needed immediate fixing, not excuses. They certainly weren't back doing fundraising the day after. Only in a White House as remote from reality as the Bush White House would that be anywhere near acceptable, would these things pass unnoticed.

Katrina was a breaking point, an obvious disaster that even Republicans could not, in that time and place, justify a limp response to. It also demonstrated that Iraq was not merely a problem because of external forces. This, and a number of other problems indicated to the American people that that Bush's failures in the war could be seen as part of a wider failure of leadership.

A funny word, that one. We hear it so much in the corporate world, in politics. Often, though, it's indicative of this top down relationship, a shepherd towards his sheep, an alpha male to the rest of his pack.

What's neglected is more than just the Democratic notion of feedback from the constituents upwards, it's the fundamental expectation of leaders at whatever scale of government, with whatever flavor of it, free or unfree, that the leader or leaders will help manage society towards a better situation. Failures in this can be worrisome not just for leaders who have to worry about the next election, but also for those who do not, but have to fear what happens when people find things out and respond.

A dictator or oligarch who fails badly in an endeavor can plant the seeds of revolt. If they cannot guarantee the prosperity and safety of their people, replacement, either by intrigue, or outright violence, becomes a very real possiblity. Even without Democracies, heads can roll when leaders fail.

Democracies, though, afford people the ability to figuratively, rather than literally roll the heads. The leaders get direct feedback from people not afraid to speak up. In many ways, though Democracy constrains its leaders more, it does them a favor. It denies them the power to dig them and their parties any deeper than leaders with much greater power could. The people and their civil liberties moderate the outrages.

Unfortunately, Bush got and sought after more power than that, and to make things worse, not only still failed, but managed to make people fear what he would do next, unconstrained.

The 2006 election represents the constraint of the people upon a President who has demonstrated himself to be unable to handle power responsibly. I think my fellow Democrats in Congress should take note of that and understand that nobody will much mind our party sticking to its guns on Iraq. We have the mandate of the people. Bush has his denial of the mandate. If he wants to make himself and his party more unpopular, that's his business. Ours is to do something about his out of control policy, to cut it mercifully short with the graduated withdrawal that most Americans (hell, most Iraqis) favor. This is a man badly in need of a reality check who is very good at sounding like he has the political wind in his sails. Pay his threats and his implications no heed.

Americans don't want this war ended for political reasons. They want it ended because they don't want to spend the better part of a decade, like we did with Vietnam, keeping a failed war on life-support. If you quail at the notion of being blamed for this war, then you're taking this leader and his party far too seriously, joining them in their little bubble.

The Democratic Party does not need to rest now, now that we've achieved the power we've wished for since 1994. If politics were all that mattered, that would be the end of the need to do something productive. We need to do better than that. We Democrats won because people really did want change, and they did not believe the Republicans capable of bringing that change. They believed that we would go after corruption, that we would keep Iraq from becoming a quagmire entangling us far into the next decade. They believe that under our leadership, they would see significant improvements in the government's operations.

We could, perhaps, get away with just playing politics, resting on our laurels, and letting the people who've gotten their frustration out of their system get back to being oblivious to matters in Washington. We could, but that would just make our revolution into a Reagan Revolution. As vaunted as that shift from the old New Deal/ Great Society order was, it was one made hollow by an emphasis on politics over policy, of trashing the Liberals and the Democrats rather doing the things to maintain and provide real basis for their party's good reputation.

People have turned to our party because we at least have something of an interest in gaining real world results from real world government. We're not so obsessed with deconstructing the goverment that we can't run it worth a damn. At least, that's what people think.

If we choose a path of keeping up appearances, it might be easy at first, but as the problem pile up, and people don't see their lives getting any better, or any action out of us, then they will turn against us. It will start out deceptively soft as cynicism and perhaps a "realistic" expectation that nothing much will get done, but when something happens that make leadership a crucial factor, they will look for some folks to blame, and we will be conveniently handy, and perhaps even materially responsible.

I know that many in Washington would question whether we should risk our newfound political strength taking on these tough decisions, making the tough calls. I would respond, that if you want to think that short term, have fun being a temporary majority. Americans want and expect results. They don't want explanations as to why they should be at peace with your wishy-washiness, certainly not when the neglect of tough choices brings with it the neglect of important matters. We have been spared much of the criticism for policies like Iraq, Katrina and other matters we're not entirely uninvolved with because we didn't take the blithely, belligerently dominant position on those policies that the Bush Administration and the Republican party did. We won, not because we're pure of heart, or inherently superior as a party, but because the Republican Party screwed up so badly and on so many levels that people saw little alternative.

We've done some good so far, but I see some disturbing signs out there that we're beginning to relax, beginning to like the power, beginning to think rather short-term and timid about the next election. I think that's a rather poor atititude to take. People do want bold leadership that has the will to do the good of the country. That kind of image was part of Bush's appeal, until his cowardice and paralysis on many issues showed through. What we need is to go about the business of creating strong policy at the legislative level. It should be good stuff, not cobbled together corporate wish-fullfilment. It shouldn't be cannon fodder, by any means. We should not be afraid of a Bush veto, but it shouldn't be there just to be vetoed. We should be assertive, though not offensively so, in the face of the Bush administration. Americans want a change in the direction of their society, and they want to see us making a good start of that.

And if we screw up? Admit the screw-up, and change our ways. If we look at the Bush administration and the Republican majority, we can see a whole panorama of mistakes that were never corrected for the sake of politics. Politics, in the end, is just what we do in order to get good policy that folks can agree on. It does not necessarily mean picking fights, nor avoiding them. It's not about winning power for all time- nobody will ever do that. It's about keeping this country happy, healthy, prosperous, running smoothly, and running justly. Now folks can spend a lot of time and effort trying to pretend that these things are being done, trying to fool people into thinking these things, but ultimately these efforts are doomed to fail, doomed to bring decay and despair to our society.

It may be tougher and scarier to take on the real issues. It might require more sacrifice on our part, things we really want. We might lose an election or two by being honest and trying to do things the right way. But if we get caught in the chaotic jumble of image-based politics, we will get all the difficulties, and ultimately end up worse losers for it. To put it bluntly, we will end up like Bush and the Republicans.

The answer is yes. Yes, we can be better leaders. Yes, we can make the tough choices. Yes, we can undo the damage that decades of irresponsible leadership have inflicted. Yes, we should be more honest. Yes, we should be less beholden to special interests. Yes, we should admit our mistakes, and yes, we should be willing to risk the consequences of that. When the American ask us whether we want to take the country in a new direction, whether we want to change things for the better, improving our national and homeland security, eliminating the deficit, cutting down waste, fighting corruption, mitigating natural disasters, and bringing to an end a failed war, the answer should be clearly yes. They want us to win, and even if we lose the short term policy battles witht his stubborn, intractable president, we win their approval, and when Bush leaves office, we'll likely get what we want anyways. And who knows? Maybe if we try, we'll win some fights we didn't expect to, and something will get done that might not have gotten done had we chosen to be timid in the face of an unpopular lame-duck president.

It's time to start being the majority party, and start doing the things the American people want, the things that will keep us a majority and Americans happy in the long term. The answer to the call of good government is yes, and no other will do.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2007 7:57 AM
Comments
Comment #220402

Too bad the lefts history goes against what you are calling for here Stephen.
The left was given a slim majority in 06, not a mandate to move our country even further to the left. Keep believing in this mythical, far-left mandate, and the Dems will end up like Bush and the Republicans just as the Reps are going to end up like clinton and the Democrats.

The Dems will limp along, blaming EVERYTHING on Bush, until they win in 08. They will then restart their far-left push.
You guys will love America again. The same kind of numbers about the economy and jobs will then be touted as being great. Corruption, the taking of rights and wars against nations which do not threaten us will “ok” again.
And Republicans and moderate Dems will feel as the left does now, a feeling we have felt before.

2010 will see the beginnings of another “change,” and the cycle will continue.

Posted by: kctim at May 15, 2007 10:27 AM
Comment #220416

Interesting how “Blaming Bush” is equated as “good leadership”; b/c, that’s all you’re going to get out of the dems for the next two years. They are going to tackle weak issues, pass some bills (nothing challenging) and the rest of the time they will blame and undermine Bush throughout the rest of his term. Nice going dems, way to show “good leadership” for our country!

Posted by: rahdigly at May 15, 2007 11:37 AM
Comment #220418

Rahdigly-
By all means, quote where I equate Blaming Bush with Good Leadership. I think the average reader understands that I find political buck-passing to be utterly obnoxious.

kctim-
The Democrats aren’t limping. They stand to do even better in the next elections. We have the edge on the Republicans in nearly every respect.

The majority we have is is more substantial by a few seats than what this Republican Congress ever had. If they had enough of a mandate to take the country in their direction, we have enough to take them in ours.

Besides, we actually have majority support on most issues, and our leadership is closer to the political center.

The Right spent thirty years blaming everything that had gone wrong in the nation on us while building a track record of corruption, mismanagement, and deficit spending. People were willing to overlook that in this day and age, for the sake of national security, where the Republicans had some age. But now? the Right can’t even claim that.

I really am sick of being criticized for blaming Bush for things he actually did wrong. What the hell ever happened to accountability? I want reporters to ask my candidates what they intend to do about the culture of corruption. I want my party to listen to the experts Bush didn’t listen to about how to get out of Iraq in the best way.

I want my people to actually do better, or otherwise, all this is not worth my time. If I’m going to fight for what right in American politics, I might as well fight for the reality of good government.

I don’t want my party to end like the Republicans. I don’t want my people or my leaders ending up that cut off from reality. If Government’s going to do some good for the people, which is what I believe in it doing, it’s got to be efficient, the policy has got to be right. My leaders have to be aware enough of the real world to know when things aren’t working, or won’t work, and they have to be good enough at what they do so they can actually create policy that works worth a damn.

If you think I’m satisfied with political victories alone, or even for the most part, you’re mistaken.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2007 12:02 PM
Comment #220427

No doubt in 30 years Republicans will resurrect GW Bush as the Reagan incarnate, but, we were just too blind to see it as Bush’s 28% approval rating attests. Isn’t that the same percentage as FREC’s, Fundamentalist Rightwing Evangelical Christians? Curious. Must be a Messiah thing, like Democrats and FDR, the most gratuitous violator of the U.S. Constitution in the history of our Presidents, until now.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2007 2:03 PM
Comment #220430

Stephen
I say these Dems are limping only because they are playing it safe until after 08. They start their far left agenda now and they very well could lose in 08. They do not want that so they will do exactly what you ask them not to.

IF the Dems do better in the next election, it will be only because they offered candidates more to the center again. Making Reps seem like far-right “wing-nuts” so that your own partys candidates seem moderate, is the only edge you have.

I do not believe the right had a mandate. When the right controlled everything, they said they were given a mandate and now that the left controls two parts, they think they have a mandate. The margin is so slim that I do not believe it qualifies as being a mandate to take the country into a certain direction.

“Besides, we actually have majority support on most issues, and our leadership is closer to the political center.”

No Stephen, the left has majority support in wanting the war to be over. To believe the likes of pelosi or kennedy are “closer to the political center” is to show how partisan you are thinking right now.

“The Right spent thirty years blaming everything that had gone wrong in the nation on us while building a track record of corruption, mismanagement, and deficit spending.”

Self pity is very unbecoming Stephen. The right blames the left and the left blames the right. You both do it to the point that it is almost comical to watch.

“But now? the Right can’t even claim that.”

We can either sit back and do nothing, such as we did in the 90s or we can act. Once again, the lefts history shows which they favored then and that appeasement is what they will do in the future.

“I really am sick of being criticized for blaming Bush for things he actually did wrong. What the hell ever happened to accountability?”

I know how you feel. Accountability is dependent on which party is at fault.

“I want reporters to ask my candidates what they intend to do about the culture of corruption.”

Kind of hard to do when they are part of that culture isn’t it.

“I want my party to listen to the experts Bush didn’t listen to about how to get out of Iraq in the best way.”

No, you want people to listen to the “experts” that agree with your view. Some “experts” believe leaving Iraq now will give create a vaccuum and that we should stay.

“I want my people to actually do better, or otherwise, all this is not worth my time.”

YOU, are one of the few on here that I believe that to be true of Stephen.
This is a fine post of what you would like to see your party do, but, judging by the lefts history, I just don’t think it will happen.

“I don’t want my party to end like the Republicans. I don’t want my people or my leaders ending up that cut off from reality…”

They already did that in the 90s Stephen and with a 90+%(?) return of incumbents, why should we believe things will suddenly be different this time around?

“If you think I’m satisfied with political victories alone, or even for the most part, you’re mistaken”

You may be, but the current so-called Dem leadership is not. That is why they will tread water until after they win in 08, before they start imposing their far-left agenda on us again. And as before, they will be removed and the Reps will take their place.
I know YOU want it to be different, but it won’t be.
The cycle will continue.

Posted by: kctim at May 15, 2007 2:05 PM
Comment #220438

Stephen, Amen!

I think this post could serve as a great letter to send to my democratic (and republican for that matter) representatives in Washington. I hope you won’t mind if I borrow much of it for just that purpose.

Bush will definitely wind up on the trash heap of history—a position still entirely too high for such a moronic idiot. To say that he is a victim of his own success is hardly accurate. He has absolutely NO track record of success in any arena. We, as American citizens, are victims of the damn silver spoons that have been placed in his mouth his entire existence in this world.

From the time he was appointed “president” by the Supreme Court, there was never any doubt in my mind that our federal government would decay to what has to be described as fascism’s unfortunate entry into mainstream American politics. The Bush administration has certainly made Nobel Laureate Sinclair Lewis seem like a modern day prophet! It is unbelievable to me that so few saw this type of disaster coming. The very qualities you listed as making Bush “appealing” were the very same ones that had me on my knees praying that Al Gore would be easily elected. In George W. Bush these qualities are not supported by anything of substance! Bush doesn’t have, never had, and is unlikely to ever acquire, the character, the intellect, the responsibility, the morality, the maturity, the temperance, the leadership, the desire for true public service, and the like. Therefore it was obvious to me that these so-called “appealing” qualities were nothing more than smoke, false bravado, fictitious, etc. George W. Bush is merely a manifestation of the ability to PURCHASE political power in these times and the dire consequences to a nation as great as our when this sort of circumstance occurs. In history, name one society, culture, nation, what have you, with long-term prosperity (a whole) when established or controlled by individuals craving power solely for power’s sake. Isn’t that what got Saddam Hussein executed? Isn’t that why Adolf Hitler was forced to commit suicide? Isn’t it Stalin who is responsible for (or at the very least, the initiator of) the modern day devastation of Russian infrastructure and massive loss of so much of its natural resources? History is replete with such examples. It’s a damn shame that we allowed George W. Bush to make America such an example and in the 21st century no less. Unlike those other examples, however, once he is gone from power, we can recover efficiently.

“Civilized,” prosperous nations require a respect for diversity, conflict resolution, and the sanctity of life. Great leaders work toward these ends. George W. Bush is 0 for 3 here, so it should surprise no one that our system of government has deteriorated to its current state. It is simply a reflection of the nature of the individuals who currently have it and its citizens held hostage.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at May 15, 2007 4:29 PM
Comment #220442

Stephen, sounds like an Independent’s prayer. Now, if you can only get your leaders to adhere.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2007 4:42 PM
Comment #220450

No doubt in 30 years Republicans will resurrect GW Bush as the Reagan incarnate, but, we were just too blind to see it as Bush’s 28% approval rating attests. Isn’t that the same percentage as FREC’s, Fundamentalist Rightwing Evangelical Christians? Curious. Must be a Messiah thing, like Democrats and FDR, the most gratuitous violator of the U.S. Constitution in the history of our Presidents, until now.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2007 02:03 PM

Latest polling data today from Gallup is Bush 33% and Congress 28%. If all you are saying is true, how explain these numbers?

Posted by: Jim at May 15, 2007 5:59 PM
Comment #220455

David R. Remer-
The Netroots are aware and are complaining. I can only hope folks make things eminently clear on that end that while we don’t expect the Democrats to work miracles, considering the president we have in there, we at least expect them to make the effort. We should not save Bush the torturous effort of getting out the veto pen. If he’s not as aggressive as he likes us to believe, we could get a lot past him.

kctim-
It’s not limping if you’re not injured. The Democrats are not suffering politically. But unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we’re doing enough, or that we wouldn’t profit by doing more. The truth is, we filled in the center from what we already had, really. We just gave greater backing to our center.

Culturally, the right lost the culture wars. People still want their entitlements. Arguments are about how to save Social Security, if it needs that, not about how to end it. Cultural conservatives are being driven to distraction by a culture that tolerates gays and lesbians without a second glance, which still doesn’t listen to all its dire warnings about the decay of modern morality. Pornography is widely available, beyond even what it was years ago. America still hasn’t returned to the Hays Code. Americans in general support environmentalism, and despite all the vitriol from the right believe that global warming is a threat.

People are looking for government to rein in business, looking for it to support science and culture. Hell, when Bush was running deficits, people were willing to see the tax cuts rolled back to take care of it. People want a raise in the minimum wage.

Pelosi and Kennedy are two Democrats, and not the only ones. Even if they’re to the left of Trotsky, there are plenty of folks in the center from our party. We didn’t deliberately purge them like the Republicans did.

As for self-pity? I can admit my party did wrong before, so cry me a river. That’s the past. What’s really going to make me cry is seeing us repeat that bulls***. We got a second chance, so why fail to take it? Why repeat the mistakes?

The fact remains that one reason the Right is out is that not only did they repeat our mistakes, they made them much worse.

As for defense, show me where I say appeasement is a good idea. That’s just the immature assertion of those on the right who want to contrast everything negatively with their military adventurism. I’m not a peacenik. I just think not every problem solving exercise in foreign policy we engage in should be given a military solution by default.

I do not care what party is involved. I want accountability from own party because I’m one of their constituents, and deserve that respect. I also want it because I know that the better I pay attention to them, the less they will stray from good governance. I want accountability from the other party because it’s had far to little of it given. There is much to be answered for in the years of Republican dominance in the legislature and the White House, certainly for Bush.

I want reporters asking the questions, and people applying the pressure, because I want it to be troublesome for these folks to misbehave. I want them to know who it is they serve and what is expected of them, and I want the standards to be high.

They cycle does not have to continue, and I have a feeling the Netroots won’t let it. But that’s them, and this me, and I will do my part.

You talk about likelihood… well, I believe that what’s more likely in politics to happen is what people ask for and demand. If these people feel their job security depends on keeping clean and avoiding trouble, so much the better. But it won’t happen if we Democrats don’t make our wishes clear, and the consequences for failure equally obvious.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2007 6:47 PM
Comment #220456

Jim….cite the figures correctly…and provide the whole picture, don’t just pick out the part you like best.
http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci=27589

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at May 15, 2007 6:54 PM
Comment #220457

Jim-
I believe these are the numbers you’re talking about.

Those numbers should not be taken out of context, though. the general tenor of these numbers indicates that people are generally glad the Democrats are in power, and that the worse that they think is that Democrats aren’t doing enough.

What I’m asking of my leadership is that they start taking risks with their newfound political power, instead of letting our mandate atrophy because of some fatalism concerning Bush’s stubbornness.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2007 7:02 PM
Comment #220459

Jim, try more than just one poll.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2007 7:34 PM
Comment #220477

Stephen
That is your view from the left, not the view from the middle. You can believe the people want higher taxes for their entitlements, want corporations punished and the right lost the “culture war” if you want, but that is not representive of what the average joe believes.
It is believing that the average joe sees it like you do, that will ensure the cycle continues.

I only mentioned pelosi and kennedy because you stated the lefts leadership. I am aware that there still are real Democrats out there. Too bad they are only heard from come election time, a moderate view would be best for our country.

I’m glad you think the people will get what they demand, very optimistic of you.
I am not a seer, so its possible the liberal Dems have turned a new leaf and will prove me and history wrong. I’m definetley not against that.

You see Stephen, you have hope that your party has changed, I know it has not.
The big question is, will you still be so outspoken about their wrongs when it is them who is in power?
I know I will be, only time will tell if the same goes for you.

Posted by: kctim at May 15, 2007 10:48 PM
Comment #220495

Stephen

They cycle does not have to continue, and I have a feeling the Netroots won’t let it. But that’s them, and this me, and I will do my part.

You talk about likelihood… well, I believe that what’s more likely in politics to happen is what people ask for and demand. If these people feel their job security depends on keeping clean and avoiding trouble, so much the better. But it won’t happen if we Democrats don’t make our wishes clear, and the consequences for failure equally obvious.

Very well stated Stephen. The cycle nonsense is exactly that. It is an easy out for people who either do not care or somehow believes it justifies the inapropriate actions of others. For some it means they have given up on expecting government to be held accountable, to abide by the letter of the law, and act in a responsible manner. Even the tiniest amount of corruption in government should not be tolerated. It is a sad state of affairs that so many people have been conditioned to expect and accept such sordid behavior from our law makers and the executive branch. I think it imperative that all investigations no matter how trivial be followed thru. Accountability is the only way that we can clean up government and once again instill confidence in the endeavors of our politicians.

Posted by: ILdem at May 16, 2007 8:14 AM
Comment #220496

kctim-
I think there’s a good case to be made for America being more ideologically aligned with the Democrats.
They overwhelmingly favor the essential elements of the Democrat’s energy plan, while being far more ambivalent and even negative about what the Republicans would offer. Renewables, conservation, and higher gas mileage requirements win hands down.

On Labor, the pattern is about the same. A majority favor unions, and more than half believe unions would help our economy. You get that even on a Fox poll, with a fifty/thirty split in union’s favor.

More than eighty percent favor an increase in the minimum wage. It’s an easy winner.

Most people favor gays and lesbians serving in the military. Though most oppose marriage rights, civil unions are favorable to enough people that it could be said that some form of recognition for couples is favored by at least half of Americans.

I’ll get back to you with more polls in my next comment.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2007 8:17 AM
Comment #220497

On the subject of Gun Control, most Americans favor it, and favor bans on assault weapons and semiautomatic handguns.

On the subject of abortion, a little over half of people support a persons right to it, are against overturning Roe vs. Wade, and believe its a decision to be had between an woman and her doctor.

On the subject of Taxes? Though people don’t like what they have to pay, most think its fair, and overwhelming majorities believe that corporations and the rich pay too little in taxes. Fifty-six percent of people disapprove of Bush’s tax policy.

Tax policy especially irks me, because Bush has essentially been handing out free money from a deficit in order to sustain them. Of course, that money isn’t so free.

Our tax phobia, stoked by years of right-wing propaganda, has made it difficult for people to make rational decisions about what government costs, and what it should do for the money that is given. Our infrastructure, our ability to maintain good public policy, are becoming victims of this immature attitude towards taxation. Twelve digit deficits following trillion dollar tax cuts are no accident. If we want better homeland security, better roads, long term wars overseas, entitlements at home and all these other things, we should be willing to pay for them. If we aren’t willing to pay, we should be willing to sacrifice things, and understand the consequences. We should not pick decay and decline of our country, though, over having to shell out a few more bucks at tax time. Prosperity and security are not free.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2007 8:35 AM
Comment #220500

IlDem
Easy out? Nonsense? Does that mean history is wrong then?
If the same Dems did not hold clinton accountable for anything, why should someone believe they will change course and start doing so in 08?

It is a “sad state of affairs” when so many people have been conditioned to ignore, defend or excuse the corruption in their own party in order to save their political power.
The Dems did it in the 90s, the Reps are doing it now. The Dems are ready to restart and the Reps will follow suit again.

Saying we do not care is ridiculous. Many of us actively work hard to get real results which only occur when 3rd partys win.

Posted by: kctim at May 16, 2007 9:40 AM
Comment #220503

Stephen
Its all in the wording my friend. When speaking of the average joe American, you can word anything to make it seem like they support one side or another. I could also create a list which showed how I think most Americans favor the Republicans.

Your list is simple and very basic and probably appeals to and represents what many Republicans also believe.
Hell, other than taxes and gun bans, I can’t say that I have spoken with many Republicans who do not want to protect the environment, protect workers or that abortion should be used to save a mothers life.
You speak only of right-wing propaganda, but it is left-wing propaganda which has labeled all Republicans as being totally against all of them.

One or two issues seperate Democrats from Repubicans, agendas seperate liberals from Conservatives.

“Our tax phobia, stoked by years of right-wing propaganda, has made it difficult for people to make rational decisions about what government costs”

Typical statement by proponents of big govt.
It is not right-wing propaganda which makes people dislike pay-cuts. It is not right-wing propaganda that makes people ask why govt is even involved in most things and it sure as hell isn’t right-wing propaganda which makes people wish govt would just leave them alone.

People do not mind paying taxes so that govt can do the duties of govt, but they do mind paying them when it is for duties that govt has no business being a part of.
That is the problem with the Dem party of today. Its leaders refuse to acknowledge the difference between urban and rural, west coast/northeast and everybody else. They do not understand how people love their country the way we do.
And until they finally do, the cycle will continue.

IF you guys were to put up candidates like Ike Skelton, alot of you want would happen. Even I would probably vote Democrat.

Posted by: kctim at May 16, 2007 10:17 AM
Comment #220511

kctim

Easy out? Nonsense? Does that mean history is wrong then?

Of course it does not mean history is wrong. What it means is that because most people feel helpless in regards to what can be done about accountability and corruption that they have adopted a casual who cares, there is nothing I can do anyways, attitude. This attitude is a sad state of affairs regardless of what party it applies to or when. I personally fully expect accountability in government. I expect all lawmakers and executive branch members to live by the letter of the law at all times regardless of party. At some point the people need to accept nothing less than honest and credible representatives in government. It is the only way we will ever return to responsible government.

Posted by: ILdem at May 16, 2007 11:48 AM
Comment #220514

kctim-
So, I present you with broad-based polling evidence saying that people are taking more liberal views, and your response is that it’s all because of the wording.

It’s funny that you mention that a number of Republicans take more moderate views, because they don’t get represented by their candidates. They’re scrambling to look like doctrinaire conservatives especially in the wake of the GOP rationalization of the loss, which was that they hadn’t looked conservative enough. I don’t know what you’re talking about in terms of Left-Wing propaganda being the source of this confusion, because the political leadership has made a litmus test of abortion positions, has failed to raise the minimum wage for the better part of a decade, and has done its absolute best to muddy the waters on global warming and other environmental issues. This is what these people have not only been saying unapologetically, but proudly laying out as their agenda.

It’s insanely easy, sometimes, to make Republicans and Right-Wingers look bad. Just repeat what they pose as actual positions.

As for taxes? Look, the Republicans have been buying more government than they have taxes to pay for. Unwilling to cut spending, they did not do the responsible alternative under those conditions, which would be to raise taxes. We are fighting the fiercest, most draining war in a generation, and yet they don’t ask for more taxes to pay for it. They pass a medicare drug benefit, surprising enough for those who are supposed to hate this kind of thing, and yet are unwilling to pay for this new spending by taking the money from elsewhere, or raising the taxes to make up the difference.

So tell me, what’s can possibly be rational about these kinds of decisions about the taxpayer’s money when new spending is put on the table without alternative or new sources of revenue to balance the budget with. In fantasyland, we could have lower taxes and pay for everything we want, but in the real world, you have to get the money somewhere. Mostly, we get it from our industrial competition, which uses it to pay for their economic growth. Meanwhile, the anxiety at home over spending leads to some stupid and ill-advised budget cuts and shuffles, and not only does government become more inefficient, but it becomes less able to do what people actually need it to do, in terms of mitigating damage from disasters, in addition to maintaining and improving public infrastructure.

I am a liberal, who believes that government can make a positive difference for the country in certain areas of concern. But I am also a realist and a pragmatist. Priorities have to be set; we can’t get everything we want. If we want more, we have to be willing to sacrifice to get it. If we’re not willing to make that sacrifice, we shouldn’t be spending the money of our children for things so unimportant to us.

You can call it a pay cut, and in a sense that’s what it is. However, as I’ve argued before, there are costs for being cheap about government. In an infrastructural sense, it makes no sense not to modernize our badly dated electrical grid, repair our highways, bridges, and waterways, and allow telecommunications companies to fall short of upgrading internet broadband capacity, despite the promises they made. We’re strangling our own economic development along these lines, yet paying out money for corporate welfare left and right. You have to spend money to make money, and Americans stand to profit greatly in terms of jobs and opportunities if they are willing to pay a little up front for it.

As for the Democratic Party ignoring those distinctions? Well, this last election it won by doing so, yet not doing so. It did not ignore the regional differences in beliefs, and fielded candidates appropriately. Result? Substantial gains in the West and Midwest.

At the same time, the Democrats did ignore the distinctions, and it worked for them. By not giving up people in the midwest and west for lost, by appealing to American’s wish to be united and at peace with one another, we reversed the Republican majority completely.

Some people want government to leave them alone. But for the most part, people want government intervening on their behalf in one way or another. Average Americans want some help from their government when they ask for it, not stingy rationalizations as to why government should be kept out. The issues I pointed to are places where simply phrased questions indicate that Americans want their government to promote fairness, maintain freedoms, and intervene on the average person’s behalf.

Appeal to ambiguities as you like: the questions were clear.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2007 12:13 PM
Comment #220517

Ildem
I did not say we are helpless. I said that history shows that the Democrats did not hold the clinton administration accountable and are not going to hold the next Dem president in 08 accountable either.

Whether the left and right want to admit it or not, they are only concerned with accountability and corruption when its the OTHER side.

“I personally fully expect accountability in government. I expect all lawmakers and executive branch members to live by the letter of the law at all times regardless of party”

Glad to hear that you won’t be voting for hillary if she is chosen to run.

“At some point the people need to accept nothing less than honest and credible representatives in government”

We passed that point long ago and as long as the two party paradigm is the peoples main focus, it will never come back around.

You believe this administration is the most corrupt and many on the right believe the previous one was. You laughed at their words of concern, they now laugh at yours.

Like it or not, its a ridiculous cycle based on whats good for the party, not the country.
The beginning of the next cycle is early 09.

Posted by: kctim at May 16, 2007 12:27 PM
Comment #220528

Stephen
We can go back forth all day long as to which partys platform better represents the majority of the peoples views, but we both know that the majority of Americans are center.
What you write about is a far more center approach than what the Dems in power have and far more centered than what their recent history has shown them to be.
I do not see them changing. They will keep up with high taxes, gun bans, abortion on demand, pissing off the Christians, appeasing our enemies etc… as long as the likes of pelosi, clinton, kennedy etc… are in control.

IF, you believe the current platform is what the people want, try and force it onto them again. You will get the same results of the 90s though.

Posted by: kctim at May 16, 2007 2:01 PM
Comment #220539

kctim-
You single out Pelosi, Clinton and Kennedy repeatedly, but you don’t take much note of others who are more moderate, or who haven’t been given that reputation. The Right’s insight on the politics of the left needs corrective lenses, because it’s fed itself the same propaganda again and again for years.

Democrats aren’t stupid. We’re not going to raise taxes will-nilly. We are, however, going to be willing to raise taxes when its necessary, unlike many on the right, who can’t even do it when the alternative is one of the biggest fiscal crises this nation has ever faced. Are taxes that bad for the country that we put our country on the national debt treadmill to avoid them? Sounds rather phobic a response to me. It’s certainly not the most pleasant thing to have to do, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet.

Gun bans seem unlikely, but moderate regulation would probably take the pressure off to go further. People just want to believe there are some moderate safeguards in place to make it difficult for criminals and madmen to arm themselves..

Abortion on demand? We’re flexible enough on that. We have candiates who are pro-life, and those who are pro-choice. We’ve softened our stance on the matter in a way that Republicans seem unwilling to do.

As for pissing off Christians? I am one. Some of my fellow Democrats do offend me with their comments, but I’m also offended at the way that a radically egalitarian, merciful, and charitable gospel message has been used to back an elitist, draconian, and stingy set of policy positions, and how so many have reduced the complex, robust moral discussion of the bible to abortion, opposition to gay rights, and the sticking of the government’s nose into religious matters.

As for the appeasement of enemies? Heavens to Betsy. One reason the public got so alienate on Iraq is that people constantly portrayed dissenters in that manner, never stopping to work out what people’s actual complaints and loyalties were. Folks may have had the best of intentions and loyalties taking that tack, but it nonetheless stands as one of the worst political underestimations of American’s character in modern history.

We ran our platform, and we won. Is agreement total with our sense of things? Not necessarily. But if we are willing to take a few risks and do a little convincing, we could sell people on many of these ideas. You can’t really get anywhere worth going in politics without changing folk’s mind. The road of playing it safe is the road of diminishing political returns.

Might we be wrong? Of course. But taking a lesson from Bush’s failures, I think we should learn when to take no as an answer, and return to center. Half the problem with Bush has been, is that he doesn’t respond maturely to public rejection of his policies.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2007 2:59 PM
Comment #220563

Stephen
I singled our pelosi, clinton and kennedy because they are in leadership positions and they make the news. Corrected lenses are not needed to see that liberal Dems such as them are spotlighted and real Democrats like Ike Skelton are disregarded until election time.

Your view of taxes is different than mine. Why is it always better to raise the taxes of working people rather than cutting ridiculous spending? If I find my budget getting tighter, I don’t demand a raise, I cut my spending. It’s really not that hard of a concept.

The left is flexible enough on abortion? Unlike the Republicans?
There are people on the far left who want abortion on demand and people on the far right who do not want abortion period. They are the ones who are not flexible. Saying Republicans in general are not willing to compromise is no different than saying all liberals hate the military. It is partisanship and wrong.

Pissing off Christians is a far-left thing. For some reason, they fear Christians more than radical muslims and use the same tactics they condemn when talking about gays, women, race or other religions.
Republicans took the liberals views of the Christian religion and morals, successfully attributed them to all Democrats and left you guys looking like atheists and deviants. I actually believe real Democrats could stop it. I do not agree with that statement at all.

Do you think the Dems took control because they ran on a far-left agenda or a moderate platform? Do you even acknowledge that there is a difference between the two?

You are correct, changing folk’s minds about the Democrats will keep them in power.
But you will only change their minds IF you change from a far-left party to a more moderate party which is more representive of the general population.
And to do that, you need to take lessons from clintons failures, not Bushs’.

Posted by: kctim at May 16, 2007 5:56 PM
Comment #220586

kctim-
I have seen the Republicans preach thriftiness and act as spendthrifts. Since they don’t have the guts to stick to cutting spending, they should have the guts in compensation to ask Americans to cover their extra spending. If they aren’t going to hold to their fiscal conservatism, why should they hold their tax rebellion in any higher regard? Holding onto tax cuts while spending takes them into deficit territory was an act of political cowardice, and it doesn’t deserve to be defended.

The Republican party, to please the Christian Right makes it practically an article of faith that people have to oppose abortion. Only Guiliani had the guts to do anything like supporting pro-choice, and even he tripped up a little bit on that in one of the debates. The rest, including historically pro-choice Mitt Romney have submitted to that doctrine. I am not saying that Republicans are all pro-life. I’m saying that there is a strong force out there surpressing pro-choice voices and weeding them out.

As for Christians? What scares people is the authoritarian mixing of religion and politics, people taking up worldly positions on economic, taxation, and aggressiveness in business practices as if they were part and parcel of taking up the gospel. That is also what leads many in my part to believe that the religion is a facade, that they do not preach the gospel, much less practice it properly.

I know from experience that this stereotyped view is false for many, but when the face for many of Christian religion is self-assured self-righteous hypocrisy, drenched in politics, then its easy to get that misapprehension. It’s only gotten worse with the Bush administration, where one of the worst presidents in recent history is also one of the most religious. When church and state intersect, the reputation of one affects the other. If the state becomes unpopular, loathed, associated with immoral and unethical behavior, how does that reflect on religion.

I think the Democrats took over because the Republicans wore out people’s patience on almost every level.

I believe the polls demonstrate that there are many areas where we and the American people are largely in agreement, so we could score easy points just by doing what comes naturally. As for your condition for us convincing others? Even if it did apply in any binding fashion, I think our part hardly qualifies as far left. It’s a coalition, with leftward elements and centrists. The major difference is that the Democrats don’t mind being moderates. They’re not so keen on being doctrinaire. It really is impossible in this country to maintain a majority without appealing to a range of folks. The Poll results show that Democrats appeal to folks much better at this moment than their competitors.

I don’t pretend this is permanent, or owing to some special inherent quality. I believe we will have to work in order to keep this up. I just don’t agree with you that we will have to shift further right to broaden our appeal. I don’t think it would help, especially not when the right is so unpopular

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2007 9:20 PM
Comment #220636

Stephen
I don’t care if the Republcians are “spendthrifts,” I am not defending their tax policy. I believe we need massive tax and spending cuts and neither the Dems or Reps support that.

I totally agree that the far-right anti abortion people have taken center stage for the Republicans. They have done so the same way the abortion no matter what people have taken center stage for the Democrats.

I honestly do not see how this administration has been pushing religion onto us.

The leadership of the Democratic party are far-left Stephen and the most prominent orgs which throw their support behind the Democratic party are as well.

“I just don’t agree with you that we will have to shift further right to broaden our appeal”

I believe the Dem platform is too far left. When I first came to WatchBlog 3 some years ago, I said this and that I believe if Dems wanted to win more elections, they would have to have moderate candidates, not liberals.
Now, I surely am not a political genius or claim to be able to see the future. But, I do think that I have a good grasp of what the common American likes when it comes to govt. And if the Dems want success at the polls like the Reps had, they will continue to run moderates.

And lastly, it is the progress of post-war operations that has made the right “so unpopular.” Don’t get me wrong, the lefts propaganda about Bush lying, 9-11, Iraq, Katrina etc… had some affect on a few people, but it is the post-war stalemate that most people have grown weary of.

Posted by: kctim at May 17, 2007 10:04 AM
Comment #220679

kctim-
I’m talking about what these people are actually doing, and what actually should be done, and you’re talking about political labels.

What does it matter whether a tax policy is left or right, when it doesn’t pay for itself. If Americans don’t like that more spending brings them more taxes, then it’s a lot easier to drum up anger against that spending than when deficit spending keeps it a book-keeping abstraction.

In real world terms, we have to balance the budget if we wish to restore responsible spending. It provides a natural, intuitive threshold to defend.

As for who’s support has gone to the Democrats? Well part of my concern is that it’s all the same people who threw their support to the Republicans, and who come bearing gifts to our candidates, in return for favors later.

As for pushing religion? Faith-Based initiatives, flooding the government and its management with civil servants, often inexperienced, whose alma maters are basically bible colleges. Pushing for Intelligent design, sticking biblical material at national parks and excluding material that offers a natural science’s view of it. Constant references to God in speeches, codewords put in directed towards evangelicals, and their politicization on Bush’s behalf. The emphasis on abortion and against gay rights. He’s pushed religion to a degree no other president before him has in modern times.

What’s killed the Republicans isn’t just the war, it’s justifying Bush and his administration’s actions. People’s frustrations have built up on every level. Iraq and Katrina are just the points where the outrage got fierce enough and unresolved enough to permanently shift opinion against the Bush administration. Yet even after that, the Republicans and even many of you who call yourselves independent have been defending him.

It’s not the politics driving these political changes, it’s the fact that people care about what’s being screwed up, and it’s being screwed up with continual excuses, continual rationalization, and little remorse.

Unfortunately, the right has gotten use to looking at everything in terms of politics. There’s more to this country, and its political behavior, than just the campaigning, the point/counterpoint, the rhetoric and everything else. It does you no good to have a righteous political attitude if you can’t handle the governing issues that give you credibility and patience with people. You have to prove that your policies, put into actual action, won’t cripple the country.

Unfortunately for you, the Republicans have done a good job of demonstrating otherwise. It could yet be provent, but it’s not going to happen if the policies are applied so foolishly and inconsistency.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2007 10:03 PM
Comment #220734

Stephen
Political labels are how you guys vote.
What does party matter if tax policy doesn’t pay for itself is exactly the problem.
The right doesn’t cut spending and doesn’t mind going into debt to pay for a war.
The left would rather raise taxes and add more govt programs than cut spending.
Labels are important in this because you guys don’t mind over spending when its done by your party.

In real world terms, you do not cut pay and punish the people in order to pay off debt. You quit spending more than you have.

Your religious conspiracy angle is solely based on your left leanings.
I found myself wondering why clinton pandered to religious figures all the time.

Justifying Bush is hardly what has hurt the Reps. The ones doing all the justifying are the same ones who voted for him and would again.

And not believing every conspiracy theory and not blaming Bush for EVERY single thing that goes wrong in the world, is NOT defending him.
Neither is it defending him when we ask why you care about all this corruption now, when you didn’t in the past.
It is this hypocrisy that makes you assume everybody who doesn’t believe as you is defending Bush.
We know that it is not the actions that piss you off, it is the party. And by knowing that, we know that the corruption, rights violations etc… will not change but the ones complaining about it will.

Unfortunately for the country, the Dems and Reps have “my party no matter what” supporters and things are not going to change until they get alot worse.

Posted by: kctim at May 18, 2007 12:44 PM
Comment #220837

kctim-
You tell me so much is a result of my left leanings. Why do I bother to tell you about my fiscal conservatism, my pragmatism concerning military policy, or any of my other centrist or even right leaning views? Why do I bother to tell you about my own personal religious convictions?

There’s a reason Democrats have got quite a bit angrier and more aggressive. Three decades of paying homage to the Reagan revolution have gotten neither us or the country anywhere. Clinton was part of a Center Left/Conservative wing of the party known as the DLC. His people intentionally skewed further to the right, and this worked somewhat- but only somewhat. Trouble was, the Republicans occupied the niche better, lessening the rewards for goign any further to the right.

I don’t think that the real change in what the Democrats did last year was going further to right or center. I think what happened is that we appealed to the members of that section of the population in more district, rather than merely go for the safe seats and the swing states. We also have broad based dissatisfaction with Bush and his people that goes far beyond the political sphere.

I think the country’s been through a lot, and a certain point, people stop seeing failures of leadership as disappointments, and they start seeing them as threats. Iraq demonstrates that amply in foreign policy. Katrina, Enron, the Deficit, the healthcare crisis, the economy as it appears to those in the middle and lower classes-all have helped to push people past the point where it seems to be just politics to them.

You chalk the strength of the country’s reaction to our political push. That’s not what gave it strength. It’s not conspiracy theories. Look on the news. We got a bloody pointless war, hundreds of billions of dollars of deficit spending, an economy that doesn’t seem to trickle down far enough, healthcare that doesn’t even meet the needs of those who have it- These are things that are right in people’s faces. Are they supposed to remain neutral about things, in the face of such troubles?

It’s not the parties people care about. The politics is secondary to most people. The real problem for those on the Right, the Republicans, and potentially for my own party is that people have become far more interested in what’s really going on, and that any party that tries to bubble itself away from that is going to get itself hurt.

That’s my whole point. If you read what I’ve written, at length, repetitively, you should ask yourself if this was all partisan lies, why I would bother to defend my views so persistently, instead of moving on.

Why can’t the Republicans and others on the right take anybody else’s word for what they believe? Why do they have to put words in our mouths and always act like we’re subversives trying to destroy the country?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 19, 2007 1:33 PM
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