Democrats & Liberals Archives

One World, No Matter How Many Parties You Count.

How many of us have talked with somebody nice, dealt with somebody helpful, only to be shocked to find out their politics are different from our own? And why is that a shock? One of the unfortunate side effects of how vicious politics has gotten is that we’ve forgotten how little space politics occupies in the real world interactions of most people. For many, politics doesn’t run that deep. Perhaps that’s why gridlock like this aggravates so many people nowadays, and why our politics clogged congress is so unpopular.

One of my basic political principles is that this system is not built to suit the idiosyncratic visions of what our individual factions might want. This system was built to encourage people to put aside their differences, and focus on what they could agree were the country's interests.

The gridlock wasn't meant to last. It's meant to be the political equivalent of "UR doing it wrong". Now many Democrats and Liberals, especially after years of getting beaten down about their politics, aren't too happy about compromising with the Republicans.

But Republicans? For Republicans in Washington, it seems Democrats are not just rivals, but an evil to be vanquished. If you mention that they're only doing what their constituents want, they'll counter that then the constituents must be evil, and so starts this cycle of demonization.

And Democrats? It becomes "turnabout is fair play." It's not as bad as the Republicans yet, in my opinion, but it could become just as bad.

And it is bad. If the prerequisite of cooperation and compromise for any side is that the other side simply folds completely, then we won't see the end of this for some time. The question, though, is whether or not this has to be our reaction to each other. It doesn't, and it shouldn't be.

By quirk of biology, relating to other people is more difficult for me, so I know better than most the pain and suffering that comes with such alienation, and it mystifies me why people would willingly inflict this on themselves. Not only that, but my hardcore pragmatism, which comes from my preference for concrete results tells me that it serves nobody well to become a political pure core of a minority. Sure, everybody agrees with you, but in the real world, there aren't so many people who think exactly like you as you might think. That's why Republicans are having such a hard time choosing a candidate. They fail to see that some compromise on their part would allow them to set aside disagreements between different factions in the party, and take advantage of the political weaknesses on the left. Instead of offering a strong candidate despite a few of those candidate's positions, they're fully willing to cast that fellow aside, just to get the politically pure fellow they want.

What they're finding, though, is that even as they try to avoid compromise, it's being forced on them. With deadlines fast approaching or already passed, they're stuck with candidates who either are uninspiring to the base, or unnerving for the general public.

That is the price of putting the ambition of political purity and hostility towards the impure above everything else.

Out there in the real world, out here around my neck of the woods, it seems to me that the world itself is hostile to these notions of purity. If you are a Republican, does that make you racist? Not so much as I can see. Are the conservatives out there not so nice as others? Not that I can tell. Do they have to be dogmatic about creationism and biblical literalism? No. I know that for sure, having attended Baylor University, which taught neither while I was there.

I don't discuss politics with strangers as much as I once did. I find myself, on occasion, wondering whether I'm speaking with a conservative, or something, but something inhibits that impulse. It's begun to occur to me that between a person's politics and the rest of them, it's who they are in their day to day lives that matters more in the end. People often take a certain political direction because they don't feel they have a choice, or because of the politics of the household they were brought up in. They may truly believe something in that politics, but their other beliefs may not square with it.

If somebody helps you with a flat tire, or shows you how to better rig your sailboat, is it worth emphasizing the differences with them?

It's so easy in these time to feel threatened by these differences, to escalate political battles, but this wasn't a system built to suit that kind of unchecked political discord. We have majority-rules congresses and a President with veto power so that all concerned are forced to focus on the general interests of the country, the ones that most of the politicians can agree are real, pressing, and urgent.

Also, though, it was intended that our political differences play themselves out in the government. It just wasn't intended that they become the reason nothing works. Put simply, the system was deliberately designed so that people could get their grievances and differences aired. So what's the problem with what's happening now?

The problem is that there is a pathway to the resolution of those problems that one side is deliberately not taking. Rather than using those differences as bargaining points to gain concessions, the Republicans today are using them as cause to absolutely refuse any action or program that doesn't follow their ideological standards, whether or not the voters gave them the mandate to do so or not. I mean, if their taking over The House of Representatives was meant to be a mandate, what was the complete victory in Congress and the winning of the Presidency by the other party?

That's the hypocrisy of the Republicans at this point in time. Voters gave them less of a mandate than they did the Democrats, yet somehow they think that the Public is more on their side when it comes to making big political moves. The recent success of a referendum repealing an anti-union measure in Ohio should tell them something.

The politicians can't just be cardboard cut-outs of their voters' beliefs, because if that's all they are, they run the risk of ghettoizing those beliefs into a minority in the voting public and the various congress's and legislatures. Just look at the deals that got watered down and bogged down in political quagmires over the last year. Bills got more liberal, more favorable to Democrats, because the Tea Party took its votes and stomped on home.

It's a matter of majorities, really, and the fact that it doesn't matter whether a majority is party line or not. The pressure to be as conservative as possible doesn't help any, because it makes for rather inflexible negotiations, and those in turn make for rivals who know they have nothing to gain by making concessions your way. It doesn't help if you try to use necessity to force compromise in your favor. It neither makes you popular, nor better positioned to dictate terms, as you are put on the spot just as much as the other fellow. While Democrats couldn't afford to be the ones to let the the debt ceiling go unraised, Republicans couldn't afford to let it go, either.

The way the Republicans are going, really, all they are succeeding in doing, at best, is getting both side drowned in the mud puddle of unpopularity. Their legislative record can and will be legitimately attacked as do-nothing, as their diva-like attitude has kept them from being able to negotiate the bills that can pass. They handwave this by talking about how important, how crucial for saving the world their political purity is, but the fact of the matter is, what passes is what changes the law, and this Congress, for all its bluster, has failed to change much, despite it's large array of controversial bills.

The regular people out here, for the most part, can get along both to enjoy their lives, and to work and do good for themselves and others. While some people like us might put a great focus on their party business, this is inside baseball to most people, and they're more disposed to ask the basic questions that affect them at a basic level.

This is a sane attitude to have. We want real leadership, not just an insistence on getting one's political way at all costs. We want people who pay attention to the consequences, and seem interested in the real world effects of things.

For some, the question out there is how they can get more of their politics into the way people conduct their everyday lives. For millions, the question is how they can get through the thick skull of their governments, and get them to deal with the problems people really care about, that people are truly distressed about.

The politicians in Washington ought not to be on the wrong side of those concerns.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at November 6, 2011 11:55 PM
Comments
Comment #331689

Ah Stephen. A partisan post about how the average Joe wants bi-partisanship. Nice.

Do you know why liberals are seen as “an evil to be vanquished?” It’s because they use legislation to force individuals to live how liberals think is best. Liberals place the desires of society ahead of the rights of the individual, which works fine for urban areas where desire trumps rights, but now that liberalism is ‘branching out,’ it is being resisted by those of us who do NOT believe desire trumps rights.

While liberals elect their reps to get them something, those of us on the right elect our reps to PROTECT our rights. This is what causes the ‘gridlock’ you speak of.

The recent success of a referendum repealing an anti-union measure in Ohio should tell us something? Well, it does tell me that it was rushed to be voted on during an off year where the people with the most to lose were union members. Wonder how the referendum would do with more average people showing up to vote for it alongside their reps and President? Probably just speculation on my part eh.

What isn’t speculation though, is why did you fail to mention the “voters mandate” on the Obama healthcare plan? That was a pretty big “political move,” wasn’t it?

Posted by: kctim at November 9, 2011 11:16 AM
Comment #331729

kctim-
Oh, so I have to be completely neutral to say that folks might not vote strictly according to our rigid political ideologies?

Look, I’ve long told my fellow Democrats that we have to make compromises to get things passed in the real world. I am a committed Democrat who acknowledges that not everybody’s a committed Democrat, and we can’t just bully people into supporting what we want, to make our policies into the sustained policy of our country.

We have to recruit the folks who have to be convinced on other than political grounds. This is where I think Democrats have the advantage, and Republicans, especially with the Tea Party ascendant, are at a disadvantage.

We’re not an evil to be vanquished, additionally, and your description is oversimplified and cariacture. We simply don’t have your faith that the market will make everything right, and time and time again, our less idealized view has been proved right.

You might want gridlock, but the rest of us find this the worst possible time to engage in it. It may be right up your alley, but most Americans think that the current state of things, the way we have it now, is undesirable.

As far as the mandate goes, it’s always been the most unpopular part of Healthcare Reform, the way vegetables have long been the most unpopular part of dinner, and taxes have never been truly beloved. Now we could do something better, but unfortunately, you have too many people looking at something better as socialism, so we went with what was and is the old conservative idea of the mandate.

So, in a certain sense, this isn’t the rejection of a liberal approach, but the conservative one, albeit one that Democrats chose as an alternative.

Also, it’s been pointed out that it was intended to bring out conservatives to the polls. If you’re claiming that not enough came out, then the question is why, a year after the magnificent victory, the Tea Party is suddenly sucking air on the matter. Why did they stay home?

At the very least, conservatives did not understand their electorate very well.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 9, 2011 11:22 PM
Comment #331741

I have to say that I think the more religious you grow up then the more ‘me-centric’ your outlook on everything is. The almighty one loves you without bounds (yes you); you will spend eternity with Jesus.

When the universe revolves around you, compromise is tough.

Posted by: Schwamp at November 10, 2011 9:55 AM
Comment #331747

Stephen
Liberals have been bullying people into accepting what they want for a long time now and people are tired of it. We have gone from helping widows and orphans to providing for all and many have had enough.
The ‘gridlock’ isn’t due to an unwillingness to compromise, it is due to there being nothing left to compromise.

Take the HCR fiasco. You say many people are looking at “something better” as being socialism, but that is only true if you are the one defining “something better” and you want to compromise using only that definition.
That is not how it works my friend. Many of us still believe rights and freedoms are most important.

We don’t want gridlock, we want to be left the freak alone. To live our lives as we believe, not as you believe.

“As far as the mandate goes, it’s always been the most unpopular part of Healthcare Reform”

But yet, liberals keep pushing for universal healthcare or a public option, which are only possible through strict government mandate.

In a certain sense? Funny.
Here’s the thing: In an election more than likely dominated by unions, liberals and Democrats, the liberal administration approved government mandate was rejected by those most likely to support one. The TP is irrelevent here.
Seems somebody else really doesnt understand their electorate very well either.

Posted by: kctim at November 10, 2011 2:31 PM
Comment #331748

Schwamp
I am an atheist. I believe in personal responsibility and individual freedom, or “me-centric” as you call it.

Liberals love to shout that our founders were deitists. Our founders wrote a document that protected individual rights, freedoms and limited government. Again, as you say “me-centric.”

Religion has nothing to do with it, especially seeing how the religious are some of the most charitable people.

Instead of putting down religion, maybe you should ask yourself which is more ‘me-centric:’

The person who helps their neighbor?
OR
The person who insists government helps their neighbor for them?

Posted by: kctim at November 10, 2011 2:43 PM
Comment #331749

Schwamp-
That’s a bit too much of a generalization for my tastes. The better way to put it is that God loves everybody, so you better do well by everybody else.

What’s making compromise tough for Republicans is that to motivate people they framed everything in terms of a confrontation between the forces of good and evil. No prizes for guessing who they assign the different roles.

Problem is, not everybody shares their opinion about who’s good or evil. So, they’re left having to browbeat and battle everybody to get anything done their way. Their idea of things only works efficiently if they got all the pieces, which voters haven’t seen fit to give them.

The further problem is, having decided that any compromise is evil, they leave themselves either the option of sitting on their butts, which works for many bills, or being forced to make desperate deals at the last second, perhaps with the Tea Party votes absent, that add Democratic party members to the majority in order to pass something.

If they’re not careful, what they might succeed in doing is carving out a nice, permanent (or at least long lasting) Niche on the side of American politics, with everybody else pulled to the left. When you can’t compromise, you can’t form real alliances with those who want less than you want, or differently.

Republicans need to realize that this nation’s politics are going to moderate with them or without them, and that it would be best for them if it’s moderated with them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 10, 2011 2:51 PM
Comment #331751


Schwamp, I think you are blaming religion for a product of the conservative mind.

Stephen, huge tax cuts for the wealthy during the Reagan Administration, combined with massive spending, especially defence spending, resulting in a massive U.S. debt.

More than three decades of stagnated wages and a growing disparity in wealth.

A phenomenon known as two big to fail and a huge increase in government subsidies for corporations, including incentives to move manufacturing jobs overseas and the illegal importation of millions of illegal low wage workers.

More huge tax breaks for the wealthy, a doubling of the national debt, a massive housing scam and a busted economy during the Bush Administration.

All of it achieved in an atmosphere of deregulation.

All of this can be contributed to what the Democratic party calls compromise and the Republicans call capitulation.

And, the reelection money played no role in the results.

Kctim, the liberals hold no edge on conservatives when it comes to a desire to force their will on the population as a whole. If that desire makes liberals an evil to be vanquished, then it is equally true of conservatives.

Posted by: jlw at November 10, 2011 2:57 PM
Comment #331752

JLW
Perhaps you can share what you believe has been forced upon you and the population as a whole?
I know I can and I guarantee it’s not as “equally true” as some pretend it to be.


I would like to clear up my words though. It is liberalism that is “evil,” not liberals themselves.

Posted by: kctim at November 10, 2011 3:19 PM
Comment #331767
Perhaps you can share what you believe has been forced upon you and the population as a whole?

Suburbanization, an economy based upon fossil fuel combustion, Judeo-Christian moral values, etc

Posted by: Warped Reality at November 10, 2011 8:55 PM
Comment #331785

kctim-
Has it occured to you that if you can dictate all the things that we cannot have our government do, like providing for the relief of poverty, old age insurance, etc., then you have stepped over the line and done exactly to us what you hate being done to yourself?

It is nobody’s right in this country to have the laws and use of tax dollars exclusively tailored to what they think is right. That is something we have to fight for, argue over, rather than be handed on a silver platter.

If you tell me you don’t believe in helping the poor with your tax dollars, fine. You’re entitled to that opinion.

But being entitled to your opinion doesn’t mean you’re entitled to see it manifest in our government. That you have to earn, through whatever changes in legal jurisprudence, public opinion, and legislation in Congress is necessary.

Your side tends to take its own propaganda about what kind of people we are way too seriously, to the point that we hear something far different than you do when you make those remarks and fling those barbs. You hear hard-hitting truth, I hear the typical eye-roll inducing cariacture that doesn’t come close to speaking of what we actually believe and value.

You use the word “socialism” to basically describe anything liberal you don’t agree with. The irony is, your own conservative thinktanks came up with many of the things you call socialist, and the capitalist inclination of those organizations is branded in the mechanism.

I mean, the mandate basically forces people to buy insurance, but it forces them to do so on the private market, rather than setting up a system that is governemnt run.

Cap and Trade, which gets called socialist, too, was a product of conservative think-tanks, which were interested in an alternative to the government setting fixed limits on pollution. It basically is supposed to work by means of market forces, as those who are efficient in reducing a pollutant create a market for selling off that pollution they don’t give off to those who can afford to pay more to pollute. It actually worked to reduce sulfur emissions and acid rain.

Long story short, these things are being opposed because liberals have said yes to them. Essentially, policies that were once acceptable to Republicans are being thrown over the side because they’ve become acceptable to the other side. Republicans are not so much standing on principle, as they are running away from being anything like their oppposition, even when the similarity is created by those on the left saying yes to their ideas.

Democrats are compromising and have compromised over the last few decades, seeking to better occupy the center, rather than concentrate the party’s main support mainly in its base. Unfortunately, Republicans have done their best to concentrate their politics towards the right. The Tea Party is the apotheosis of that. It’s the Republicans at their most opposed to finding common ground with the Democrats. It’s the Republicans at their highest unwillingness to listen to anybody else. It’s Republicans at their most strident level of support for the party’s Bush-era positions. (positions, as opposed to policies)

The Tea Party is the Republican Party trying to detach itself from the legislative legacy of the Gingrich revolution, and the executive legacy of the Bush Administration, without discarding the underlying politics from which emerged so much of the party’s failure and dysfunction. That is its fatal flaw, really.

The rest of the Republican Party follows them, essentially, because they have trouble saying no to the ideological element in the party, which has been given so much free reign to determine the party’s positions, and punish those who fail to adhere to them.

Such selective forces are present in political parties to a certain extent, but they have been pushed to their extremes in the GOP. The question is, can they hold enough of the center in various places to consistently win elections. I think the behavior of the Republican party, as of late, is making that difficult, and the purist attitude towards that politics makes it difficult for them to adapt.

I mean, essentially, these moderating forces will likely force them to pick Mitt Romney as their candidate, a man who takes the “flip-flop” argument brutally used against John Kerry, and provides a real, and really inconsistent man to be its target. The funny thing is, the guy would have been a lot less inconsistent if he had simply been allowed to be a moderate Republican from Massachussetts. Unfortunately, such a critter has little hope of actually placing, much less finishing the Republican Primary these days.

Obama, despite his reputation as a far lefty among Republicans, is actually quite centrist. He gets his reputation because he openly advocates certain liberal ideas that weren’t getting much play before 2006, but his willingness to compromise all sorts of issues was telegraphed in multiple speeches, and his best known speeches. It’s a quality that’s not always appreciated among liberals, but it hasn’t become the disqualifier that being a compromiser has become in Republican politics.

As far as religion goes? I believe that the track record of success of those who try and remove dissent in their society to a certain position is simply atrocious. You can’t kill ideas and symbols quite so well, and the steps it takes to expunge cultural memory of these things usually end up creating other chaotic forces in their place, even if they succeed.

To wit, I believe attempts to expunge liberalism will either make the conservatives who engage in it so unsympathetic as to lose power (and therefore fail), or if successful will merely create the conditions and the demand in the market place of ideas for a replacement, one which might be worse.

What conservatism is unwilling to face, unwilling to deal with in our society and in our government will create demand in the public for a movement that is willing to deal with those things.

That’s what I think your movement badly misunderstands. People will not just sit around while those deficiencies remain unanswered, especially in a democracy like ours. Like it or not, liberals and Democrats represent a certain line of thinking that is common in Americans today, and if we aren’t allowed to express it at least somewhat, if we’re not even allowed enough influence over policy to honestly fail, if conservatives insist that everything must go their way despite all the failures of the system as they built it, then all that the Republicans and conservatives will have succeeded in doing is making those who eventually succeed them all the more popular for doing so.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 11, 2011 9:38 AM
Comment #331798

Warped
People actually choose for the first two and I cannot recall a law dictating what their “choice” is going to be.

Yes, there probably are some Judeo-Christian values in there somewhere. I don’t dwell on it nor fear Christianity so I can’t point it out off the top of my head though.

I’m curious though, what is the difference between forcing people to help in the name of God and forcing people to help in the name of ‘government?’

Posted by: kctim at November 11, 2011 1:49 PM
Comment #331801

SD
My call for respecting individual rights does NOT keep you from providing relief for poverty, old age insurance etc… In order for them to be the same thing, I would have to be calling for how you cannot help to be dictated to you.
My way does not force you to do anything you do not want or accept beliefs you do not approve of.
Good try though.

I don’t want any laws or money tailored to what I think is right, I want freedom of choice.

I have no false belief that I am entitled to see freedom of choice come back to our country without legal action.

Liberalisms own actions show what it is Stephen. It needs no propaganda to help people see anything.
Instead of rolling your eyes when people question you, maybe you should try to understand them and attempt to prove them wrong. Expalin to them why they are wrong to believe that liberals believe and value their version of society over the rights of the individual.

I use the word socialism to describe socialism, nothing more, nothing less.

“I mean, the mandate basically forces people to buy insurance, but it forces them to do so on the private market, rather than setting up a system that is governemnt run.”

You are barking up the wrong tree again, Stephen. A government mandate that takes away individual rights is wrong. Doesn’t matter if it is for public or private.
Here’s the thing though Stephen, I will stand right next to liberals who complain about the government mandate to buy private insurance, but they sure as hell won’t stand with me to protest the government mandate to buy public insurance.

Cap and Trade is nothing more than government controlling behavior while also making a profit.

Yes yes. The Republicans don’t want to compromise, democrats do BS.
Passing liberal legislation by saying it is a Republican idea is no longer working. People are tired of government dictating how they live, doesn’t matter if Romney or the Obama bring it up.

The Obama has been forced to be centrist. He either compromises or he gets nothing. If he had a super majority, this country would be well on its way to being just another plain old European country.

We will never expunge liberalism Stephen. There are way to many now dependent on it in order to live and they will never vote or fight against it. It was a great plan.

The main problem our country faces is the continuous assault on those who still believe in our Constitution and our countrys exceptionalism. The quest to accomplish this can only eventually lead to a very violent time.

You see Stephen, the movement to respect rights and freedoms is as old as our country. A country founded on the principles of individualism and limited government. There are still way too many people to just shut up and accept that those things no longer matter.
Again, using the desires of society to take away individual rights was a brilliant move, but it does not work on enough people yet for you to claim victory.

Posted by: kctim at November 11, 2011 2:46 PM
Comment #331873

kctim-
If I’m not mistaken, you’re always talking about how you don’t want to pay for charity through the government to somebody else. I don’t know, I was just expecting a schematically consistent argument here.

But why should I expect from the headwaters what the watershed did not bring to the river? Are we distinguishing one one kind of charity from another, saying that it’s alright for government to do one, but not the other?

You’re right you won’t expunge liberalism. It is not a thing to be expunged, it’s an opinion to be had, and one that conservatism and other ideologies have to compete with by showing results.

You talk about assaulting those who believe in our constitution, but really, that’s just what you’re doing. They just believe differently, but to you different might as well be not believing at all. I at least acknowledge that however much I may disagree with or be unable to understand your opinion, you have a right to it.

This isn’t meant to be a struggle with permanent winners, because things change in the real world, people change, folks figure out they’re mistaken, etc. Nobody’s got the imagination to get it all right in their head, once and for all. We are all human, and none of us are Gods above others.

I believe that American exceptionalism doesn’t come from blind faith in our exceptionalism. That’s the kind of exceptionalism that a hundred banana republics, dictatorships large and small and other failed nations have employed. No, that wouldn’t make America exceptional, that would just give us their kind of ego.

Real exceptionalism here comes from the fact that we let people think and believe more of what comes naturally to them, and then let the marketplace of ideas work its magic.

You sound like somebody who insists that this has to be a battle to the finish, but I have faith in America, even if through crude trial and error to correct it’s path, without the aid of the self-righteous. I believe we can restore our nation’s prosperity and prestige without having to kill each other in the process, without one party trying to take over and outlaw the sentiments it does not agree with.

I don’t believe the Democrats alone, much less the purest of them, have to be the ones to save the country from itself. I don’t believe I have to destroy your political movement to defeat it, and that makes my politics stronger than yours.

I won’t have to deny what’s come before to change what is to come. You? You’re too busy opposing Cap and Trade and the Mandate to appreciate that they weren’t liberal to start with, but conservative, and that all your opposition comes from the simple fact that your side has made it a rule to oppose whatever folks like us say, even when its something you yourselves put forward.

That’s a party backing itself into a corner, not recovering its footing. If you can’t even take yes for an answer on your own policy compromises, then there won’t long be incentive for people to compromise or chase your extreme policies any longer. If your only offered compromise is “Do it my way or else,” sooner or later there’s going to be a rebellion.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 12, 2011 12:17 AM
Comment #331918
People actually choose for the first two and I cannot recall a law dictating what their “choice” is going to be.

You haven’t been paying attention. There are a plethora of government laws and regulations that modify people’s behavior which as resulted in our current population density patterns. One big government policy is the fact that it lets people who burn fossil fuels to ignore the external costs of that combustion. This acts as a subsidy for the fossil fuel industry. One governmental regulation that modifies our behavior is the mandate that owners of private residences and businesses provide free parking. The expanse of free parking spots is partly responsible for the suburbanization process.

I’m curious though, what is the difference between forcing people to help in the name of God and forcing people to help in the name of ‘government?’
There’s no difference at all. I’m not here to defend welfare programs. Posted by: Warped Reality at November 13, 2011 11:24 AM
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