Skip to main content

View Diary: The Good Fight: Peter Beinart Responds (221 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Beinart acknowledges his central error. . . (0+ / 0-)

    . . . in talking about the politics of all this when he says: "Armando talks more about Democrats; I talk more about liberals--which bespeaks a difference. For me, the vision of society is primary; parties are merely institutions to incarnate that."

    Beinart is arguing that the Democrats should become more like Republicans.  That is, that they should construct an ideological party.  For Republicans, this means start with the conservatives and the rest have to tag along.  For Democrats, in Beinart's world, start with the liberals and the rest have to tag along.

    Beinart's view, common in DC, reflects a deep misunderstanding of Democratic politics and history.  (He needs to spend more time reading the insightful demographic stuff Chris Bowers and others have been putting up at MyDD, or perhaps Kevin Phillips' latest book.)  The Democratic "party" has always been and will always be a much more diverse coalition than the Republian party.  Its foreign policy-making will always come about differently, thank God.

    Republicans today are essentially a homogeneous party of white conservative Christians, mostly evangelical Protestants but also conservative Catholics.  There are dribs and drabs of conservative Jews, libertarians, Latinos, Blacks, and so on.  Republicans are thus far more likely than Democrats to take ideological rather than pragmatic or negotiated approaches to policy.  Thus, the current self-destructive utopianism in Iraq and Iran, and the blind inability to learn from experience.  Thus, the fixation of Republicans on slogans and simple answers, on talk-radio rants rather than pragmatic problem-solving.

    Liberals never have and never will have the same kind of policy dominance in the Democratic party that the current batch of "conservatives" have in the Republican party.  Liberals will always have to negotiate with the other factions of the party in devising foreign policy and that's a good thing.  Read James Madison: pluralism and negotiation are good.  They force us to develop less utopian and more pragmatic policies.  We Democrats are thus far less likely to go off half-cocked on some utopian adventure than Republicans.  Liberals (including me) have to find a foreign policy other Democrats will agree to support.

    Beinart trashes liberals he disagrees with, but he ignores the fact that Democratic liberals are always  presenting their views in the context of broader arguments within the Democratic coalition.  To take them out of that context -- as I think he does here and in his book -- is to miss much of the conversation, and to misunderstand the prospects for a pragmatic and successful Democratic foreign policy.

    Most Americans have had a belly-ful of simplistic slogan politics and blind ideological utopians running our foreign policy.  Democrats should not try to put together an alternative set of simplistic slogans for an alternative blind ideological utopianism.  We should try to negotiate among ourselves to develop a pragmatic foreign policy that can get us out of this mess.

    So, to sum it up, Armando is right.  Beinart doesn't get the politics of the situation, which is everything.  He only wants to talk about policy, and he only wants to talk about policy with liberals rather than Democrats at large.

    That's a dumb conversation and besides, Beinart has disqualified himself from it long ago by demonstrating over and over in the last five years that he is a bone-headed policy thinker.  Anybody who supported the Iraq war as he did is disqualified from ever being taken seriously in a foreign policy discussion.


    "The enemy is not conservatism. The enemy is not liberalism. The enemy is bu**sh**." --Lars-Eric Nelson (r.i.p.)

    by DFLer on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 08:58:05 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site