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Conservatism has a bad rap around these parts. It's a concept generally associated with the right wing of the Republican Party, which is home to the some of the most odious policy ideas currently polluting our discourse and government. But what does it mean, really, to be conservative? Does it mean to be permanently staked out on the right fringe of of the GOP, regardless of what the party represents? Or does it mean that one favors the current order, and that any change should be measured and carefully considered?

I suppose that it means both those things, and a helluva lot more, besides. Words, especially adjectives, are tricky beasts to pin down, especially when they're primarily used in political contexts. But I raise the question because last night, Bush attacked Kerry's claim to have a conservative philosophy. Now, on one level -- the level that reflexively finds all of us labeling Bush, Delay, et al "conservatives" -- Bush's charge is on the mark. Kerry is no right-winger. But if you think about it for a second, and look at these folks in terms of their resistance to radical change, Kerry is clearly on to something when he describes himself as the conservative candidate. And when you consider Bush's presidency and governing philosophy, he doesn't appear very conservative at all. In fact, he's possibly the most radical presidential candidate since FDR.

More (lots more -- this probably oughta be edited) after the jump.

Kerry and Bush both came of political age in the late '60s, which was, at least on the domestic front, still very much a product of the radical changes wrought by FDR and the New Deal. FDR had challenged the plutocracy that had arisen in decades prior with an activist government, one that guaranteed something far more resembling a level playing field for all Americans, regardless of their origins. He and his administration created much of what we think of today as the basic structure of American civic life: a national pension scheme (Social Security), a minimum wage, govenment guarantees of fair treatment at work, regulation of the stock market and banking -- and his administration also put in place the conditions necessary for rapid unionization, which played perhaps the leading role in the creation of the largest middle class in American history. By the late '60s, it must have been difficult for someone in his early 20s to imagine how America looked before the New Deal. Post-New Deal America -- with its giant middle class and its cooperation between big business, government, and labor -- was the only America young Bush and Kerry had ever known.

As Paul Krugman, a man of the same generation as Bush and Kerry, wrote in his brilliant essay "For Richer,"
the America I grew up in -- the America of the 1950's and 1960's -- was a middle-class society, both in reality and in feel. The vast income and wealth inequalities of the Gilded Age had disappeared. Yes, of course, there was the poverty of the underclass -- but the conventional wisdom of the time viewed that as a social rather than an economic problem. Yes, of course, some wealthy businessmen and heirs to large fortunes lived far better than the average American. But they weren't rich the way the robber barons who built the mansions had been rich, and there weren't that many of them. The days when plutocrats were a force to be reckoned with in American society, economically or politically, seemed long past. Daily experience confirmed the sense of a fairly equal society. The economic disparities you were conscious of were quite muted. Highly educated professionals -- middle managers, college teachers, even lawyers -- often claimed that they earned less than unionized blue-collar workers. Those considered very well off lived in split-levels, had a housecleaner come in once a week and took summer vacations in Europe. But they sent their kids to public schools and drove themselves to work, just like everyone else.

Even the Nixon administration did little to disturb this entente cordial between labor and capital. But slowly, surely, a philosophy that was utterly opposed to this order began to take hold in the Republican party. The Goldwater radicals -- and they were radicals, as they sought to dismantle the system that had governed the nation for nearly three decades -- began to make gains among GOP members, particularly those disillusioned by the last act of the mid-century revolution, the civil rights movement. Reagan represented the radical insurrection, but he can't be said to be the culmination of it -- it fell to Bush to lead the final attack on the New Deal, and to restore the old order.

But Bush never knew the old order. He's not trying to bring the country back from a dangerous frolic begun by an immediate predecessor -- he's attempting to roll back a way of life that has persisted for 60 years. It's as if in the mid-1920s, Calvin Coolidge announced a plan to bring back slavery. That's not a conservative reaction to liberal excess -- that's a radical attempt to restore a long-dead institution. And that's exactly what Bush is doing when he guts the FLSA, when he seeks to essentially end Social Security and Medicare, and when he persists on a course that will inexorably lead to the end of safe, legal abortion. He is launching an assault on the pillars of the New Deal, in an attempt to resurrect a Gilded Age that predates even his father's adulthood. It's as radical a course as could be taken in this day and age. And it's not like Kerry is proposing any huge new government programs. He's looking to pretty much keep things the way they are, and have been for his entire life. That's fundamentally conservative. Bush's agenda, by contrast, is that of a radical who hates the institutions of the nation in which he was raised.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:20 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Conservativism Doesn't Care About Our Health... (none)
    JEERS - Pfizer Ends Discount Card for Elderly...536 low-income seniors will lose access to discounted cards to purchase meds from the nation's largest pharmaceutical company.

    Bush didn't bother to mention this in his compassionate conservative speech last night, did he?

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Meade

    by ilona on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:23:58 AM PDT

  •  clinton (none)
    NEWS ALERT
    Former President Bill Clinton Had a Heart Attack and Is in a New York Hospital (12:20 PM ET)

    People are terrible. They can bear anything.

    by soulfrieda on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:28:49 AM PDT

  •  not just to the 1920s (none)
    but to the 1890s. there are now right-wingers advocating returning the electin of senators to the state legislators (guaranteeing the kind of plotocratic, corrupt senate that existed between the civil and first world wars) and repealing the income tax amendment, perhaps replacing it with a natinoal sales tax (a very regressive tax.)

    non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

    by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:30:23 AM PDT

    •  Right (none)
      I used to think the GOP wanted to build a bridge to the 19th century. But I was wrong. They want to go back to the 17th century. Puritan England, and Puritan Massachusetts Bay, are their true models.

      "you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one" - Lennon

      by eugene on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:39:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  wrong colony (none)
        puritan new england was too anti-capitalists. colonial virginia, perhaps -- with fundamentalism replacing anglicanism as the mandatory religion. (jefferson counted religious liberty in virginia one of his proudest accomplishments)

        non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

        by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:46:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Colonies (3.50)
          was what came to mind during Shrub's speech last night. He wants to roll us back to something he probably only knows from grade-school coloring books and his role as the turkey in the school play.

          Need a bumper sticker?
          Bush/Cheney '04: Thanks for Not Paying Attention!

          by mugsimo on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:11:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Barbadian Pirates (none)
            Now that the "Southernist Party" is riding the Republican Party to what they expect will be national power, their committment to the old piratical worldview of the Barbadian Pirates who settled in Charleston S.C. after being driven out of Barbados in the early 17th Century, is becoming evident.  This piratical world view - which established the sub-human status of slaves and other non-whites and made whatever was wanted "fair game" and became known in history as "Manifest Destiny" (Did anyone else catch Bush's comment about how the Southwest, which was once part of Mexico, "became ours"?  That's exactly the Barbadian Pirate worldview in action.).  The Pirates were the creators of Southernism, and they have always been a parasite on whichever national political party they could attach themselves to.  Now, rather than merely attaching themselves as they did to the Democratic Party from Jefferson to LBJ, they have taken actual control of the party that was originally founded to destroy them - what a bit of historical irony.

            But yes - they do want to take us back to a 17th century world view - the worldview of English pirates.

            William Goldman was right when he said the three rules of Hollywierd are "1) Nobody, 2) knows, 3) anything." Works in the real world, too.

            by HollywierdLiberal on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 01:35:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That's true (none)
          When conservatives talk about "strict constructionists" they're talking about judges (Scalia) that want to interpret the Constitution in the time it was written.  That's the 18th century.

          George W. Bush -- Disaster Accomplished

          by Unstable Isotope on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 03:44:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No way (none)

            Go read Clarence Thomas' opinion in the Cheney case. He clearly states that what was a correct application of fishin' for information against the Hillary health care taskforce was incorrect to apply against Cheney.

            They say they are "strict constructionists" but really they just want petty irrational partisanship with one set of laws for Democrats and liberal protestors and another for abortion-clinic terrorists. A contemporary version of Jim Crow.

            And just like W's done for his whole life, when it looks like it's going wrong (like the night of living Zell) he tries to walk away from it, whistling and snapping his fingers trying to look cool. c.f. Not showing up for his NG medical exam. Vetoes that were overridden as Texas Governor, that he now claims credit for the good done by the override.

            This isn't the Republic Party of Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt, but much closer to the Democratic Party of John C. Calhoun and Trent Lott. (Teddy Roosevelt was one of the Mugwumps that left the Republicans and helped to elect Grover Cleveland for a second time when the Republicans sold their souls and reversed Reconstruction to maintain political power in the 1870s. And one thing everybody agrees on is that W and Rove and the neo-cons will do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to maintain their control of political power.)

    •  Underplayed Analogies (4.00)
      They're rolling society forwards to a science fiction future that blends a number of different eras.

      We keep failing to factor in the way technology changes economic and political power. We seem to see only the upsides, for example the net empowering small and midsized grassroots efforts. But we pay very little political attention to the downsides of advancements giving society's top end powers that are superhumanly magical compared to the reasoning that produced our system.

      Technology has already freed the economy from a need for American labor, in principle, for either goods or services. The expected growth in large 3rd world markets is gradually freeing the economy from dependence on American consumers.

      With my heritage I look back to Highland Scotland of the mid 1700's to see a time when a nation's economic owners realized that their population wasn't lucrative for either production or consumption. Their response was to get rid of most of that population in the Highland Clearances.

      Bushco is working on a re-marriage of church and state. And through both policy and technology's natural evolution of corporatization, and the resulting economics of scholarship and the press, they are obliterating societal reasoning in favor of belief. These trends roll back the Enlightenment and in some ways the Rennaissance.

      And just as we concentrate our most magical powers into fewer hands with the least accountability and transparency, we take command of the design our own species.

      I'm hardly a science fiction expert but my first guess is that sci-fi may well be better than history at describing our present and predicting our future.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:20:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  a lot of ideas here (none)
        i'm not sure if all of them work, but most do.  i do agree the current administration is anti-enlightenment, and there hasn't been enough discussion of this. the approach to religion really is pre-modern, and perhaps medieval. plus there is a drift toward theocracy: bush's formal observance of religion is seen by many of his supporters to be justification enough to have him in the white house. never mind competence, or even acting in what most people would term a `christian' fashion. this is dangerous, and was one of the things that the u.s. revolution was supposed to be getting away from.

        non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

        by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:28:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, and we need a new vision (none)
        It is easier to shape the new than to reshape the old. Technology will remake the physical, informational, and political world, for better or worse, making many of today's burning issues quaint and obsolete.

        We need a vision of a remade world worth living it, a vision that can mobilize an effort to make it happen. Instead, we put 90% of our effort into refighting old battles, and 99% of the rest of our effort into responses, rather than initiatives. The opportunity cost is staggering.

        The revolution will be driven by the revolution in technology. It matters who steers, and toward what end.

  •  Shhhhhh (none)
    You're not supposed to talk about class in the USA.
  •  Yes! (4.00)
    The New Deal, people!

    Perhaps the most popular governmental effort in our nation's history, undertaken by the most popular president at least of the 20th century.

    I do not understand for the life of me why Democrats have not gone back to mine the 1930s and FDR in particular for pointers and advice. Here was a man who was from the Northeast elite, Harvard educated, related to a President, married a cousin. FDR was more elite than the man he replaced.

    Yet FDR truly understood what the American people needed - economic security. And he communicated this with clarity and conviction and the vast majority of Americans firmly believed he was on their side.

    Democrats took note and for 50 years held the White House, or were at least never far from it. Democrats took note and held the Congress for 60 years, or were never far from it.

    We look back and think the New Deal was radical for its time. It wasn't. Moreover, it wrapped itself in the American flag, offered a return to the true ideals of the Revolution and the 19th century, things most Americans agree with. And it worked. Holy hell did it work. It worked better than any other political movement in this country's history, with cross-regional and cross-class and cross-racial appeal. Not even today's conservatives have that appeal. If they did they'd wet themselves.

    So go back and let's study what worked and figure out how to do it again. It's all about the New Deal, and the Popular Front.

    "you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one" - Lennon

    by eugene on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:37:39 AM PDT

    •  new deal didn't didn't come out of nowhere (4.00)
      it was the result of political and social thinking that began in the 1890s (some of dating back further) and small-scale experimention in varius urban centers. it was the culmination of movement that had both practical advocates like adams, and theoretical backers like dewey. it was also the project of an age that wasn't as anti-intellecual as our own, nor as single-mindedly demotic in its political approach. we don't have the same patience with enlightened elites we once did.

      non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

      by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:42:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And a labor movement (4.00)
        That was the wonderful work of the New Deal: uniting labor activists, innovative social thinkers, artists, all in the project of making a better society.

        If the left wants to return to that level of strength, it needs to again create a COORDINATED movement of activists, thinkers, and visionaries.

        •  Even further (none)
          I would agree and say it should even go a step further; a rethinking among left-liberals of their class identification.

          It's important for people to understand that, with few exceptions, you're a "worker" no matter what you do.  Maybe you don't work with your hands, or in a factory, but you do work, and you can be shed as fast as any blue-collar man or woman.

          This kind of unity will require breaking down some class barriers.

          •  Class Divisions (none)
            The liberal view of class is not the problem ... though to build on your point, a widening of the term "worker" could re-invigorate unions in this country. White collar workers can certainly benefit from the labor movement, too, especially since the consequences of globalization have spread beyond manufacturing into other sectors. I think the problem is that real class division DO exist in the US, but liberals tend to back away from forcing the issue when Republicans start screaming about "class warfare." Who the hell decided class warfare is a bad thing for America? The Republicans and their fat executive cronies are terrified of having the class issue re-framed by the left. But to do that, progressives need to keep up a full-court press.
            •  it's amazing (none)
              the republicans have been practicing class warfare on the poor for a generation now, but if we mention this WE'RE the class warriors. more the non-logic we've come to expect of the modern republican party.

              i think the answer to this is to simply make the points over and over again and ignore the name calling. eventually it runs out of steam. it's approximately the same technique the righties have used to advance their much weaker ideas, and they've been successful.

              non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

              by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 11:05:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Exactly (4.00)
                This is a great example of how they've been able to frame the debate because of their strength. The right-wing ninnies weren't able to frame the debate this way in the 60s and 70s.

                But they learned how to get their money, their thinkers, their media hounds, and their grassroots shock troops (e.g., Christian Coalition) all on the same page, speaking the same language and moving in the same direction.

                That's what is needed on the left now.

          •  asdf (none)
            Using "worker" as an identifier isnt something picked out of a hat. Neither does it refer to people working with their hands.

            In america there have always been three classes. The upper class, the managerial class, and the working class. Since the seventies we've added the technical class in a serious way. The technical class consists of people who usually have four year degrees or more.

            The upper and managerial classes have from the beginning of the nation been the beneficiaries of the capitalist system. It was designed to do just that. And their class interests did and do conflict with the interests of the working class. At first as we added in the technical class they at first they were part of the managerial class. They had many of the same powers, perks and responsibilities and often served in the same roles. But as information and technology continue to explode their functions become more and more easily integrated into the working class. You no longer need an mit educated engineer to build a CNC machine. You no longer need someone with a doctorate in computer science to program or maintain a database. So the technical class slips to somewhere slightly above the working class.

            And so a four class system is born. With the managerial and technical classes often united over similar interests. And thus the current "move to the right".

            Democrats came into power by appealing to the majority. And the majority are not the people who own the corporations. They are not the people who will ever in their lives buy a new Lexus. They are not the people who wear suits to work.. or even own suits.

            We have to get back to appealing to the true majority. And all that takes is to once again return to the ideals of the libertarian left. The ideals put forth by people like Jefferson, King, Roosevelt.

            In other words.. when our party stops trying to be Faux country club republicans we will take back this country in a Storm.  

            "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." - pRresident Bush | My other Drunken ravings

            by cdreid on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:31:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Demise of the New Deal's intellectual base (4.00)
      When I see and read about the heirs of the New Deal (to say nothing of the heirs of Prairie Populism)wanting to return us to the Gilded Age, one thing that is often missing is a discussion of how 40 years of Republican bad-mouthing government, coupled with abysmal civics and economic education, has poisoned younger (under 45's in particular) people against government and obscured the role that government played in the creation of the middle class.

      In the Post WWII world we had programs like the GI Bill, FHA and Veterans' loans, the Highway program, Space Program, ramped up science and math education etc.  these built on earlier programs like the WPA that had put people to work (and the war itself) and the Wagner Act that helped create good union jobs.

      Granted, there were excesses in LBJ's War on Poverty and Great Society.  But they, too, helped expand the middle class to include many minorities.  

      But now people take all that for granted.  They think capitalism did it allk, when it was really a government-provate sector partnership that funnelled money into socially productive enterprises that were then mostly provately built.  The resulting social capital weas enormous.

      Now, what we have is government directing huge contracts and subsidies for an ill-conceived and badly run war, or just plain shovelling the money in the form of stringless subsidies to HMOs and Big Pharma, plus tax cuts that ensure the really wealthy will not have to pay for much of this, and the middle class shrinks, we have deteriorating social capital, no sense of community, a huge population of low skilled, jobless workers as well as skilled people who are working below their potential.  And we are seeing a return to the worst of the '50's, the stultifying conformity and paranoia that made those prosperous years less pleasant for us non-conformists.  

      This truly is a Great Leap Backward, and yet so many of the very people who are being screwed the most seem to be cheering it on the loudest.  

      If you're going in the wrong direction and you stay the course, where, exactly, do you wind up?

      by Mimikatz on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:04:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Liberalism and the Red Scare (4.00)
        I think the Liberal establishment's acquiescene to commie-baiting has a tremendous amount to do with this.  We should all remember that, even though it's basically been illegal to be an open Communist or Anarchist in the US for, I dunno, 125 years or so, many leftist radicals played key roles in all of these social movements, from the labor movement to the anti-war movement to the civil rights movement.  When Labor lent its influence to attacking "commies" and "fellow travellers" many, many talented and committed people were lost to our side.  Think this is in the past?  I used to work for the AFT, and as of 2001 they still included their "proud history of opposing communism" (i.e. redbaiting union brothers and sisters who were communists and ruining their lives) during the Cold War in their official history of the union.

        More than that, collectively losing the threat of genuine radicalism gave Capital a huge break.  Much of the New Deal was passed as a compromise between Capital and radicals, or a bulwark against revolution, which was a genuine concern in the early 30s.  If the bosses hadn't been so worried about their workers seizing factories and stringing up the capitalists from the rafters, they wouldn't have acquisced to the Wagner Act.  

        This is the price we pay for not having a genuine Left in American politics -- that is, a party or movement that explicitly opposes Capitalism as an organizing principle for our society.  And this is the reason why the DLC has enabled the lurch rightward in American politics.  When the worst case scenario for Capital is a DLC Democrat, Capital has little reason to compromise.

        •  A bit of history about the "communists" (none)
          While there were in fact good "ground troops" communists involved in the unionization struggle and the anti-racism struggles of the 1920s-40s, the unfortunate fact that American Communism was distorted into Stalinism and became an extension of Soviet foreign policy made it possible for the right to attack them as they did.  The Stalinists, the left nazis, were as bad as the right Nazis.  You cannot understand the failure of the American left without understanding the anti-progressive role of the Communist Party on the American left of that period.  The same problem happened in the 1960s with the socialite-socialists of the "revolutionary communist" wing of the not-so-New Left.

          And you don't have to be a Republican to be an anti-Communist.  Those of us who knew the bastards first-hand hate them the most because they did what they did to us.

          William Goldman was right when he said the three rules of Hollywierd are "1) Nobody, 2) knows, 3) anything." Works in the real world, too.

          by HollywierdLiberal on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 01:59:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  one item forgotten (4.00)
        An otherwise-excellent analysis, but there is one thing too many people forget was the real underpinning of the success of the New Deal:

        We won the Second World War.

        In 1945, the United States directly controlled 80 percent of the functional industrial capacity of the planet, since the industrial bases of the other industrial powers had been bombed into rubble (much of it by us!).  The rest of the world spent the next 20 years recovering from the effects of the destruction of the war.  In 1945, the United States was responsible for about 65% of the World Gross Product.  As late as 1964, we were still responsible for close to 50%.  It was only in the late 1960s and on into the 70s that Germany and Japan became the world economic powers they are now, having recovered from the destruction, while Britain fell into increasing irrelevance, living on dreams of imperial glory and a sentimental attachment by the United States to Churchill's view of "The English-Speaking Peoples."

        So, in 1945, it was possible for the United States to finance the G.I. Bill and revolutionize American society with a middle-class existence of home ownership and higher education.

        It was an unsustainable bubble, though, and our problem today is that no one will seriously face up to the fact that the American Dream as defined in 1945 is no longer sustainable.  Just here in Southern California, you can look at the neighborhoods where the fathers of todays middle class family heads had their GI Bill homes and went to work at the unionized factories (that no longer exist - both Lockheed Aircraft and General Motors being turned into Walmart-malls with Walmart wages) making enough money that their wives could take care of their children and they could get home in time to be part of their families. Today, their children live in the Santa Clarita Valley, or east of Los Angeles, and spend a good 4-5 hours a day commuting to jobs so demanding (and insecure) that when they get home to the housing projects that are not communities (i.e., gatherings of society with things for the people who live there to do together - other than drive to the mall to shop), they fall asleep so they can get up the next morning and do it again. They wonder why their kids are out of control, why nothing works the way it used to, and know somewhere deep in their souls that the American Dream has become a nightmare.  But nobody wants to mention that, because it might mean "changing the way we think about things."  

        So instead both parties promise to take us back to a world that never really existed the way we remember them (since our "memories" are actually sitcoms), and no one wants to look at the Elephant in the living room - which is that you cannot live on this planet the way my family could 50 years ago.

        Sorry, all I can do is define the problem - I wish to hell I had a solution, but I do know some "science fiction thinking" is going to be necessary to dig ourselves out of this pit.

        William Goldman was right when he said the three rules of Hollywierd are "1) Nobody, 2) knows, 3) anything." Works in the real world, too.

        by HollywierdLiberal on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 01:54:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  a fact that cannot be ignored (none)
          I forgot to say in the above that there is a fact that cannot be ignored, and cannot be sustained. That is:

          5% of the world's population cannot continue to utilize 25% of the world's resources.

          Not with a rising economic power like China - where they are trying to replicate our 1945-standard "American Dream" for a small middle class (compared to the total population) that is going to soon be bigger than the entire population of the United States.

          Well, you can do it if you're willing to be a hard-headed Republican and utilize your Barbadian Pirate idology and take it.  With a permanent war of us against the rest of the world.

          William Goldman was right when he said the three rules of Hollywierd are "1) Nobody, 2) knows, 3) anything." Works in the real world, too.

          by HollywierdLiberal on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 02:08:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for the additions (none)
          to our collective historical memory.

          I suspect you are right about that way of life being unsustainable.  But it seems to me that if we had a steeper graduated income tax and used some of the money to fund public sector jobs like teachers, cops, emergency health workers, other first responders, construction/reonstruction of infrastructure, we could get some of that back.  

          I remember the shock when I used to go to New York for meetings of an national organization in the '80s of seeing the incredible income disparity between the limosine class and the street people. We had plenty of homeless here in the Bay Area, but nothing like the disparity of wealth I saw there, which has now spread to enclaves of the overclass in many-places in this country.  

          People need to understand how corrosive this level of income disparity is.  As Kevin Phillips wrote in Wealth and Democracy, the two are basically incompatible.

          If you're going in the wrong direction and you stay the course, where, exactly, do you wind up?

          by Mimikatz on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 06:24:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do you have (none)
            some sort of evidence that "that way of life is unsustainable"? You dont. In fact all of the evidence is to the contrary. This "unsustainable" myth is the creation of the supply siders and country club republicans to explain away the effects of shifting our national wealth to the upper upper class.

            Consider that the upper class owns something like 95% of the nations wealth and an even higher percentage of its income. That leaves the rest of the nation to fight like rabid dogs over the remaining scraps.

            As productivity increases wealth increases. Where that wealth goes is the problem. We produce things infinitely more efficiently than we did in the fifties. And yet our standard of living is going down? The math doesnt add up.

            Of course.. we wouldnt want to let science and fact interfere with political lies put out by the enemies of the common people.

            "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." - pRresident Bush | My other Drunken ravings

            by cdreid on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:12:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Did you read my posts? (none)
              I am, and have consistently been, arguing for greater income equality.  I have consistently argued for a stronger public sector, funded by taxes on the rich.  I was responding to Hollywierd Liberal's comment on how from the end of WWII until the mid '60s the US had a huge share of the gross world product and industrial base.  Notwithstanding that observation, which is obviously historically correct, I do think that greater income equality is not only possible in this country, but mandatory, if democracy is to survive.

              If you're going in the wrong direction and you stay the course, where, exactly, do you wind up?

              by Mimikatz on Sat Sep 04, 2004 at 12:55:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Not exactly true (none)
          What you are talkign about is actually the thing that put the right in power.

           The New Deal combined with multiple effects of world war two resulted in the creation of what we now call "the middle class". And those people moved right. Dont forget it was those very people who rabidly opposed Martin Luther King. Who supported Viet Nam. Who hated the war protestors. A situation not unlike the present.

          The "new deal" in fact was a radical departure from even the democratic party. It was pure populism and leftism at its best. The ideas behind it are simply empowering the lower and working classes (Note: working class is NOT the same thing as middle class). This was done across multiple fronts. Radical deficit spending targetted not at the corporate class but rather at the working class and poor. Jobs programs. Large contracts for extremely manpower intensive industries. (Like Damns, bridges et al). In other words.. simple old fashioned consumer economics. Which, despite modern groupthink, is the only economic theory that has ever succeeded. The economic theory is simply to put the wealth of the nation into the hands of the poor and middle class... and the rest flows from there. And it works. The only time our economic systems fail is when we abandon it. Like we are now. Like we have since Reagan came into office.

          All we have to do to take back america is become Democrats again. To gold back to the Principles and IDEALS of the democratic party. Individual liberty. Fighting for the underdog. Protecting the poor and working classes.

          This "issue shopping" and abandonment of our core principles is what cost us the trust of the american people.. not what gained it. Principle matters. We abandoned ours. Now we suckle on bitter grapes.

          "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." - pRresident Bush | My other Drunken ravings

          by cdreid on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:07:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Brilliantly accurate (none)
        nuf said.

        "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." - pRresident Bush | My other Drunken ravings

        by cdreid on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:14:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Historical contingency (4.00)
      I very much sympathize with what you've said here, but I would argue that FDR was aided, in a sense, by two significant crises:  the Great Depression and World War II.

      FDR's hand was freed to do what he did because Americans were faced with a situation they hadn't faced before (and he was further helped by Hoover's ineffective response).  I don't think FDR could have done what he did in another historical context.

      And that's the problem, I think, in replicating the New Deal.  Until Americans see themselves as being in a similar situation - and they don't right now - it's going to be much harder to capture the spirit of the New Deal that is increasingly fading from American collective memory.

    •  See my comments below (none)
      The New Deal was only possible because of a broad, well-organized labor movement.

      FDR was the first to admit that he was only able to be as progressive as the Democratic base forced him to be.

      Social movements determine what is possible in any given period of history. A New Deal isn't possible now, unless progressive forces significantly improve their level of organizational strength and savvy.

      Can't wait around for enlightened leaders. We need to lead.

      •  agree (none)
        which is why the occasional bit of middle-class hostility to labor unions on kos amazes me. unions were once a great counterbalance to the power of the ownership class, and could be again. that some people who consider themselves liberal have absorbed the anti-union rhetoric of the right, often without much tought, always strikes me as very stupid.

        yes, by all means fight for democratic, open and honest unionism, but rejecting all unions as mob-controlled and evil strikes me as nutty, especially in the current political circumstances.

        this post obviously not directed at you, pops.

        non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

        by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:41:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed (none)
          I try an articulate something similar above.

          Any human institution, be it a company, government, union, church, etc. is going to be imperfect because it's created by imperfect people.  But let's not confuse imperfect functioning with poor principle.

        •  Unions (none)
          Democratic, open, and honest unionism doesn't make the news. Officials who rob the employees blind, obscure their finances, and intimidate members at election time do.

          For the general public to see unions in a positive light, the unions need to play the same PR game that corporations play, and show reporters their view of the world.  This hasn't been done effectively for many years, and won't happen until members insist on it.

    •  I don't know the answer - but... (none)
      I suspect that the problem is that the discipline of economics has gotten so powerful that it dominate all political thought. Keynes' 1936 book has given us a new way of viewing the world, one that is still working its' way through society.

      You have both the mathematizing (is that a legal word?) of the discipline and the great success of free markets in creating a perpetually growing gros national product.

      This leads to the ~political~ assmuption that the problems in society will be covered by the growth of the economy and that income does not need to be redistributed to fix those problems. In fact, the fear is that such redistributions of income will somehow damage the magic of the free market.

      Keynes' theory of economics essentially converted the discipline of econonics from a philosophical pursuit into an engineering discipline. There has been no comparable development in Political Science or Sociology, so the normal human decision-making process of focusing on what can be quantified and ignoring the qualitative factors in decision-making is applied in politics.

      The New Deal was a set of political and social changes that grew from the economic of the 19th century. But it was based on the qualitiative factors of human life, not on the mathematical manipulations of economics.

      It is really hard to sell qualitative benefits over economic ones in the first place. Then the media operates on "sound-bytes" that look for quick, clear and easily explained answers and does not cater to more complicated ones.

      The effect is that it is much easier to sell the economic free market than it is good public schools and mass medical care.

      As I say, I don't know that this is the answer, but I suspect it is in  the right direction.

  •  All of this (none)
    is very succinctly explained in this month's Harper's. Lewis Lapham goes through the history and philosophy of what we have come to call "conservatism". I recommend it. It is even scarier than you think.

    "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

    by johnmorris on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:42:03 AM PDT

    •  It's a great article (none)
      And one point that I took away from it was that the current right-wing power is the result of a concerted multi-pronged effort that was conceived of and pursued over the course of decades. The "Tentacles of Rage" (as Lapham calls them) extend into every aspect of our society: education, economics, religion, etc.

      The lesson is that the American people need a "movement," a sustained effort that seeks to change the ethos of the nation, changes the way we think about topics like public education, health care, and business, even science and technology.

      I believe George Bush I was right to call for a "kinder, gentler America," only he was insincere about it. The Goldwater revolution that started all this crap has to be turned back by a broad movement devoted to restoring our sense of unity and the shared fate that a majority of us carry. Defeating George Bush stops the hemorrhaging, but as Lapham implies, we need to change our diet and who we hang out with before we can hope for a future of health and prosperity.

  •  how i wish he were only a candidate (none)
    and not actually occupying the White House!
    In fact, he's possibly the most radical presidential candidate since FDR.

    America began begins with freedom from King George's empire.

    by bribri on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:43:46 AM PDT

  •  Welcome to the Texas Model... (none)
    Which is very typical of a 3rd world country freshly decolonized: concentration of ownership of the means of production (land, industrial base and financial capital) and a lot of poverty.  Think most of Latin America, for example.

    We should throw Texas out of the US.  Sell it to Mexico or something.

    Peace in a world free of Religion, Peace in a world where everyone gets Heaven... -- Toni Halliday

    by Wintermute on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:49:42 AM PDT

    •  Agreed. (none)
      Only we get to keep the City of Austin, the Johnson Space Center, and President Johnson's birthplace.
      •  What about the Alamo? (nt) (none)

        Need a bumper sticker?
        Bush/Cheney '04: Thanks for Not Paying Attention!

        by mugsimo on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:07:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Some of the little burgs (none)
        around Austin are nice too...my Spanish is very weak so I don't want to be sold to Mexico.  My French is good though...maybe we can be sold to Canada?  
        •  Sell Texas to Canada? (none)
          Perhaps we could offer a joint package of Southern (Cajun) Louisiana and Texas to Quebec at a cut-rate price??

          Of course, Texas just passed the point where Whites are now less than 50% of the population, so Mexico is probably a better market. Both Houston and Beaumont are better seaports than anything Mexico has.

          It won't matter, though. In a generation Mexico, the US and Canada will be as combined as Europe is now, with almost total free movement of populations and economic goods. [Quebec will then be a problem to ALL of us, not just the Canadians.]

          •  We'll take (none)
            New Orleans, sure, gladly. The rest of Louisiana... meh, perhaps. But Texas, no way. What are you trying to do, destroy us?

            Tell you what -- how about we give you Alberta, and we take New England in trade?

            If a landslide falls in the bit bucket... was there an election?

            by Canadian Reader on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 01:03:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  An offer ... (none)
              Hey, we can give you a good deal, and your oil guys in Calgary can communicate with our oil guys in Houston over steaks.

              And, uh, New Orleans isn't part of Cajun (French-speaking) Louisana. Don't know what it is, actually. There is even has a portion that has an accent like the New Yorkers (Bronx? Apparently it has an Irish base.)

              When I worked for Social Security in New Orleans, the first question on the retirement claim form was "Have you ever been outside of the United States?" At least once a week I'd get a puzzeled look and the comment "Well, I've been to Mississipi [the state next door] once." There are a lot of people in New Orleans to whom there is nothing outside the city that is any more real than the stories on TV.

              Mostly Cajun country is just the swamp country around the Atchafalaya River and the mouth of the Missippi. Great coffee, good food, and if you want entertaining politicians, you might want to get Edwin Edwards out of prison.

              I'm not sure if it is apocryphal, but he once ran on the slogan "Vote for the crook. It matters." He won, too. [What I am not sure of was whether the slogan was approved. But it was really out there.]

              Cajun country would make a great "kicker" when you decide to buy Texas. If you really want New Orleans too, we can talk. They probably would never notice the change.  

              •  NY accent in New Orleans (none)
                Yes, the accent you referred to is indigenous to the Irish Channel and Ninth Ward neighborhoods in New Orleans, memorialized in the novel "Confederacy of Dunces".
              •  Sorry. (none)
                We're not taking Texas. Not even if you throw in Molly Ivins. We've managed to keep our own Albertan Texas-wannabes mostly under control, but that's only because we outnumber them. No way we'd let them have reinforcements.

                Cajun country, that's another story. We could be convinced... good food, great music. Though what they speak isn't quite French.

                But New Orleans. Now there's a city to fall in love with. My son lives there. So I know about the accent. And the cooking, both Cajun and Creole. And the graveyards, and the Quarter ghost stories, and the terrific jazz, and the krewes, and Saint Expedite, and the voodoo temples. The gang wars, and the murder rate. The way people roll their eyes at the mention of Anne Rice. And corrupt politicos unblinkingly taken for granted.

                "Vote for the crook. It's important." I remember that. It was a rallying cry in 1991, for those who wanted to make sure David Duke didn't get to be governor.

                If a landslide falls in the bit bucket... was there an election?

                by Canadian Reader on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 02:18:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  OK. New offer (none)
                  We'll let you have Southern Louisiana, including New Orleans, if you'll take Texas. And to sweeten it, you don't have to take Dallas or Houston. We'll let them secede, build large fences around them, and we are all safer. Those two cities are the main source of the conservative infection. I'm sure they'd go along to avoid annexation by Canada anyway.

                  Think of it - warm weather you can move to during the Winters. With Austin. What more could you ask??

                  •  You have a point there. (none)
                    The Texans we wouldn't want, would despise any suggestion of joining Canada.

                    Okay, tell you what...

                    Hold a referendum in Texas -- with a clearly worded question, of course. Track the votes by Congressional District, and let any C-D where a majority wants to join Canada, do so. That... would surely result in the most topologically interesting international border anywhere in the world.

                    We could call the new territory Espagueti.

                    If a landslide falls in the bit bucket... was there an election?

                    by Canadian Reader on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 07:19:49 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Using Diebold voting machines (none)
                      It'll take a little while to set up. I'll need to be sure I understand how to properly program the machines.

                      This is Texas, you understand. Tell me how the election should turn out, hand me the money, and you've got it.

                      First I need to hack into Tom Delay's PACs....

                      I'll get back to you.

                      •  No, no. Forget Diebold... (none)
                        You couldn't ever be sure that someone else wasn't hacking the system too.

                        Do it Canadian style. Paper ballots. A circle for "Yes," a circle for "No." Give voters a pencil and tell them to hand-draw an X in one circle. Count the ballots manually, and any ballots you'd prefer not to count, you disqualify as "spoiled". This simple, straightforward system is traditional in Canada for referendums about sovereignty. There are plenty of people in Quebec who could help you set it up.

                        If a landslide falls in the bit bucket... was there an election?

                        by Canadian Reader on Sat Sep 04, 2004 at 10:21:45 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Actually I had the Florida 2002 system in mind (none)
                          Two hacks. One in the machine, a second during transmission to the central system. Double check that the result turned out correctly, then publish it.

                          Two weeks later you announce that all the voting results have been accidently erased.

                          Tight control all the way through.

                          •  Diebold has it under control (none)

                            What I hadn't read until after I posted the above message was this. blackboxvoting.org

                            Consumer Report Part 1: Look at this -- the Diebold GEMS central tabulator contains a stunning security hole.

                            Submitted by Bev Harris on Thu, 08/26/2004 - 11:43. Investigations Issue: Manipulation technique found in the Diebold central tabulator -- 1,000 of these systems are in place, and they count up to two million votes at a time.

                            By entering a 2-digit code in a hidden location, a second set of votes is created. This set of votes can be changed, so that it no longer matches the correct votes. The voting system will then read the totals from the bogus vote set. It takes only seconds to change the votes, and to date not a single location in the U.S. has implemented security measures to fully mitigate the risks.

                            This program is not "stupidity" or sloppiness. It was designed and tested over a series of a dozen version adjustments.

                            But of course, I am merely a hobbiest programmer. Obviously the professionals at Diebold have figured it out before I did.

    •  Michael Lind's thesis (none)
      Funny, but I just thought of Michael Lind and his argument that Dubya represents an old-line, plantation-style politics and economics that, in his case, has its roots in the political and economic environment in east Texas.

      It's in his book, Made in Texas.  Lind contrasts Bush's Texas with LBJ's Hill Country, populist Texas that owes a lot to German immigration.  You can see similiarities in other states (like Wisconsin) that had high levels of German immigration - these immigrants often had a social democratic or socialist bent to them.

      •  significant socialist vote in texas (none)
        until the first world war.

        non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

        by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:15:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Hear hear (none)
        I didn't agree with all of Lind's book but I thought that was a spot-on insight.
      •  Not just Germans (none)
        There are/were other ethnic groups who influenced the political conditions of the areas they settled by retaining political influences they brought.  Think of Minnesota (until recently).  The Finnish communists who organized workers on the iron range; the Norwegian and Swedish farmers who brought models of social democracy from Scandinavia.  Minnesota's politics looked quite like that for quite a while.  Yes, there was a social conservatism--Lutheranism does have it's conservative tendencies--but there was a quite generous welfare state that was probably among the closest to a Scandinavian model than any other in the U.S.

        There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. *J.W. von Goethe

        by MAJeff on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:56:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A bit more (none)
          Part of what I wrote above is, of course, plainly obvious.  Whenever a group migrates to another geographical area, they will maintain the culture they know.  Interactions with new groups in the newly adopted home will necessarily transform the culture and practices of both groups.  

          However, one thing that also needs to be considered is how the Germans, Norwegians, Swedes and Finns all became "white" upon coming to the United States.  Thus, the longer any of those groups are in the country, the "whiter" they become, and the less German, etc.  So, the roots of the strong welfare state, of the immigrant experience, of not "always being in the middle class" are forgotten.

          There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. *J.W. von Goethe

          by MAJeff on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 11:04:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, certainly (none)
          I only used the Germans as an example, as that's the group I'm most familiar with in the context of this discussion.
        •  Finns in Michigan (none)
          The best story on Finns and the Labor Movement came out of the Upper Penisula of Michigan in Laurium and Calumet Michigan. If you go to Pasty.com you can find links to the history of the Labor Movement.  There was a tragedy involved as well.. a fire that killed many many people during a celebration.  
    •  Bananas (none)
      My dear mum summed this up nicely during a conversation a couple of years ago when, as I stammered, "I mean, what the hell are these guys thinking? It's the biggest heist in human history. It's like they're... they're... " She said, "Yeah, they're turning the country into a Banana Republic."

      To the point.

      treason is the reason

      by DjW on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 12:45:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How about... (none)
    Changing the nomenclature to reflect political reality:

    Why don't we liberals call ourselves the true "conservatives", and call the GOP exactly what they are:  Corporate Supremacists.

    •  Corporate Rule (none)
      The rhetoric Bush attaches to his plans is certainly subject to debate.  But it is clear that he is really simply acting on behalf of selfish corporate interests.  His plan to shake up social security is simply a means to get it into private sector hands.  When you take a large number of dollars like that and consider the associated fees say of 2-3% you are looking at some real profits headed into the  investment business.  

      One way to discern whose interests are being served by Chimp's SS privatization plan will be to look at the restictions that are put on the investments. If the funds appear to be channeled into certain select areas then we'll begin to view it as Bush just being Bush.  

      There is certain risk in letting the "ten year olds" who lost tons of money in Nasdaq - and will soon lose tons on real estate - control their own retirement choices.  They will act like United Airlines does with their pension program and take higher risks than necessary under the assumption that the government will back them up in the event they implode.

    •  I vote for calling them Atavists (none)
      Definitions from dictionary.com.  See #3

      1. The reappearance of a characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence, usually caused by the chance recombination of genes.

      2. An individual or a part that exhibits atavism. Also called throwback.

      3. The return of a trait or recurrence of previous behavior after a period of absence.
  •  Thank popular movements for all of the above (4.00)
    Let's not forget why other periods in U.S. history have been more progressive than the current era: social movements and popular people's struggles. The people.

    In the 1940s, the reason their was a "cordial" relationship between "capital and labor" is because 45% of workers belonged to unions. Business couldn't blink without having to consult labor, and labor leaders were regularly part of mapping out economic strategy.

    The reason why the EPA and health care and even a guaranteed basic income -- $10,000 a year for everyone! -- were on the agenda in the 1960s/70s is because of the social ferment of the era.

    As Frederick Douglass said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand." Progressive forces have not been well enough organized and powerful enough to demand much over the last 30 years. This is due to internal and external reasons.

    But never forget: it's the people, organized and powerful, that bring social change -- not leaders. They merely respond to whatever force is pushing them the hardest.

    Despite lefty blogs and other efforts, the left is at one of its weakest points in history. We will only create a better political and social environment through a new massive social movement -- well-organized, thoughtful and powerful -- that forces change.

    •  blame LBJ (4.00)
      he was both the culmination of the new deal and the cause of its ultimate disintegration. he got great social programs through -- among the last major ones -- and started the vietnam war, which blew up the new deal coaltion. plus the war was handled so dishonestly it lead to massive distrust of government, which the right had much greater success in making hay with than the left, at least over the long term.

      non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

      by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:02:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Lamp of Experience (3.50)
    If you want to really understand our heritage, read The Lamp of Experience: Whig History and the Intellectual Origins of the American Revolution by Trevor Colbourn (published by the conservative Liberty Fund - which is very good on American history, btw).

    Basically, the founders accepted the concensus of Brittish Whig historians of their time that Englishmen had enjoyed a past of exemplary individual liberty and rights under the Saxons, that  later generations inherited these rights, and that, since these rights were being usurped by the Crown, revolution to preserve them was necessary. The American concept of rights, as embodied in our founding documents, was based in the best historical work of that time (fanciful by current standards) which strongly supported the image of an earlier, better time under the norms of the (incidentally pre-Christian) Saxon tribes. This is what they were trying to "conserve."

    So we had the paradox of a conservative revolution, looking forward to a better future based on what we'd now see as a wishful fantasy of a more perfect - freer and more egalitarian - past. For the sake of a past which may have never existed as they imagined it, they strove to create a future worthy of that past.

    The problem with current "conservatives"? Maybe their image of an idealized past has more to do with the Middle Ages - theocracies and princes in castles? Check our fantasy shelves. In any case they are not conserving the original vision of America, which was based in a vision of the Northern tribes of Europe as being not Conan the Barbarian-types, but more civilized than Rome in there individual affairs.

    And now we have Emperor Bush.

    •  sounds like bernard bailyn (none)
      i think this argument is a little skewed, to say the least. while i'm not going to argue against the revolution's intellectual ties to the country parties of the english revolution, i think that using this argument ignores the very real influence of enlightenment ideals on the leaders of the revolution. the idea of government founded on reason and (admittedly qualified) equality. the "historical" stuff wasn't the origin of this thinking, but was dug up -- or invented -- to provide some justification. i'm also not sure how important it was -- jefferson probably meant it when he wrote of ``self-evident'' truths.

      non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

      by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:07:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't know Bailyn, but _read the book_ (none)
        It worked like this: "Enlightenment ideals" were commonplace among the Whig historians who then wrote histories reading those back into "Saxon liberties." The evidence for Saxon liberties goes back to Tacitus, so it was not of contemporary invention, howevermuch it was of contemporary elaboration. As for how important it was, the contents of the libraries of Jefferson, Adams &c. are recorded, and the largest category in them was historical works, the bulk of those written by recent Whig Brittish historians, all of whom glorified the "Saxon liberties" which preceded, and were recognized in, the Magna Carta as being the center of the story of Britain's superior heritage vis a vis individual rights and egalitarianism.

        Further, the emphasis on equality among the Saxons  was precisely what Tacitus claimed, and there are other sources suggestive of the Northern European tribes being more democratic and egalitarian than the Mediterranean cultures.

        As for Jefferson's truths, he was basically cribbing from Francis Hutcheson, who was in turn borrowing core concepts from (the athiestic) Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, who in turn had been tutored by Locke (Shaftebury's grandfather having been a founding Whig). Hutcheson held that property was only of real value to the extent that it truly served the pursuit of happiness, which is why "life, liberty & property" as edited by Jefferson to be "life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness." However, Jefferson would likely not have supported Hutcheson's (Scottish) philsophic beliefs if he had not had the historic background painted by such Whig historians as Catherine Macaulay, who actively encouraged our Revolution.

        Surely you know that the Whigs were the Liberals of their time. The point is that the Whig ideology was based in historical interpretation that presented their egalitarian ideals as historically founded, thus a "conservative" movement. And the Saxon tribes truly had never gone through feudalism - never had the sort of French past that Bush's people are trying to sell us as our future. (Note the irony.) If we can grant that one Greek city, Athens, stood above most, why can't we grant that one Germanic tribe, Saxons, may have done likewise in their own neighborhood? Are we so politically correct we must disown all pride in pasts, even radical and progressive ones?

  •  I forget who... (none)
    But someone over at Tapped posted a similar discussion, in reference to Zell's Wendell Wilkie soundbites.

    And its true.... While a lot of folks might point to Goldwater, etc as the birth of the Dem=liberal and Repub=conservative birthplace, I think it was the bum-rushing, or maybe outright purging, of the Dixiecrats that truly set the stage...  

    For all the grief "northeastern liberals" take - I sure wish more talking heads would keep this in mind.

    It was the freedom riders, MLK, and the civil rights marchers that ignited one of the most important movements in our history -- but it was "northeastern liberals" that marginalized many of the blatant and open racists to the dustbin of history.  Sure - some of the more pragmatic among them (Yes, I'm talking about you- though you're dead - , Mr. Thurmond) ran into the Republican fold... another fact that needs more discussion.

    And found the citation.

    It was from Matt Yglesias here

  •  The proper term for Bush's crowd (none)
    We need some truth in political labeling. Bush's cabal are not Convervatives, nor even Rightwing. They are Radical (or Rabid) Reactionaries.
  •  good post (none)
    A politically savvy friend and I were recently talking about how Nixon's economic policies (may he rot in Hell) would be savaged as "socialist" by any mainstream electoral figure today, including Democrats. This is the success of the Reagan-Bush43 axis. I agree that the Democrats do not embrace FDR enough on economic issues. I try to console myself tht ultimately the 'Thugs are trying to do the impossible- roll back the tide of history. That's why Bush is so desperate to denigrate world opinion, and particularly "Old Europe"- we live in a world much of which is governed by enlightened, moderate, democratic socialism ( Canada, Australia, almost all of Europe), and our 'Thug corporate masters have to distract us constantly from this simple fact and try to diminish the stature of these other societies which are moving ahead of ours philosophically and economically.

    A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free people.

    by faugh a ballagh on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:05:27 AM PDT

    •  to my detriment (none)
      i owe my dad money in canadian dollars, and the damn currency strengthened about a fifth. lucky me.

      non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

      by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:12:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The activists of the 60s (none)
      succeeded in making things like the EPA and a Guaranteed Minimum Income appear moderate. People think the 60s movements failed -- or at least didn't get as far as they wanted -- but they had a huge affect on the public, in terms of shifting the center of politics to the left.
  •  Reform and paleocons (none)
    Jacques Barzun wrote in the '50s about the oscillation in US politics between reformers and conservatives. His take was that reformers triumph only when conditions are very bad, passing reforms the conservatives decry. With reforms in place, the conservatives regain power and, being conservative, do very little, leaving the reforms intact. The analysis makes sense for a preznit like Ike who disdained the New Deal ("If you want security, go to prison") but took no initiative to repeal it. Barzun didn't see the Goldwater reactionaries coming. Robert Novak (just to be a jerk?) likes to praise Coolidge as a great preznit, while Karl Rove famously wants a rollback to McKinley.

    I'll add that on foreign policy, the paleocons are looking better and better. Robert Taft was the last major political figure to resist imperialism, even opposing the Marshall Plan and the Cold War. He recognized that the US was becoming the de facto successor to the British Empire, and wanted no part of it. Taft saw that an imperial foreign policy meant a decline of domestic liberties, and he was prophetic. He also saw what a huge expense a global military would be and distrusted a standing army. Unrealistic nowadays, but anti-imperial lefties have a lot in common with the paleocons, and I wouldn't mind seeing a revival of them.

    •  hostility to the idea of a standing army (none)
      was the paleocons' great virtue.

      on the other hand, they were often racist and nativist and supported a kind of isolationism that wasn't really tenable after the first world war. the failure of the u.s. to join the league of nations, a rejection orchestrated by the paleocons, and the failure to take any sort of action in europe between the wars is often cited as a contributing factors that led to world war ii.

      even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

      non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

      by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:35:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You all read Krugman regularly, right? (none)
    But check out his latest. Not just bare knuckles -- he's put on a set of brass knuckles. With spikes.

    But the vitriol also reflects the fact that many of the people at that convention, for all their flag-waving, hate America. They want a controlled, monolithic society; they fear and loathe our nation's freedom, diversity and complexity.

    There's more, too. Lots more.

    If a landslide falls in the bit bucket... was there an election?

    by Canadian Reader on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:32:21 AM PDT

    •  I was waiting for this (none)
      I was thinking about this the other day.  The GOP's selling points are fear and hatred, not only internationally, but domestically.
    •  It may be a good footnote (none)
      to history, unfortunately. Krugman is out for blood, but he does, after all, write in the NYTimes.  This is a fascinating analysis, to be sure, but it requires some critical thinking...the kind that the Republican Party may be capable of, but they discourage it in their followers lest they figure out what they're actually up to.

      "When people think, we win." - The Big Dog

      Need a bumper sticker?
      Bush/Cheney '04: Thanks for Not Paying Attention!

      by mugsimo on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:49:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  kudos for bringing this up (none)
    I've long felt that Reagan covertly turned Conservatism on its head by bringing expansion of the military-industrial complex, economic liberalism (a.k.a world trade) and anti-abortion under its umbrella. And Clinton returned the favor by coddling corporate centrism and disassembling welfare as a 'liberal'. I don't think either Liberal or Conservative hold much meaning anymore.
  •  Not Conservative (none)
    I think Kerry is right that he is more conservative (and of course more liberal) than the current Admin and by extensive GOP. I've ranted about this before but I think we seriously need to emphasize:

    It is not conservative to diminish US institutions such as social security, public lands and the like.

    It is not conservative to act cavalierly toward the rule of law, whether the question involve Olympic trademarks, August ballot deadlines, bans on military personnel as delegates or torturing street-sweep detainees.

    It is not conservative to run up huge deficits, and in fact to pass legislation allowing one's intimates to fink out on paying their share of the bills.

    •  In my view (none)
      The current Republicans are the "Simpletons". They view everything in fairly simplistic terms - good & evil; rich & poor; left & right; American & un-American etc.

      The Democrats, including Kerry, are "Pragmatists". They know that things cannot be expressed in simple terms. That the world we live in is complex and interdependent. That people outside the US do not view the world in the same way.

      I could go on on these theme for hours - but I won't do it here.

      "It is a look I know well - if he had been a subordinate commander in battle I would have immediately relieved him of his command" General Sir Michael Rose

      by NeutralObserver on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 01:37:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where did he get this philosophy? (none)
    From his daddy? It does seem odd for his generation...one who benefited so much from the New Deal.  As much as I enjoy history, every time I pass the Hopkins and Stanford homes on Nob Hill, I think "That's what Bush wants." The days of the Money Barons and the worker class thankful for the police ignoring the opium dens.

    I've always considered myself a "conservative Democrat" in the sense that I'm all for change that is carefully considered and analyzed. Sometimes what passes for a "liberal" here in San Francisco is just a wee too much for me, but I generally agree.

    Very well written story, Trapper. The Right equates the word "radical" with "lefties", but we need to take that one back, too.

  •  So, in a nutshell, the GOP hates our America (none)
    and wishes to harm everyone in it so that they can live their dream of being robber barons who pit the people of the nation against one another over petty cultural issues.   Sounds like a recipie for disaster to me.

    "Reality" is the only word in the English language that should always be used in quotes.

    by LionelEHutz on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:45:45 AM PDT

  •  Reactionaries, Not Radicals (4.00)
    Several people have made some very important points.

    Eugene said:

    "We look back and think the New Deal was radical for its time. It wasn't."

    And Gracchus added:

    "it was the result of political and social thinking that began in the 1890s (some of dating back further)"

    To which I'll ad one more point--that the New Deal was intended to preserve capitalism and democracy, and was very much a pragrmatic experiment.  There was no discernable ideology or plan according to some key members of FDR's administration. They just tried different things.  They weren't even Keynsians, in fact. They only discovered Keynes after they tried to cut deficits and ignited a major recession in the late 30s, and they only really got a full Keynsian recovery from the massive spending of WWII.  

    So, in short, it is not at all accurate to call FDR a radical President.

    But neither is it right to use that term for Bush, either.  He is a reactionary in the truest--and original--sense: he is reacting against the Enlightenment. (Ahd Gracchus is right, as well, about the role of the Enlightenment in the American Revolution.) Bush is seriously anti-science, as Henry Waxman and a whole bunch of science magazine editors and commentators have been saying for years now. He is anti-reason, as we all know.  He is a theocrat.  I could go on and on. He fits the original definition of a reactionary quite well, and we had better take that position quite seriously, because he certainly does.

    The idea that liberals are the new conservatives was a mainstream idea as far back as the 1950s.  This is not to say that it was widely accepted, only that mainstream figures batted this idea about in mainstream forums. It was not a cooky fringe idea, limited to left-wing critics of Cold War liberalism...

    Speaking of which, when Gracchus says, "Blame LBJ" that should be "Blame Joe McCarthy." It was Johnson's fear of a new McCarthyism that convinced him he had to fight in Vietnam, even though he really, really didn't want to. McCarthyism almost died aborning, but then the Korean War exploded. And the Democrats lost the Senate as a result. LBJ lead the long, hard rebuilding effort, and knew better than anyone what had been lost--and that it had almost been lost forever.

    This is laid out in A Grand Delusion: America's Descent Into Vietnam, By Robert Mann, which I reviewed here for the Denver Post.

    The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

    by Paul Rosenberg on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:50:08 AM PDT

    •  tailgunner joe (none)
      didn't send half a million ground troops into vietnam. lbj was a smart politician, who could have found political cover that would have allowed him not to get involved in vietnam. i think that his personal insecurities did play a role in his decisions, especially on this issue. and lbj was a sincere anticommunist. in any event, i don't think we can elide all the blame onto the anticommunists of a decade earlier.

      non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

      by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 11:01:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're A Smart Dude, Gracchus, (4.00)
        You should read the book before dismissing it so summarily. It's the first book to deal seriously with the Senate's role in Vietnam, and it adds enormously to our understanding of how that war happened.

        I'm not absolving LBJ of blame.  I'm simply rescuing his blame it from the realm of the irrational and purely psychological. By showing where the ultimate blame lies, I'm presenting a clearer picture of what Johnson's failing was--which is the same failing I see in John Kerry. I'll still support Kerry, for the same reason that I still think LBJ was a much better choice than Goldwater in '64.  But I don't want to see the same mistakes repeated.

        At some point--I would have preferred long ago, like, say, October 2002--Kerry is going to have to break decisively with Bush's approach, and not just by being competent and not insance. For if he does not, we will see a repeat of Vietnam, and not just in a foreign policy sense, but in terms of undermining any chance of rebuilding a viable progressive majority in this country, which is something that the whole world desperately needs.

        The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

        by Paul Rosenberg on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 11:36:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i was being a bit flippant (none)
          but still, the executive branch basically backed into that war without a clear mandate from congress much more so than in previous wars, even the korean war. i'm not saying the senate wouldn't have approved the war if asked point blank, but that asking would at least have spread the blame around some and wouldn't have set a terrible precedent that was used to get back-door approval for the iraq war. this is probably a narrow response to a wider argument, but i'm tired.

          as for your point on kerry splitting with bush on policy, this seems so correct as to be inarguable. at the time of the run-up to the iraq war i was reminded of lenin's idea that imperialism is the final stage of capitalism, a theory i had previously thought was ridiculous.

          non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

          by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 11:46:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Was going to give you a 2 but.... (none)
            we're all having a good discussion here, so I will instead point you in the direction of further argument that the book Paul recommends is right. Your argument is primarily "marginal" for lack of information, so here is the information you need.

            You should read David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest," which is still the best book of biographies of all those who got us into Vietnam (it wasn't just LBJ, it was everyone around him who he looked to for advice since he knew he didn't understand foreign policy that well).  They were all seared by McCarthyism. By that, they were not so much seared by the "there are 57 communists in the State Department" line, but rather the argument put forward by the entire right:  "Who lost China?"  People these people had known, respected, and considered their mentors had their lives and careers destroyed over this.  

            No one under about 60 is now old enough to remember those days, and I (being that age) only remember it emotionally as a child from my family having our life turned topsy-turvy when my father was accused of being a "premature anti-fascist" for supporting the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, which lost him his job creating the electrical engineering school at the University of Houston and sent us back to Colorado to his old government employer, where he spent all the rest of the years of my childhood up to just before I graduated from high school cowering in the shadows and keeping a low profile so he could care for his family.

            All the people running the government at that time had themselves cowered in fear of being torn apart at a point in their careers where they were junionr/middle enough they could not have defended themselves, and they were bound and determined they were not going to expose themselves to such an event again.

            And in so doing, in so worrying about not allowing the right to destroy them, they destroyed themselves.

            William Goldman was right when he said the three rules of Hollywierd are "1) Nobody, 2) knows, 3) anything." Works in the real world, too.

            by HollywierdLiberal on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 06:23:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i know the history fairly well (none)
              and i'm simply not convinced that lbj himself didn't have greater freedom of action than he chose to exercise. he had been a red-baiter in the 1950s and had the anticommunist credentials NOT to intervene as fully as he did -- and the decision to send in american combat troops was his.

              i'm not going to argue that the red scare wasn't an incredibly traumatizing event, and probably affected the mix of advice lbj received. however, there WERE advisers, i believe clark clifford was one, telling him that vietnam was a mistake. he just chose not to listen to them -- or to any of the people outside the administration who were opposed to the war.

              yes, not escalating in vietnam would have been a tough political decisin to make with the red scare in the recent past, but tough political decisions are something that presidents are paid to made. and given his considerable political chops, could probably have minimized the fallout.

              so yes, mccarthy helped prepare the ground (and i'm sorry to hear about your father), but i don't think this absolves lbj.

              non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

              by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:14:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  apart from that (none)
      i think you're making sound points.

      non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

      by gracchus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 11:22:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bush is a reactionary (none)

      I very much agree with you.

      He is a reactionary in the truest--and original--sense: he is reacting against the Enlightenment. (Ahd Gracchus is right, as well, about the role of the Enlightenment in the American Revolution.) Bush is seriously anti-science, as Henry Waxman and a whole bunch of science magazine editors and commentators have been saying for years now. He is anti-reason, as we all know. He is a theocrat.

      Bush is not a stupid person, but as Molly Ivins pointed out, he is disinterested in policy. What he is good at is dealing with people individually.

      It is also my opinion that he places personal belief above facts and reason as the controlling basis of his decision-making. When facts and reason conflict with his personal beliefs, those beliefs take priority in his decisions.

      This is also a characteristic of fundamentalist religion.

    •  Yes, he is a reactionary. (none)
      But I like the word "radical" better precisely because it's not comomnly used to describe the right -- and because "reactionary" is always used to describe the right. Call Bush "reactionary," and people will sort of tune it out, because it's consonant with their expectations. But call him "radical," and folks might prick up their ears. Besides, more voters understand the word "radical" than the word "reactionary."
    •  RadCons (none)
      I love Bob Reich's term (obviously, it's short for Radical Conservatives) because it distinguishes them from ordinary conservatives.

      But this is truly the first backward-looking generation in American political history. Even the most right-wing movements have been conservative in the sense of trying to hold onto a present that was changing out of their grasp.

      These guys are aliens. They truly don't believe that America's best days are ahead of us.

  •  Absolutely! (none)
    There's no ideologic divide between liberalism and conservativism, in so far as it is possible to be both a social liberal and a proponent of sound governmental fiscal policies.

    Properly executed, being a social liberal leads to fiscal conservatism, because as one removes government from defining certain aspects of the law- thinking of the issue of same-gender marriage which looms on the horizon- removing government from a position where it defines- and thereby enforces what should amount to a social contract eliminates the need to continue throwing money into it.

    It's very possible to be liberal without being big-government. It just requires a little thought about what the role of government should be, and, perhaps more importantly, what issues government is best to keep its hands out of completely.

    Especially when visions harden into dogmatic ideologies, they become inhuman, cruel and dangerous. - Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

    by wingedelf on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 11:11:01 AM PDT

    •  I second that motion! (none)
      As someone who is socially very liberal, but is somewhat suspicious of big government programs, I'm glad to hear I'm not alone.

      To explain my ideology, perhaps it's best to compare it to Dennis Kucinich's proposals:

      Repeal the Patriot Act: YES!
      Support Gay Marriage: YES!
      End the War in Iraq: YES!
      Cut the defense budget: YES!
      Universal Healthcare: uh.. maybe when we can afford it
      Universal Preschool: No thanks.
      Department of Peace: Don't need one.
      His vote for No Child Left Behind: NO!

      "The goals for this country are peace in the world. And the goals for this country are a compassionate American for every single citizen." -G.W. Bush

      by Bundy on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 02:47:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Different squids for different kids (4.00)
    It seems to me that even the most extreme Republican strongholds have a place in their philosophy where Liberals may reach out and hope for success.

    At one extreme, you have the "God and Country" zealots of the Appalachian South, whose opinions can pretty much be summed up in Mein Zell's convention speech.  They may view anyone who differs from their rigid standards of religious patriotism as "anti-America", but by golly, they want their handouts.  Their states are the poorest and the least educated in America, and most young folks move far away if they can.  The New Deal Democrats of the South were popular in as much as they delivered for the home folks.

    Zell's book, "A National Party No More" (he wasn't quite all the way around the bend when he wrote it, and it's worth consideration by anyone looking for honest answers as to what white rural Southerners want) accuses national Democrats, with some truth, of looking at a region that FDR helped out big time--and telling it to go to Hell.  Zell recommends a lot of things that fewProgressives will agree to--make America "Christian", focus on security over freedom, abandon the gays and the urban poor and return to the "real Americans", meaning people like Zell--BUT one, at least, of Zell's proposals is worth considering--the new deal style liberalism of economic development, especially concerning schools.  Is it fair to dole out the scarce resources to regions that bite the hand that feeds them?  Reasonable people may differ, but consider that if we provide a decent education, they're more likely to grow up and be liberal Democrats.  Keep them ignorant, and they'll continue to respond well to GOP doubletalk.

    On the other end of the country, in South Oregon and continuing across the Rockies all the way to West Michigan, we have the other right wing streotype. The militia group that blames tax and spend liberals for everything from union busting to bad weather.  Here in Oregon, we have a brand of conservatism that hates big government and loves Constitutional Rights. We approved medical marijuana. We approved assisted suicide. We voted down three anti gay ballot measures and hope to make it four this year.  The conservatives here want the government to just butt out--out of their wallets and their personal lives both.  

    You can see Michael Moore reaching out to this kind of uberlibertarian in some of his movies, as in when he interviews Terry Nichols and other gun owning misfits in "The Big One" and "Bowling for Columbine."  The appeal for liberals to emphasize is RIGHTS. Not government programs, but freedom.

    The Zell Miller South and the Libertarian West are almost polar opposites, and there is no excuse for Republicans to have 'em both.  If Republicans want to be libertarians, they cannot interfere with the right of Hollywood to do business as they see fit, giving the public what sells.  If they want to be religious moralists, they cannot stand by and watch big business contribute to the decay of American morals.

    Liberal Democrats are at a crossroads.  They can embrace the liberal side of libertarian values, and increase influence in Sagebrush country.  Or they could go with the Zell Miller view of things, and go back to New Deal populist economics and make concessions to the cultural conservatism of the most populist areas.  Either choice will increase Democrats' influence in what has lately been a Republican stronghold, and will redefine what it means to be a "liberal".

    I am not part of your nutritious breakfast--I am a Free Man!!

    by AdmiralNaismith on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 12:53:34 PM PDT

    •  Great analysis (none)
      Yes, if the Democratics can make of themselves the natural allies of the Libertarians, they win, and the "Christians" lose, and we regain the future. I have Republican-Libertarian relatives who voted for Clinton the first time around (and their first votes for a Dem at the top) who were just disgusted at his backdown on gays in the military, and further disgusted at Hill's no-freedom health plan. If Clinton (may he recover fully and well from surgery) had sold his programs as a matter of liberty - liberty to serve in the military, and a health program that gave the liberty to receive care without removing the liberty to seek it where one wants - we would have never seen W's ascendancy.

      Since then, some of those relatives have gone to Fox, some have gone hard-core Libertarian. Can't talk them out of it, because Clinton so betrayed the future the Dems should own, and can own again. I do think Kerry is a smarter man than Clinton, and will do better.

  •  ok (4.00)
    i'm really glad people are talking like this, but it might be nice to keep in mind possible, large-scale action. after all, right now the democrats and especially the progressive wings of the democrats and left-leaning members of american society are pissed off, energized, relatively hopeful, and dumping money into projects left and right.

    so what needs to happen to bring us back to a place where a guaranteed minimum income seems reasonable and gets discussed, and kids don't assume that free markets fix the world?

    first problem: they won't teach otherwise in schools, because it'll be too contraversial to point out that democratic government action formed the american middle class (i'd go even older on that, btw, and include unpleasantries- government land policy until the end of the nineteenth century encouraged the creation of a rural middle class by both selling off lands at rates well below market price, building infrastructure for those farms in the form of canals and roads, and, well, indian killing).

    so it sounds like we have a few major, major problems that progressives need to address, ASAP:
    *people aren't going to get the real history of america in high schools and colleges, and they won't have lived through enough of it to understand what's really going on.
    *the media is horrible and will never treat topics seriously in relation to the merit of argument versus stap prejudice of forgetful people who fear looking unopinionated. we really can't expect this to improve as long as all the media in america is profit-driven, because flash sells and substance doesn't, even if people realize it's flash
    *i would say you can't roll back history, but you sure as hell can pretend, and the pretending can get pretty damn close. we can't assume the safety of cultural memory, because america just doesn't have it at a social level anymore (see above)

    these are the big, big, big problems, right, meaning the problems that we need to deal with BEFORE we can even get to the deeper issues.

    and i'd like to take off on some comments from above in regards to unions. 1) unions have lost connection and symapthy with educated liberals, and we should damnw ell start to build it back, so they can be supported in public forums and editorial pages instead of ignored or attacked
    2) we love the glory days of unionism, but let's face facts, the world has changed, and unions need to freaking change with it. and they're trying, but they need support.
    *for instance, the apollo project is a great union effort to bring ecological values into the very heart of unionism. that is freaking important.
    *next year will see both a sustained effort to unionize walmart and a major class action lawsuit to demand equal treatment for women at walmart. when this happens, we need to fucking support BOTH efforts, and try and bring them together both as efforts and in the public image. women have joined the workforce, they've been there for quite awhile, and we need to make sure unions care about their rights as much as men's.
    *there has been lots of discussion of "open-source unionism" meant to allow members to join unions for life even when they change workplaces or aren't in union-shops. they would get access to many union resources, such as health care plans but also help with organizing, labor law enforcement, job finding, skills development, etc. we need to support this, and we need to help make it happen.
    *a repsonse of corporations to labor rights has been to fire employees and hire them back as independent contractors. now there are a few ways of dealing with this. we should oppose it, yes, but we should also develop models for unions that allow contractors to band together for common services, even to form labor cooperatives. a stark but unreported example erupted in LA this year, when truckers laid off several years ago and forced to pay for their own trucks had a wildcat strike and expressed a desire to unionize, but autonomously, and outside the Teamsters, which they said was too corrupt.

    that's just addressing unions and labor, but we need to address something far more difficult and troubling, even more difficult than getting fair trade into global trade contracts. people don't necessarily care about these things anymore enough to fight. and they have to care a helluva lot. now we could just wait for the middle class to be completely demolished, and then maybe people will be eager to fight for something again, but i'd prefer to figure out how to deal with the very real problem that social capital in america is collapsing, that real grassroots, membership based organizations are collapsing/have collapsed/are dying off, that local politics really has become irrelevant to most people, and that real values are almost totally absent from politics, barring occassional heros like howard dean.

    i'll put it this way, american society has become so totally subsumed in consumerist values and national market trends that we need to figure out real ways that regular people can connect meaningfully to politics, or anything for that matter. because right now, even if you pay attention to the world, the most reasonable impression will be that the country is run by managers, bureaucrats, media companies, ceos, and professional specialists. and that's pretty much correct. so how on earth do we deal with that; because we aren't really going to reinvigorate democracy or anything truly democratic unless we come up with a damn good answer to that question. and i don't think the answer's going to be just protect the 1950s welfare state and all its institutions, even if we want to preserve the broad rough equality that made those institutions worthwhile.

    sorry for the length.

  •  great last post (none)
    great last post, especially the bit about the two extremes of conservatism. might i recommend that southern whites aren't nearly as backwards as zell makes it out, though they like fiery rhetoric some. in terms of some of the big social issues, it isn't really all that hard to deal with them. for instance, on gay marriage, if you just said that the "decision" would be at the state level,  they wouldn't really care anymore. just a thought.
  •  not "conservative" - revolutionary (none)
    Fascism is never conservative, no matter how much it protests that it is - it is revolutionary and seeks to overturn the established order, to turn the power of the upper classes to its own purposes.  

    As I think of Karl Rove - a fascist revolutionary if ever there was one - I am more and more reminded of a guy I knew in high school.  Like Rove, he was (in retrospect) living proof that "you can take the boy out of the gutter, but you can't take the gutter out of the boy."  His adoption of Goldwater conservatism (several years before 1964)was a "poke in the eye" to the dominant liberal ideology of the culture he felt excluded from, and entre into the fraternity-boy/country club group he desperately wanted to be accepted by.  Not to be part of them, but to come to use them and manipulate them for his own purposes - which he ultimately did do.  But he was literally out to "screw the rich" - which he did as he seduced his way to the top.

    This is what has been going on since with these far right revolutionaries of the past 40 years.

    This past week was a perfect demonstration of the fact Upton Sinclair was right when he said (in 1932):  "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."

    William Goldman was right when he said the three rules of Hollywierd are "1) Nobody, 2) knows, 3) anything." Works in the real world, too.

    by HollywierdLiberal on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 01:26:07 PM PDT

  •  sdfs (none)
    I'm a liberal - and I'm conservative! The neoconservative agenda isn't into conserving anything!

    "All intelligent people in this country will vote for you,"
    "That's not good enough. I need a majority" - Adlai Stevenson

    by cgilbert01 on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 02:04:49 PM PDT

  •  take one (none)
    A basic and useful distinction is between social conservativism and economic conservativism; the latter characterized as prudence in budget spending. Social conservativism is that sort of conservativism exhibited by the "moral right". The term 'conservativism' is misused in this case, in my opinion. The movement is called 'social conservatism' for political reasons (i.e. so that the moral right becomes associated with conservativism in the mind of dull-witted voters).  

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. -Emerson

    by fitzov rules on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 04:17:25 PM PDT

  •  Agree - Conservatives get a bad rap due to Bushco (none)
    REAL conservatives (McCain?) are not destructive to the national fabric.   We will disagree with them-- i.e. they may want a flat tax, no taxes, be loose with the federalism regarding equality issues, etc.  but those are legitimate debates.

    An illegitimate debate is selling America down the river so corporations can make more money.  That is NOT Conservative.  Nor is amending the Constitution at the drop of a hat.  

    I'd love the libertarians to be in this debate (at least one of 'em) even if it meant we'd have to let Nader in-- cause I think they'd eat Bush for lunch and get 5-10% of the vote.

    Victory in November -- or REVOLUTION in December...

    by jgkojak on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 06:56:02 PM PDT

    •  What's all this about McCain? (none)
      McCain has very far right wing views.  The only good thing I
      can see about McCain is that he doesn't like people to
      knowingly lie.  He much prefers to actually believe
      the right wing ideology.
  •  And here are the roots of the demise (none)
    of the democratic majority. Wishthink

    As Paul Krugman, a man of the same generation as Bush and Kerry, wrote in his brilliant essay "For Richer,"

    the America I grew up in -- the America of the 1950's and 1960's -- was a middle-class society, both in reality and in feel. The vast income and wealth inequalities of the Gilded Age had disappeared. Yes, of course, there was the poverty of the underclass -- but the conventional wisdom of the time viewed that as a social rather than an economic problem

    What that states both clearly and by implication.. is that the white upper middle class was doing well. And that the poor and working class simply didnt matter. That the poverty of the "underclass" was due to their moral failings. It is the basis of modern republican idealism. And it is demonstrably wrong.

    During this "gilded age" you and he speak of things were wonderful.. if you were white, upper middle class and has a secure job. For the majority of the nation of course none of that was true. But in the "happythink" of those adhering to this ideal that simply doesnt matter.

    The idea that there was a detente between the plutocrats and the working class is, of course, created out of whole cloth. It is historical revisionism. During the fifties,sixties, and seventies the labor unions were fighting tooth and nail for workers rights. And they were succeeding more and more. But as that doesnt fit  this "happythink" ideal it is discarded.

    The idea here seems to be that the nation was happy, comfortable. That we were progressive and left leaning. And that radical far right republicans took us from that. The truth is just the opposite. It was the left that tore gaping wounds in the false reality preached at america every night on the three networks. It was the left who screamed and shouted until women got the right to vote, the right not to be raped for a job. It was the left who screamed and shouted that ditch diggers should recieve fair pay. That their children had the right to an education. That their children had the right to eat. It was the left who shouted that forcing a man to work surrounded by carcinogens was immoral. That the continual dumping of toxic chemicals into our rivers and streams was wrong. It was the left who fought tooth and nail to  ensure all americans had a sacred right to vote. To speak their mind.

    Creating a new "happythink" only falls into the trap the right has created for itself. Reality is best dealt with on a factual basis. Not a comfortable emotional creation. Only when mankind forces itself to recognise truth and reality, and deal with the problems presented by those, are we ever able to advance in a positive direction.

    "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." - pRresident Bush | My other Drunken ravings

    by cdreid on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:42:51 PM PDT

  •  definition of conservative (none)
    There are generally two meanings for the term 'conservative'. One is political (and holds a particular meaning in US political culture) and the other dictionary. In the political sense of the word, yes, Bush is the conservative. But in the dictionary sense, Kerry is much more in the mainstream of American values and policy traditions than Bush is.

    Kerry should simply answer the Bush distortion of this with a statement that goes like this," I meant conservative in the dictionary sense of the word, not the political sense. This is a radical administration in that its policies are quite a departure from traditional American values. This is a distinction that the President seems incapable of understanding. The American people will explain it to him on November 2nd."

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