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Iowa Boy's interesting diary about the freepers and how they are alienating all but the most die hard conservatives and/or religious fundamentalists got me thinking.

A big part of his diary was how he felt more at ease with the Democrats than with what remains of the Republican party, and how that could lead to massive victories for the Democratic party.

But if the Democratic party gains the influx of what can only be described as "sane conservatives", what will happen to it? How will these people, that should be in the Republican party, had it not been hijacked by its extremists, influence the Democratic party? If the Democrats stand for sanity against the clear and present danger of the Bush administration, an overwhelming victory is indeed needed, but what will it mean?

If what can at best be described as a centrist coalition of the left and the sane right wins against the extreme right. where does it govern next? On the left? Or with the ideas of the sane right, i.e. Republican ideas?

Does the Democratic party stand for more than "not the extreme right"? And if so, how do you define it?

To be clear:

  • listening to allies,
  • not invading countries for no reason,
  • not cutting taxes for the rich,
  • not caring about what happens in bedrooms,
  • not being corrupt,
  • not being hostile to regulations,
  • not wasting taxpayers money

while a decent and worthwhile programme and a huge improvement on what the current lot is doing, is not a particularly progressive laundry list. This is a good center-right programme. This is what Republicans did 40 years ago.

Thus, the Bush adminstration, although it is self-destructing, is essentially successful: it has pulled public discourse so far to towards the hard right, taking advantage of the active complicity of part of the media, and of the cowardice of the rest, keen to "balance" the two sides and thus moving the "center" to the right following (half of) Bush's lead.

There's a line in Friends that has always made me laugh: Joey, after Chandler has betrayed him by kissing his then girlfriend tells him: "you are so far past the line that, from where you are, the line is a dot." The line is absurd for whoever has basic knowledge of maths, but it works. And with Bush where the metaphorical Chandler is, the traditional left-right line is a dot for him - and for the current "moderates" who are only half as far, it's a ... larger dot?

Because once, hopefully, the Bush administration is discredited and gone, there will be a fight for the control of the Democratic party, and for what it means to be a Democrat. And if in that fight for ideas, and for the soul of the party, the debate is between the Republicans that joined since 2004 and the DLC, the result will be a huge victory for Bush, and yet another major shift rightwards for political debate.

I know I am a crazy European lefty, and that the political spectrum for economic ideas is not quite the same in France and in the USA, but I'm still surprised by the strength of the reactions here on DailyKos against what seem to me to be pretty uncontroversial social-democratic ideas - the traditional left appears to be a minority on the site (it's represented, mind you, and certainly not suppressed, this is not my point - I'm just surprised to see how much hostility to its ideas (unions, government as a force for good, taxes as necessity) is also represented on the site).

So don't rejoice too much that 45% of Americans now define themselves as Democrats - make sure that they understand the word as you see it, not as simply 'sane and not Bush'. That's necessary, but it's not enough.

Just a note: the same drift to the right is happening in Europe, and we Europeans have to fight it there. This is not a Europe vs USA diary.

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:06 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You are absolutely correct. (4+ / 0-)

    The "center" has been pulled so far to the right on so many issues, that we've lost prospective.

    The struggle for the Democratic party is going to be a huge focus for a long time.  We must resist in becoming nothing more than a representation of the "center" because the "center" is way off track.  We must constantly work to re-define the center and the Democratic position on the political spectrum.  Unfortunately, this is not something we have proven to be very good at these days.

    "No government has the right to tell its citizens whom to love. The only queer people are those who don't love anybody." - Rita Mae Brown (-5.38, -6.77)

    by AUBoy2007 on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:12:31 PM PDT

  •  I don't feel terribly threatened. (18+ / 0-)

    The main reason is that I'm one of the ex-Republican types you're talking about.  I voted for Bush in 2000.  That said, I've been driven further and further into the arms of the Left over the past six years.  And I don't think I'm changing the Democratic Party so much as it's changing me.  I mean, I'm sure there's a little of both.  But for the most part, while the war in Iraq is my main thing, the rest of my views have become consistently more "leftist" as the years have gone by.

  •  A valid concern Jerome. (3+ / 0-)

    I'm hopeful that the Progressive members of Congress will continue to be the ones who define the Democratic Party. The pendulum is already swinging leftward, and will comntinue to do so fOR some time.

    One of the reasons I am hopeful is that the new Democrats who are coming over from the Regressive side are latecomers and will haVE less power and influence than those of us who have been slugging it out in the treches for years. The Progressives have been migrating to positions of power in the Party for some time now, due to their clarity of vision about the direction of the country.

    "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe" -Carl Sagan

    by LightningMan on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:14:44 PM PDT

  •  i'll be the contrarian (7+ / 0-)

    for some twenty-five years, the democrats had been creeping to the right. watching their numbers diminish scared them. now, watching those numbers rise, they'll be emboldened. i think it's already happening in congress. things aren't moving as quickly as we'd like, but they're moving, and the pace is quickening.

    the dems are timid- they've been in the wilderness far too long- but this is a true pendulum swing. that overton window is moving, and our elected officials will always be the last to realize it.

    © 2007 because i needed a homepage, and the world needed another blogger...

    by Laurence Lewis on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:15:19 PM PDT

    •  I think people are willing to give our ideas (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, Turkana

      a try after the horrible failure of Bushism. The center is much further to the left of where it is portrayed in the media. Currently, "the center" in the Beltway is the average distance between Bush (far far right) and the most right wing Democrat, which puts it very far right. But once we get a Democratic president in town, the media will have to stop sucking up to Republicans if they want to remain relevant and get invited to the cocktail parties (I wish there were an easier way to change them, but unfortunately there isn't).

      If your name was George Walker instead of George Walker Bush, your candidacy would be a joke.

      by dole4pineapple on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:19:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no question (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        incertus, SarahLee, RunawayRose, MO Blue

        a big part of what buried the dems for two decades was the media. the internet has changed the equation, and bush and the last repug congress showed people what their party is really all about.

        the american middle is not ideological. they gave the repugs a chance because of the media, and because the previous dem congress was too fat and lazy and out of touch. that's why so many people don't vote. people will give liberalism a shot not so much because they're ideologically aligned, but because there's much less animosity towards liberalism than the media has made it seem there is. and the more the dems reclaim liberalism, and show what it means and does, the more people will be ideologically aligned with it.

        © 2007 because i needed a homepage, and the world needed another blogger...

        by Laurence Lewis on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:23:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Overton window (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, KiaRioGrl79, Turkana

      I would like to see it moved back to the point where these things are no longer seen as permissable--

      Torture
      Illegal detention
      Illegal spying
      Illegal contracting
      Illegal wars
      Legal disenfranchisement
      Theocracy
      Xenophobia

      I'm afraid that we have a long way to go to get there.  I can't believe these things happened so easily, and I'm afraid that it will be too easy for them to come back, even if we stomp them down for a few political cycles.  

      •  the momentum has shifted (0+ / 0-)

        which is a start. but in the face of terror, or perceived threats of terror, people are all to ready to sacrifice their freedoms and their basic sense of humanity. that, unfortunately, is true of people everywhere.

        © 2007 because i needed a homepage, and the world needed another blogger...

        by Laurence Lewis on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 05:18:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for bring this up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, RunawayRose

    In a sense, I don't think it's right to want 'decent conservatives' to tag along with the Democratic party for too long. For one, they don't agree with many fundamental liberal positions, like economic security for all. As well, there will (and should be) at least two diverging parties in the U.S. for decades to come. I'd prefer our opponents be 'not insane' rather than water down our party to a centrist coalition.

    "Karl Rove is a genius; Thanks for turning America Blue, buddy!" - Atrios (-5.50, -5.85)

    by atrexler on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:15:21 PM PDT

    •  Well I'd imagine that people who vote for the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose

      Democrats want to give their ideas a try. The whole notion of a conservative majority is bull as we all know. Instead, the people who decide elections will vote the next time based on results.

      If we deliver, they won't care that Republicans shout "Socialism!" and "Big Government!" at all of our proposals because they will have worked. And that will get Democrats returned to office. And maybe any decent conservatives who voted Democratic will start to come around.

      If your name was George Walker instead of George Walker Bush, your candidacy would be a joke.

      by dole4pineapple on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:22:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is so important Jerome. (7+ / 0-)

    Critical, really.  It's a damn slippery slope!

    "...history is a tragedy not a melodrama" - I.F. Stone

    by bigchin on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:15:46 PM PDT

  •  no one ever conquers China (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, AUBoy2007

    their conquerers always became Chinese.

    The center may be like that.

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:15:57 PM PDT

    •  But the center MOVES. China, not so much. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, KiaRioGrl79, Duccio

      "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

      by LithiumCola on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:19:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can we move the center back? (7+ / 0-)

        I think so. We have on some issues. Certainly feminism (though they hate the word) in practice has become center.

        fact does not require fiction for balance

        by mollyd on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:23:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In the long run (5+ / 0-)

          I think the center always moves left. We have situations where for brief periods (by which I mean ten to twenty years) the center moves right. We are unfortunate enough to live in one of those times. But we are certainly more progressive now than we were as a nation in 1900, and they were more progressive than they were in 1800. So over the long haul, we still win. It's just frustrating to live in a regressive period.

          I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

          by incertus on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:25:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's an interesting thought. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SarahLee, RunawayRose, KiaRioGrl79, DBunn

            But lemme try another.

            The years 1950-1970 were a fluke.  They were the result of a perfect storm of geopolitical, economic, military, social and cultural forces that served to create beasts called the Middle Class and a healthy Working Class which each American either inhabited or could aspire realistically to inhabit.

            One could graduate High School, move somewhere, get a job, work at the job for 40 years, and retire.

            That never happened before in the history of the world, and it will never happen again.

            ----------------------------

            I stress, I don't believe what I just wrote.  But it's worth bearing that idea in mind.  You are correct that social-economic conditions have improved to the point of being unrecognizable from the past.  40 hour work week and so on.

            But you'll also notice that all of that is being rolled back.

            "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

            by LithiumCola on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:39:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  look at Europe (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RunawayRose, LithiumCola

              particularly Northern Europe, do conditions there seem sustainable?

              fact does not require fiction for balance

              by mollyd on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:47:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, they have been sustained. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SarahLee, RunawayRose, KiaRioGrl79, DBunn

                So I assume that means they are sustainable.

                As I said, I don't agree with the pessimistic paragraph I wrote.  There is no reason to think (certainly there is no reason to think this before you even try) that the human ability to enact societies which they can imagine is limited by some sort of evil nature.

                Not only can I imagine. a society as equitable and free-of-economic-fear as Norway, I can visit/ it.  For that matter, I can visit Canada.  

                So the question of whether such societies can be produced is easy enough to answer.  You can by a plane ticket and take pictures of them.

                :)

                "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

                by LithiumCola on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 01:00:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  That 'perfect storm' period (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SarahLee

              You make an excellent point LC, about the unusual conditions of 1950-1970. That Ozzie & Harriet moment is unofficially designated as the baseline American experience, when in fact it was quite anomolous.

              Both R's and D's have their own nostalgic vision of that time, and a fond desire to return to them, although expressed in very different ways. But it's a false vision, and attempts to return to some version of that time can only fail.

              For example: Democratic campaigns typically call for "economic growth" as the way to restore prosperity to the middle class. But the type of growth we saw in the mid-20th century won't happen again in the US, and even if it could, it would be ecologically unsustainable.

              We need a true vision of the future, we need to understand which values will serve us in that future, and we need programs and policies that honor those values.

  •  Que sera, sera. Not too worried. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, atrexler

    We'll have a lot more arguments about what's fair, fewer about assinine refusal to honor reason and proof.  It's Saturday, anyhow.  Chandler and Joey?  I think of them a lot, the episode where they left Ross's baby on the bus.  I don't think my son is going to let me babysit the new grandchild, I'm a little forgetsie like that.

  •  For those of us on the left ... (22+ / 0-)

    ...what you're saying here has long been a concern. But  since LBJ (domestic policy only), we really haven't had a President from our party who has pushed  "social-democratic/socialist" ideas. For all his flaws and all his good points, Carter was a center-rightist, and Clinton even more so.

    Thus, for those of us on the left, the battle is not new. And many, many people of our ilk have abandoned the party - sometimes for third parties, but mostly just abandoning electoral politics altogether.

    What we leftists faced in '04 and '06 and probably in '08? Getting power back from the far right. We're barely a few babysteps down that road. Our majority is shaky in numbers, even more so in ideology. As a Popular Front Democrat who is on the left of the party on mot issues, and beyond the left on quite a few, the process is frustrating, even infuriating, because beating the far right means making alliances with people who we not only disagree with a little bit, but with whom we disagree a whole lot.

    I'm open to suggestions. But spare me the third party BS. The last time that succeeded was more than 150 years ago, and we've got the bleached bones of a dozen populist, socialist, progressive, citizen and reform parties as proof of the inefficacy of that approach.

    I vote for the left coming up with five good policy items (not a huge laundry list) around energy, health care, education, fair trade and foreign policy. Then we work against those in the party who oppose these ideas by going around them to the American people.

    •  and as i say above (7+ / 0-)

      the internet gives the left a chance that it has not previously had to define itself. we've been at the mercy of the corporate media. that has changed.

      © 2007 because i needed a homepage, and the world needed another blogger...

      by Laurence Lewis on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:26:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is why I'm a John Edwards (7+ / 0-)

      person.

      He's right on trade, on healthcare, and he's pushing the envelope at the same time as the other two frontrunners triangulate and search for "the middle" instead of having the courage to lead.

      Americans want radical change, just not the type of radical cultural change that's the focus of the donor classes.

      Hope doesn't put food on the table, action does.  We need a president who isn't afraid to push the envelope and restore this nation to what it once was.

      Jerome is right about one thing though.  Most people don't even realize that Obama and Clinton are both to the right of Dwight Eisenhower when it comes to using the power of the state to improve people's lives.

      We need change, we need someone who realizes that the organization of the economy into large impersonal units is inevitable, and that the answer to to democratize the internal workings of those large insitutions rather than argue that its possible to tear things apart and create a new society where individuals aren't embedded in social and economic contexts.

      •  Jerome is right about a lot more than one ... (11+ / 0-)

        ...thing. ;)

        I'm leaning more and more toward Edwards, too. However, as a leftist, I don't believe that one person will "make all the difference." Of course, better to have a good leader, but what we really need, where the left has generally failed over the past, oh, say, 50 years, is in building a populist base. We're hampered by a two-party system, by generic American conservatism, by concentration of wealth, by our country's mythology.

        But tools are available now that weren't before. And the immense political, economic and environmental disaster that we face if there isn't a grand transformation of American politics is, I think, just beginning to percolate through that murk in the brains of Americans who have bought the myth.

        Changing things won't be easy though. Never has been.

        •  I'm really happy about Edwards so far too. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, TomP

          Have to see how things unfold for a few more months though.  I'll be doing some serious volunteering and I won't be able to switch horses, Des Moines is a pretty small place.

        •  one person should not (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades, RunawayRose, TomP

          make the difference, but I fear that is in the nature of people.  What I fear most is the siren song of charisma. Bill had charisma out the wazoo, but his policies .. eh

          fact does not require fiction for balance

          by mollyd on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:51:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm tired man (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades, SarahLee, RunawayRose

          very tired.

          I've been splitting my time between writing my term paper, and helping my mother fix her house.

          Jerome is right about many things.

          Which brings up an interesting point.

          In considering the sources of divergence between social market and liberal market economies, the biggest difference isn't in the concentration of wealth per se.  Its the nature of corporate ownership.

          In France and Germany, banks hold large blocks and have a longer term social investment strategy.  While in the US, finance capital predominates, with a myopic focus on making money as quickly as possible.

          In the long term, policies designed to direct cash to bank based ownership, perhaps even more so real old style credit unions, might be in order.

          At the very least, national corporate chartering requirements for interstate corprations, and an annual charterning fee (deductible from total tax liability, so it targets only those companies that pay little or no taxes.) are in order.  Why should wealth people recieve free insurance against economic loss in excess of the investment at the government's expense?

          That is who ends up assuming most it not all the unpaid social costs.

      •  I've been watching the candidates (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManfromMiddletown, Ahianne

        and I have reached the same position.  Hence the "Edwards 08" bumper sticker on my car.

        Sig: A rose by any other name would probably be deadly thorn-bearing attack vegetation.

        by RunawayRose on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 03:59:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here's my guess (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose

    Any win right now is largely a holding action for the left, because it will involve mostly older voters changing party ID or at least switching voting patterns for a while. But the real change will come as the people who are younger now move up and become more powerful--they're more progressive, especially on social issues, than their predecessors. So the key, in a small way, is to hold on to as much as we can from what we got in the 60s, so the next generation can help us build on that, and the discrediting of the current conservative position is a big step in that direction, since their goal was to undo everything that the New Deal and the Great Society put into place.

    I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

    by incertus on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:22:32 PM PDT

  •  Lesser Criminals? (0+ / 0-)

    War Criminals Lite?  I hope not but it my mind that describes some Democrats.  Not as bad as Bush but bad.

  •  I've recently been thinking about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    incertus, RunawayRose, LithiumCola

    this very issue. What I came up with is that for the near future 2008 & 2010 we'll take the votes whereever we can get them. I hope that in this time frame there is still a need to clean up the mess that these years of neocon rule have created. We will all unite behind the common cause of this cleansing.

    Between 2006 & 2010 I expect that Democrats will be crafting and shouting out a progressive message framed so that Americans who naturally hold progressive values will see that even though they were Sane Republicans before their hearts really belong to the progressives.

    -4.25, -6.87: The next great step will be taken from here.

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:23:37 PM PDT

    •  Which candidate do you think (2+ / 0-)

      carries that message forward?

      Or, alternatively, how can we help any candidate carry that message forward?

      (I realize the first question is a fill-in-the-blank and the second is an essay.)  

      I agree that Democrats should do this . . .

      Between 2006 & 2010 I expect that Democrats will be crafting and shouting out a progressive message framed so that Americans who naturally hold progressive values will see that even though they were Sane Republicans before their hearts really belong to the progressives.

      . . . but I by no means expect them to.  Not without prodding from the base.

      "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

      by LithiumCola on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:30:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  OK, I'll get serious for a minute. Gotta agree (0+ / 0-)

    with George.  Not that one. Lakoff.  There is no center.  It's an artifical mathematical construct that doesn't reflect true political identities.  There is no spectrum, same thing.  There.  Now I'm exhausted.

  •  If the Democrats do a jig to the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, RunawayRose, KiaRioGrl79

    right so as to capture the anti-Bush Republican sentiment, then the Republicans win in all but name.

    That's been happening since at least Reagan, maybe since about 1970.

    Clinton, for example, was to the right of Reagan in terms of economic policy on a lot of things.

    Maybe I have a tendency not to see that which I don't want to see, I dunno.  This seems wrong:

    know I am a crazy European lefty, and that the political spectrum for economic ideas is not quite the same in France and in the USA, but I'm still surprised by the strength of the reactions here on DailyKos against what seem to me to be pretty uncontroversial social-democratic ideas - the traditional left appears to be a minority on the site (it's represented, mind you, and certainly not suppressed, this is not my point - I'm just surprised to see how much hostility to its ideas (unions, government as a force for good, taxes as necessity) is also represented on the site).

    How much of that hostility to you see?  Is it numerous or just small and loud?

    There are some people who call themselves Democratic Libertarian.  Maybe you're refering to them.  But I don't know what that moniker is supposed to mean; it almost sounds like a name that is intended to sound neat-o and high-tech.  I wonder if a lot of people use it for that reason.

    Anti-union?  Don't believe the government can and should be a force for good?  Anti-tax?

    I have to think that's a loud minority view on DailyKos.

    "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

    by LithiumCola on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:26:46 PM PDT

    •  I dunno (7+ / 0-)

      Anti-union?  Don't believe the government can and should be a force for good?  Anti-tax?

      I have to think that's a loud minority view on DailyKos

      Maybe so, but I'm not convinced. Like I've said before, I'm still surprised by the relative dearth of diaries on economic issues like inequality, unions, regulation and the like. Sure, you get a highly successful one once in a while, but it feels like lots of kossacks are going "finally, a diary about what we should be talking about and do too little" - but then the debates moves on again. And there is a large "loyal opposition" in my economic diaries. It provides for really interesting conversation, and good debate, but it makes it hard to believe that there is a majority on the left on economic issues. Maybe the population sample is skewed (there is an over-represenatation of highly educated autonomous achievers on dKos, as well as of the libertarianish IT sector).

      •  On lack of diaries on economic issues. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tmo, RunawayRose, KiaRioGrl79

        Two reasons, I suspect.

        (1) Most diaries are based on newspaper reports concerning recent events.  Newspapers in America don't cover economic issues.  They will note that the stock market is up, or they will note housing trends.  However, those stats can only be translated into an actual depiction of American economics by someone (like bonddad or yourself) who actually know what they mean.

        That is, American newspapers make it their business to cover economic issues which are decidely tangential to the lives of people on a day-to-day basis.

        This makes it difficult to write economic diaries.   You can't just take a newspaper story and throw your general skills of logical analysis at it: you have to have background knowledge.

        (2) A crushing sense of futility.  Improving the lot of women as women seems eminiently more achievable than improving the lot of members of the working class as members of the working class.

        Americans hardly ever even acknowledge that there is a working class in America.  

        "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

        by LithiumCola on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:55:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  no working class (7+ / 0-)

          Well yeah we are all poor, rich or ... middle-class.

          Middle-class becomes a really meaningless term when people in the top quintile INSIST they are middle-class rather than upper middle-class. And people making 35k a year as a machinist also insists they are middle-class.

          It makes it very difficult to have a real discussion on economics. The problems of the family living on 25k  
          a year and those making 250k a year are different.

          fact does not require fiction for balance

          by mollyd on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 01:04:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Most American Kossacks aren't union members (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PhilK, RunawayRose

        So it's not that you sense hostility to those issues, it's just a dearth of diaries on those issues. That's a big difference. The story here is that people like to write about what they know, and I'm fairly sure that most U.S. Kossacks, maybe 75%, are not union members. I'm not one, never have been, and probably never will be. Employees in my company have very little grievance, certainly not enough to seek out a union, and there is no (or very little) history of unionizing software development employees. I don't have anything against unions, they're just wholly outside my experience. I have no idea if they're helpful for people who belong to them or not; I assume from what I've read here that they have to be and I do what I can to support them.

        One corollary of the low proportion of unon members on DKos is that union members are probably a lot less likely than software engineers to be reading Kos fanatically and posting diaries about what they know. A big difference is that people like me can read Kos during the day in breaks on the job; union members are more likely to be in jobs where they can't do that.

        A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

        by tmo on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 02:15:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't underestimate (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SarahLee, RunawayRose, KiaRioGrl79

          the quality of the anti-union brainwashing that's taken place, especially in the southern "right-to-work" states (was there ever a more Orwellian construction than that?). Unions are vociferously and mindlessly opposed here in the south, except for groups like teachers, largely because the state is on industry's side first last and always. When you've convinced a significant segment of the country that unions are evil and are going to cost you jobs, don't be surprised when there's not much political interest in them.

          I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

          by incertus on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 02:21:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  corporationist versus populist (6+ / 0-)

    might be more accurate than right and left as I see the debate going.

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:27:26 PM PDT

  •  I worry about that potential outcome, but (5+ / 0-)

    as I said in Iowa Boy's diary last night, I am seeing a shift in at least my own little world of Republican friends.  The most important being that their notion of government has changed.  They were largely anti-government people who bought into that personal responsibility bs lock, stock and barrel.  But Katrina really changed that.  The fact that BushCo has done little to help the Gulf Coast has also very much worked in our favor.  Right after Katrina one of these friends and I were talking about how horrible it was that the Federal government did not do its duty.  We were in complete agreement about everything until I said, "We are going to need a huge government jobs and reconstruction program to fix this problem."  She gave me a look I tell ya.  It was pretty funny because I knew that I had gone too far left for her.  So that was fine.  We debated a bit and then dropped it.  But now since progress is severly lacking and her "free market self correcting economy" has done absolutely nothing, her view is changing.  She's coming to the "dark side" and starting to see where a government program offers something that the free market never could.

    In many ways, the success of the Republican messaging about government being "worthless", "inefficient", and "dangerous" was a key factor in undermining populist Democratic programs and neutering those of us in our party who continued to believe in them even when the DLC was in their heyday driving the Democratic Party towards an anti-government and corporatist agenda.  But I do think that has changed.

    It won't be easy to keep the momentum in the leftward direction, but I think we have the wind at our back for the first time in about 25 years.  There are more and more Americans who are feeling a sense of entitlement about their government.  That attitude was almost extinct until BushCo came along and actually showed people what it would be like if there was no government.  So I think we might be in for a much more leftward shift especially in light of the rise of populist feelings around the country.

    We'll see.

  •  The primaries will (5+ / 0-)

    be a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party.  

    John Edwards said that we do not have to redefine the Democratic party; we need to reclaim it.  I agree.

    "We've got to save America from this President." John Edwards 4/3/07

    by TomP on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 12:50:33 PM PDT

  •  drafting manifestos signals the end (0+ / 0-)

    ... that should be in the Republican party, had it not been hijacked by its extremists

    A large number of Republicans believe that George Bush abandoned Conservatism, not the other way around. Bush moved to left on critical issues; China, WTO, civil liberties, etc...

    Thus, the Bush adminstration, although it is self-destructing, is essentially successful: it has pulled public discourse so far to towards the hard right, taking advantage of the active complicity of part of the media, and of the cowardice of the rest, keen to "balance" the two sides and thus moving the "center" to the right following (half of) Bush's lead.

    There are several problems which you bundled together into one statement. I wouldn't say that more people believe in Evolution, for example, but the Creationists are more politically active than they used to be. It may be that Creationists were abnormally compliant, and this represents a more normal interest in politics on their part..

    I have said repeatedly that Democrats are never going to be a majority party again, until they take into account the problems of the self employed, and the small business owners. The world has changed, and the blue collar core of the Democratic party has vanished.

    The war in Iraq has been a red herring. If Bill CLinton had formed a joint UN action, invaded Iraq, and was making some measure of progress in pacifying the country, (we still have troops in Bosnia) Iraq would not be an issue. Republican COngressional leaders pressured Clinton to increase the attacks in the no-fly zone. How would they be looking at the war now, if he were running it? Same war, different outcome...

    The Democrats need to rescue some Conservative talking points; fiscal probity, civil liberties, a modest, less over reaching foreign policy, (remember they critisized Clinton for trying to launch attacks on Bin Laden). The Bush campaign rhetoric in 2000 included avoiding foreign entanglements.

    Once the Democrats borrow whatever was left of Republican policy that is worth saving, then Bush and Cheney can be written off to the dust bin of history, and there will probably be no more REpublican party as we once knew it,

    BECAUSE Conservative thinkers have been dismantling the parties mandate to govern, for several years, writing at length about dismantling every Amendment since Reconstruction. They will dismantle the legitimacy of WWII, in a few years, we need only wait until the last solder has died. With the party philosophers stealing the robe from the party leaders, now long would you expect the Republicans to last?

    All Democrats must do is govern, which is something they prefer. Drafting manifestos is the beginning of the end (see COntract with AMerica)

    "Everything is chrome in the future..." Sponge Bob Square Pants

    by agent double o soul on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 01:10:14 PM PDT

  •  Progressive (3+ / 0-)

    I think that the periods in the US when progressive ideas get turned into policy are very few. In the 20th Century there were two (or perhaps three). The rest of the time both parties take a centrist position.

    When conditions go to extremes then the progressives come in and change the landscape.

    1. The period from 1900-1917. The excesses of the Gilded Age, the abuse of labor and the rip off of the public by industries like meat packing and oil led to the rise of organized labor and the rise of government regulation. This means the pure food and drug act and anti-trust legislation, etc.
    1. The great depression. This led to regulation of the financial sector and the rise of the social safety net programs. The last of which was the GI bill which was passed before WWII ended.
    1. The civil rights movement. Determined civil unrest may have led leaders like LBJ to push for legislation rather than risk a second Civil War.

    While the parallels to conditions in all three cases and the present moment are disquieting, we don't (yet) see any real public clamor for change. There is grumbling about the decline in the cost of living, the rise of the new Robber Barons and the gutting of the regulatory branches of government, but there is no movement to back it up.

    Politicians don't lead, they follow, so the chances of progressive policies being enacted in the next few years seem slight to me.

  •  I agree but... (4+ / 0-)

    I can't help but feel that a thorough repudiation of 'conservatism' gives my more progressive ideas a better chance to be heard.

    I'm in favor of self-coverning collections of workers (unions) owning the means of production.  I'm in favor of confiscatory inheritence taxes (sorry $100 million is all the head start you need) and caps on executive compensation (sorry $100 million a year is all you need) as well as strong barriers to the expatriation of wealth.

    These are not mainstream ideas, but they are more mainstream in the Democratic party than anywhere else.

  •  Ahhh, I don't think so (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose

    Let me cite two other Europeans: Hegel and (Terry) Pratchett. We know the dialectic attributed to Hegel of thesis, antithesis, synthesis. It's what has been playing out in American politics since The Great Depression, like a series of sine waves.

    I did a bit of brush-up reading on FDR's battles with the Supreme Court and some of his programs were actually pretty wacky, like the Agriculture Adjustment Act (name approximate) that initiated the process of paying farmers not to grow certain crops, and of course Social Security was viewed by many as Bolshevism, plain and simple. And the programs of LBJ's Great Society, including Medicaid and Medicare, are contributing to an upcoming financial disaster that will afflict my children and grandchildren because no one had the political will to fully fund them (just destroy them).

    So the time-honored stereotype of the liberal Democrat throwing money at a problem has something of a foundation. And while I would argue Welfare Reform under Clinton was not carried out exceptionally well, leaving the poor with a pastiche of programs and penalties rather than incentives, even I would say reform was sorely needed.

    On the other hand, we have this bunch of bozos with Gingrich, Norquist, Cheney, Bush, et al. fueled by the ideas of the most dispicable human to walk the Diag at the University of Chicago, Leo Strauss, and we have so-called "neoconservativism." It's not "neo" anything except wuss fascism (if it was REAL fascism I'd be in prison by now). So to get around to paraphrasing my other European reference, satirist Terry Pratchett, "They've punched right through conservativism and come out the other side" as something unrecognizable.

    If, as a part of that process, the ultra-left has been pulled a bit rightward so it doesn't really have much classic socialistic content, and the ultra-right has hauled ass so far to the extreme right that we see it for the black-hearted and wizened thing that it is, I think we have a synthesis that is more middle-looking, with both the left and the right shedding some unwelcome extremes.

    In short, Bush has already lost, as have his followers, his leaders, and their movement. Bush's only win is to get through his term of office without removal. If he can do that his only remaining win is to avoid arrest and prosecution.

    "With great power comes great responsibility." -- Stan Lee

    by N0MAN1968 on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 01:25:58 PM PDT

  •  On the point of anti-liberal hostilities (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, RunawayRose, Jerome a Paris

    This diary makes an excellent point. I’ve taken some genuine heat for espousing left-wing positions here on dKos. Not that I’m whining; the criticism of those who are more similar than different to me ideologically is welcome. But, like Jerome, sometimes the madness overwhelms the passion.

    Advocacy for the poor and working classes is one place where either the Democratic Party or Daily Kos are surprisingly reticent.

    For instance, the Dems nationally talk about catering to the middle class, but are silent about the poor. Quite true it is that we have ceded most of the middle class to the Republicans since 1994, and we do need to get as many of these people back to our tent as possible. But why the silence over the lower classes? Why don’t more national Democratic figures come out and say "We stand with those who stand without!" Isn’t that more important than helping middle class families get enough tax breaks to afford a larger car?

    As for dKos, I think one of our bigger problems is that we talk a good game about diversity and the respect for minorities, but we only honor those principles selectively. Religious affairs is an excellent example. If you live in the United States and are not a Christian, the odds are good that you have been personally discriminated against at some point, and that your group in general has been discriminated against, to your knowledge, many times. Here at dKos we are much more tolerant of religious minorities, including the nonreligious, but only if these minorities behave passively. If one attempts to criticize Christianity in general rather than the fundamentalist right in particular, one had better wear a fireproof skin. I have noticed through experience that the nonreligious among us, who are the most directly oppressed by the Christian juggernaut in America, are among one of the least-tolerated minorities on Daily Kos. For these people, speaking against the dangers of any religious or spiritual faith-based system of values results in a sentiment of "Shut up or change the subject."

    Beware, Daily Kos: It’s all smiles and compliments when we are agreeing with one another, but a lot of us have a lot to learn about the art of conversation when somebody says "You’re wrong."

    Jerome is one of my favorite of the top-tier diarists on dKos because people have given him a lot of shit in the past—notice how he now self-effaces himself by calling himself a "crazy European lefty," in order to appease us and keep us from attacking him for respecting his own opinion—and yet he still comes back with good topics of discussion, good arguments, and generally ignores the flack he takes along the way. He would make a good politician. Many people on this site are more petty, and I find it destructive to the community. Why do I say that? Because I am a part of the community myself, and, for as much as I like this place, some days I just don’t want to come here. I know what I’ll see, and I don’t want to deal with it. I doubt I’m the only one.

    All of this is a part of the larger problem facing the Democratic Party today—and, by extension, Daily Kos. We have many of the same problems in style and character of which we accuse our enemies. Sometimes our symptoms are simply not as far along as those of communities like Free Republic. Other times it gets pretty bad here, and the only thing that keeps me glad to contribute to the community is that, underneath all the egotism and pettiness, is a genuinely progressive ideology, coupled with the largest political blog in the world.

    Ironically, but not surprisingly, the fault lines that create the most hostile spats in our community, exist in left-wing country. We can all agree to bash Republicans, but when it comes to women’s rights, minority empowerment, economic populism, and all those classic "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" issues, we bash each other instead. With Republican and independent defectors exerting rightward pressure on the party, and on this community, we need to do a better job of reminding people what progressivism is all about. dKos shirks away from that because our mission is Democratic, not progressive...but it’s all the same in the end. The fight for the soul of the Party never ends, and being a Democrat has always meant something slightly different from generation to generation. We can accommodate an influx of centrists, or we can reunify with disparate elements of the farther left, but we usually cannot do both at the same time. So what do we want to do? Where do we want to go? Who are we going to be?

    Not just the "Democratic Party." Us too. Daily Kos.

  •  Good questions Jerome. (0+ / 0-)

    How will these people, that should be in the Republican party, had it not been hijacked by its extremists, influence the Democratic party?

    That's why I didn't recommend Iowa Boy's diary.

    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

    by bronte17 on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 02:28:12 PM PDT

  •  There's a fight for Dem control now... (5+ / 0-)

    It's the underlying current in the nomination battle.  If HRC is the nominee, the  $ power/DLC wing wins.  If Edwards is the nomiee, the people power/labor wing wins.  I'm not sure what an Obama nomination would mean.

    There's a lot more than the personal ambitions of 3 candidates at stake here.  The future direction of the party is being determined, to a large extent, by this fight.  It's also being determined by the recruitment of Senate and House challengers for '08.  Since, however, an incumbent president chooses the party chair and can coordinate the party message for 4 years, the nomination battle is the truly decisive one.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if Gore ran and was elected.  He is not the designated candidate of any defined constituency at present.  Even though he was a charter DLC member, he's pushing a very different agenda now.

    Seeing HRC get the nomination and seeing McAuliffe, Penn, et al assume their accustomed places crafting the party agenda would be a major disappointment.  As "42" said himself early in his first term, his WH was the Eisenhower Goopers fighting the Reagan Goopers.  The prospect of putting self-described Eisenhower Repubs back in office after 8 years of virtual Mussolini Repubs in power would be more than discouraging.

    While Edwards is my first choice of the candidates in the race, if Obama ends up the only barrier to an HRC nomination, I may have to reconsider.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 02:34:31 PM PDT

    •  "not sure what an Obama nomination would mean." (4+ / 0-)

      That is a problem for me. He has the charisma. He is a great speaker. He was anti-war. But the devil is in the details. I know he is in a rough spot. Too much to the left and he loses his money support. Too little in the way of fleshing out his programs and he looses people like me. I'm not willing to merely take his good intentions on faith.

      fact does not require fiction for balance

      by mollyd on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 03:07:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why we can't all just get along (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee

    At the risk of unveiling myself as a complete geek, one of my first thoughts on reading this diary came from Star Wars.  

    One of the more compelling parts of the story in the 3rd episode (last to be released) was the reaction of Senator Amidala at the "coronation" of Emperor Leiberman Palpatine -- the point at which the Empire became a fait accompli:  "So this is how liberty dies; to the sound of thunderous applause."  Or something close to that.  The right wing reacted suspiciously to that episode, as though it were a premeditated comment on the Shrub administration.  As with all great allegory, though, it was a comment on current affairs, but only by virtue of having been a comment on the nature of political manuevering; it was of course written long before Shrub took root in the Oval Office.  Synchronicity, anyone?

    But all of that is just setup to my specific comment on the theme of this diary.  My thought had to do with the development that Anakin Skywalker, before he became Vice President Cheney Darth Vader, had been identified by the Jedi Council as the one who would bring balance to the force.

    Balance? Really?  When you weigh good versus evil, is the end result a balance?  Don't we want good to triumph, and isn't that by definition "better" than a balance between the two?

    I suppose in a fundamentalist view of the world (whatever the specific fundamentals are that are espoused, whether political, social, or religious), a rapproachement of good and evil cannot be fundamentally "good."

    But in the pragmatic view, there's simply no converting everyone to the same belief system, no ultimate consensus possible on the nature of the good (nor the evil).

    So perhaps the wisdom of political systems is that "Overton windows" are not fixed structures.  It is in fact the sliding back and forth of perception, argument, fact, and opinion, the fact that the window moves, which allows it to fulfill the purpose of political organizations. (What the hell kind of house only has one window anyway?)

    One of the patterns of beautiful architecture that transcend culture, as identified by the architect Christopher Alexander, is "Light on two sides of every room."  A room with this feature is, somehow, intrinsically more beautiful in his estimation (based on the study of global historical architectural principles), than a room with only one view on the world.

    To the extent that parties become facades for rigid platforms, politics is no longer a functional process.  To me, it would appear that blurring the lines of party affiliation and political ideology is the only practical antidote to polarized disfunctionality.

    The resulting churn within the system leads to dialogue among members of the same group, a struggle to reach concensus which party polarization destroys.  The view from these many windows is more comprehensive, and perhaps even more beautiful, than everyone pushing a single frame around to suit their narrow point of view.

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