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Change in America requires more than just Democrats going the other way from Republicans, it requires a paradigm shift.  That's going to be the difficult part of this.

We have to win not only the battle to gain nominal power, but to rethink things so we we're not simply having to accept "political realities" and end up committing the same mistakes.  Not every conclusion we draw may be different, but it will be worth it not to retread the same "big government", "tax relief", "war on terror" garbage, believing that to stray from these notions is to risk political defeat.

Politics must come second to policy, but if we don't align the politics properly, it will get in the way.

"Political realities".  I put them in quotes because they are at best a derivative of the actual kind, the kind that really affect our lives.  At the same time, these "realities" still impose themselves on our lives, when folks given them credit.

Such psychological "realities" depend on our faith in them to actually exist.  Or, put another way, they're real, often enough, until we decide otherwise.  Dynamics in politics depends on thinking and rethinking the problem.

Some candidates say they are in the solutions business, but solutions depend on understanding the problem first, on admitting the problem in the first place.

The "Political Reality" of the last year has been the Republican's record obstruction, and the President's use of the veto pen.  But if we unpack that a little, we'll find that in many of the cases, the obstruction was simply allowed by the Democratic Leadership, perhaps in the spirt of not following the Republicans in their exclusionary ways.

Trouble is, the Republicans didn't quite abandon those ways, and have taken to employing parliamentary tactics and veto threats from Bush to force their policies, and stymie the Democratic Party agenda.

And that was the "political reality" that was accepted.  This despite huge, obvious leads for Democrats on many issues.  I guess the proximity of Washington Politics, compared with that of the voters, makes the former kind seem more important, but the latter is the more persistent, the more real of the realities.

The Democratic Establishment is suffering because it built itself up as a barrier against further Republican incursion, adopting some of the Republican's rhetoric, thinking, and policy ideas as a way of keeping voters from utterly marginalizing the party.  It has not adapted well to the shift in American Politics, and Obama's success in this election is one symptom among many of the discontent of rank-and-file Democrats with the passive puttering of Washington Senators and Representatives.

Democrats, among other Americans, are looking to see who is going their way, who will get out of their way, and who will both lead and follow them in the direction they want to go.  They want the feedback loops of politics in this country to start working for their good, rather than just for elites in society and party politics.

The question is, who will be willing to take America's obvious hints about where they want that political reality to be, and make that reality so?

Originally posted to First Amendment Remedies on Tue Feb 19, 2008 at 08:10 PM PST.

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