The Republicans have won and are winning. We lament the pay freeze for Federal Workers, the Republican's winning of the house, etc, etc. But that folks, doesn't mean they will win or have to win.
I hate the ****ing cynicism and pessimism in this place, not because I don't understand it, but because I understand both the reasons why it's justifiable, but also the reasons why the Republicans moved to inflict it, and succeed in inflicting it on us.
This is what Mitch McConnell's destroy Obama plan is all about: destroying his political base. McConnell's already got, and always had the people riled up to vote against us. His obstruction is to get YOU to cooperate in his plan. YOU are being forced to betray your own ideals in the name of fulfilling them.
The basic paradigm that I understand we're working off of, is we support Obama and the Democrats, and in return for that, we get the policies we want. No policies? We withdraw support.
All things being equal, a nice, accountable framework. Problem is, the Republicans are fucking it right up. Instead of letting the majority legislate, they have been blocking up the Senate, eating away at our majority so they could stop everything cold, or at least force offensive compromises.
Not everybody knows about this, and what they have often heard from us is morale killing BS about how awful the Democrats are doing.
So, the Republicans get away with the corrosive policy they have that allows them to continue the "shock doctrine/too-big-to-fail/whatever else you want to call it" policies that they set in place before our majority started.
By taking out our frustrations on Obama and our own, we've only helped reinforce the perception of weakness that policy mavens have already tagged to a frustrated adminstration and Democratic majority.
It will not get better if we get angrier with them. If we promise more walk outs, that only raises the concentration of their influence. Every time you make the decision to cut the support loose, every time you drop support for the general party, you don't succeed in destroying the third way/DLC/Blue Dog's influence, you only succeed in increasing it.
We are not diluting the strength of other people's political power with our own, we're merely leaving these people unopposed. They can win easily, because blocking us is a ridiculously easy way to win; Just having government not change is a victory for them, a victory we leave to them if we do not act.
The public is not making a direct enough connection between the GOP and the policies that got us in this crap. Until we successfully push our notion of that responsibility, they will continue to back those same ideas, if for no better reason than this is the way they have been conditioned to think for the last few decades, the default ideology of America.
So long as all people see is, "deficits bad, Democrats wasteful, government spending doesn't work, etc." as long as we ourselves fail at the messaging war, there's no messaging war to win for our politicians. What good is getting our politicians to support our policies if we can't get the rest of America to support them in turn?
I love that we are a reality based community. That's a good thing. But we can take that idea a little to seriously, or at least interpret it a little too narrowly. We can talk about reality now, but that's not all we should be interested in, or striving for. I know a bunch of people make snide references to 11th dimensional chess, but regular chess itself is pretty complex.
You can't just think one move ahead and win, because your opponent has all their own options. You have to paralyze and defeat those options before you can defeat your opponent. The Republicans need to be the ones trapped, and they've shown a knack for backing themselves into some pretty tight corners. Only problem is, we're backing ourselves into some corners too, politically, by insisting every move be a checkmate or a failure.
It's useful making the distinction between check and checkmate. The check is when the king's threatened by another piece. That can be resolved by the king being moved, the threatening piece being captured, or another piece being put in the path, if that's applicable. It's only when there's no way out, when there's no way to destroy or block the threat, or move clear of it, that you've actually won.
We're thinking of a shitload of moves to put those darn Republicans in check, but we're not thinking of how to manuever them so they have no way out, taking away moves. We're just wasting time, wasting our own morale, wasting the opportunity to take the fight to the Republicans. Losing battles, losing pieces in pointless policy demonstrations is not the way to win.
As of late, we've lacked a certain consciousness to our political ideology. We've become kneejerk. We know certain things are right, certain things have to be done, and we've become apt to push for certain policies without adequately explaining to anybody else why we should have things our way. Our opponents can then come in and take our stereotypical policy advocacy, and make their standard cases. Democrats spend too much, Democrats grow government, so on and so forth. The defenses of people conditioned for decades by the Republicans go up, and we don't get a fair hearing. Can we win at all? Well, yes, but it's not going to be all in one move. We have to first defeat the pieces of their argument set up to capture ours when we make them.
People like you and me have to be part of this. We have to be aware of what we're doing, and of what our opponents are trying to do.
We have to be aware that part of what the Republicans are doing with their obstruction is making it seem like their policies and our policies don't differ much. By attacking our people for them mainly, rather than just treating treacherous members of our party as accomplices of the real bad guys, we help put our piece right in the spot where they can capture it. We have to make it clear who is really the party that's stalling things. If blame falls on us, it works to their benefit.
We have to be aware that the frustrations their obstruction is causing amongst us is part of the plan. If we are more patient, more deliberate, perhaps even a bit more cold-blooded about it it, and we don't let ourselves get angry at ourselves, we can undermine that part of their plan. And if other people get frustrated? Well, for God's sake, tell them the truth! Work up a catalog of blocked measures, and who voted to block them. Explain who is getting in the way. If they ask why we haven't changed the rules, use that to our advantage, too. Get them writing letters and bashing folks for not changing the Senate rules. Get some popular outrage out there on the subject, rather than lamenting the ignorance of the public, or worse, insulting them over it.
We're only seeing the playing field in terms of ourselves, in terms of what we want. That's unimportant, compared to what the nation as a whole wants, and changing the dynamic of that in our favor. We need to stop acting like advocacy on this blog alone can change things, or informing people on this blog alone of important matters is enough.
We also need to stop with this doom and gloom stuff. Nothing serves the Republican agenda better than the notion that NOTHING can be changed to help alter the way things are. If the "corpocracy" inevitably wins, why bother fighting? If the Republicans get what they want no matter what, why bother fighting? If there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans, why bother fighting?
Notice the question that keeps on coming up? Yeah: "Why bother fighting?" See how that works? There's no easier opponent than one that has decided to stop fighting. That is what I hate about so much of the pessimism and cynicism out there. It doesn't do us any positive good. It only helps increase the sense of futility that has already served for a generation to demoralize Democrats. When we decide we're not going to move with a purpose to change things, then those who want the status quo win. It doesn't matter why. We don't have to agree with them or conceded their argument. We only have to decide we're not going to try getting in the way.
They don't even have to crush us entirely. Just crush our hopes enough that we don't show up to push our agenda. Get us to abandon our candidates, so theirs win by default. Step by step, they make us undermine our own political strength, step by step, the damage becomes worse and harder to undo because it's not them we're fighting, it's ourselves. You can keep a person in bondage a lot longer, and a lot more permanently, if they are fighting themselves and among themselves, rather than fighting you. If they give up.
And really, that's the only way they win.
See, they don't have the advantage of a sympathetic argument. The obviousness of the financial disaster is greater every day. The status quo, the conservatives most powerful ally when it's good, is intolerable to most people. The best they can do is scapegoat the other side, but even then, they can't escape blame with most.
They don't have the advantage of Demographics. Geographically, they've backed themselves into a corner. Their advantage is that they are very good at dividing, and we are very good at being divided. Their advantage is, theirs is not the point of view most people have to really think about. Theirs is the default.
We cannot fight as a passive resistance and hope to win. Theirs is the party that can best employ passive resistance, because theirs is the political movement for which change is most toxic, and for which their is little penalty for gridlock from the base.
But they are also very much the most brittle of all the political movements in America. They are an old movement, far behind the times, and their beliefs are no longer the fresh ideas of a counter culture, but the ailing beliefs of a very, very dysfunctional status quo. People are prepared for something else. Otherwise, they wouldn't bother with us, the way we are. We were blessed with an advantage before our party was fully able to take advantage of it.
If we unite, if we come together, if we decide, make the deliberate, committed decision to push our case out there, to force a new political movement in this country, I feel we can break the back of the conservative movement in America, use their rigidity against them, force them to make themselves unpopular, just as they've manuevered us into renewing the pessimism and cynicism that has crippled our party for so long.
We can change and adapt easier than they can. That's the simple fact of the matter. We can be more tolerant than they can be. We can accept a degree of compromise they can't.
Look at the tea partiers. Are they the most patient or the most rational examples of their party? Before you say, we didn't succeed in scaring people off of them, go look how many high profile Tea Partiers bit the dust. They have a rabid base, but that doesn't win everywhere.
We do have a challenging task. We have to make normality, sensibleness, calm, and sanity attractive in an age of panic and pain.
But I believe that we have a selling point here, and a lesson to learn ourselves. I wrote an essay a while back for Watchblog entitled "What's in the Box". The gist in the article, which relates to the novel and movie Dune, is that part of what makes us human is our ability to absorb punishment and pain, but still keep our heads.
Any fool or animal can shrink away from pain, shrink away from heartache and disappointment. It takes a human being in full possession of their faculties to actually think things through when the times are tough, and act rationally.
It is no mistake that the hardest hit areas in this economy were also the ones where radicalism and conservatism had the greatest attraction. Those were the people most vulnerable to the scare tactics, in the places where the demographics were friendliest to the GOP, and the cynicism about the Democrats was greatest. It's not unfair to them to point out that their choices probably just made things worse. That's simply the truth. But how do you tell them that?
First you must be confident. You can't let the thought that somebody might think you're lying deter you. It hasn't deterred the competition, and they didn't have half the truth to tell people that you have.
Second, you must have an elegant, gut level way to sum it up. You're playing for a major capture her, so make it good and persuasive.
Third, and finally, You must be willing to sell an imperfect party to folks, rather than wait for that perfect party to come. I know many of you think that it's just too painful to sell that party when it doesn't deliver, doesn't come through for you, but if you're not able to do that, you will never break through the threshold of power, because the Republicans will always make it so difficult to get good stuff done that disappointments and bitter compromises are inevitable. If that's your standard for taking your ball and going home, then your political efforts will reach their premature end right then and there, and things will slide back to the Republicans.
We should not stop fighting the Republicans because what we thought was going to be a thrown fight has turned into a grueling wrestling match. We need to make the decision that we're going to win this battle, and start looking for the substantive means to do it.